If you like campy 80s flicks, don't even bother reading this review. Just go watch the movie. Now.
What more can be said? "Vamp" is totally 80s to the max. Let's begin with the actors... We've got Chris Makepeace ("Meatballs", "My Bodyguard") sporting tight jeans and a oh-so-fashionable blue football jacket. We've got Robert Rusler ("Weird Science", "The Facts of Life") sporting a lovely pastel shirt and wool blazer with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Then we've got Gedde Watanabe (Long Duk Dong in "16 Candles") reprising his classic nerdy role, only this time without the horribly contrived Asian accent so you can safely laugh at him without feeling racist. And of course we've got Grace Jones, 80s icon extraordinaire ("Conan the Destroyer", "A View to a Kill") sporting a wire bikini that makes Princess Leia's brass swimsuit look like a nun's habit.
But for my money, the actor who steals the show is the late, great Sandy Baron as Vic the seedy nightclub owner. You've definitely seen his mug all over TV in minor roles that always stole the show (on Seinfeld he was the cranky retiree who gave Jerry the "astronaut pen"). He definitely steals the show in "Vamp" as the lovably sinister old timer who just wants to get to Vegas, even if it means selling his soul to a clan of bloodthirsty vampires. Sandy even has a few dramatic monologues which add depth to this otherwise silly romp. When he proselytizes about his "service" of ridding society of the dregs, the wanderers and the losers, and he punctuates it with a toothy Cheshire-cat grin, it sends a chill right up your spine.
Plot-wise, it's your basic creatures-of-the-night-run-amok-in-a-bar story. You know, the one Tarantino recycled in "From Dusk Til Dawn" 10 years later. Yes, "Vamp" was the original and don't you forget it.
There's some great comedy in this movie, and for that reason it's hard to approach it as a horror film. The whole thing is tongue-in-cheek which takes away the terror and replaces it with laughs. It's a crying shame that director/writer Richard Wenk didn't do more films because he had a great approach to filmmaking: a cross between John Hughes ("16 Candles") and the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team ("Airplane!").
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you buy the DVD, which you must, be sure to get the 2001 Starz/Anchor Bay release, NOT the 2011 Image Entertainment release. Why? Because the 2001 release includes the hilarious Richard Wenk short film "Dracula Bites the Big Apple". His first film short, this is what got him the "Vamp" gig, and you don't want to miss it. Why they didn't include it in the 2011 release (dvd OR blu-ray) is beyond me.
So there you have it. See this film for the 80s nostalgia, see it for Sandy Baron, just see it. Other campy 80s gems I recommend are "The Alien from L.A." (1986) which was Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kathy Ireland's big break, "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark" (1988) which is so bad it's ...well... BAD. And although you've probably seen it you gotta see it again: "Beetlejuice" (1988).