Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a scamp, a camp, and a bit of a tramp...

"I got a bad case of loving you!"

Picture it: 
Grace Jones, perennial muse of Andy Warhol, dancing naked after having been painted head to toe by Keith Haring. 
Grace Jones, pop icon, pretending to be the Queen of the Vampires.  
Grace Jones, former Bond girl and later star of Pee Wee’s Christmas Special,  chasing after Michelle Pfeiffer's kid sister and the hot guy from Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge.  
Picture a movie audacious enough to open with frat boys wearing nothing but their best bed linens and performing a ritual sacrifice.  
This, my friends, is Vamp (1986).

Robert Rusler and Chris Makepeace are two besties in a bit of a bromance who are sick and tired of life in the dorms.  They promise a local fraternity house that they can procure of strippers for their upcoming kegger in exchange for admittance.  
Faster than you can say After Hours, these upper-middle class suburbanites head off to the big bad city (chauffeured by the man formerly known as Long Duk Dong, before he was arrested by the police for crimes against his own people) to find some consensual whores.

Our protagonists happen upon a mafia-run strip club festooned with multicultural, trans vampires.  DeDee Pfeiffer is working there as a bar-wench dancer with a heart of gold. Dream big, girls! But we all know how fickle the art crowd can be.  Soon enough, Grace Jones and her albino hoards grow weary of these boys with their basic midwestern charm and they want our heroes dead (and after they sat through her boring solo performance).  How rude!
What easily could have just been a Porky's retread, Vamp takes the teen sex comedy horror film in a new, more subversive direction.  Darkly comedic, sub-textually homoerotic, shot with hyper-color saturated lighting, with Grace Jones on mute while the rest of the ensemble gives performances several shades above camp, Vamp sits comfortably in the aesthetic of queer cinema. 

"I love you, Keith - but all I can see right now is food." 

This movie was always on HBO in the late-80s. Its vampire scenes are surprisingly graphic and perversely sexual.  Violence seems to come out of nowhere when juxtaposed with the sophomoric tone of the rest of the movie and that proved deeply traumatizing to my eight year old self.   
Despite this films meandering pacing problems (it often feels like an overlong, aimless Cyndi Lauper video), I would have loved for Vamp to have been a franchise, like the American Pie movies, showcasing douchey-hot frat boys going to vampire run strip clubs all over the country.  Eventually, the series would culminate in an epic, Las Vegas showdown of good and evil where Grace Jones and Gina Gershon battle tete'a'tete - but some things can only live in the dreams of gay boys. 

1 comment:

  1. DeDee really is the most talented one in the Pfeiffer acting dynasty.

    -- aunt john