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— W.C.U.N — Pittsburgh!!

VAMP (1986) Dir. Richard Wenk. Written by Richard Wenk, based on a Story by Donald P. Borchers and Richard Wenk. Starring: Grace Jones, Chris Makepeace, Robert Rusler, Billy Drago, Gedde Watanabe, Deedee Pfeiffer, Sandy Baron, and Paunita Nichols.

Ever have one of those nights?

Look at Grace Jones, right here and now and submit to the baddest bitch of the eighties. A terrifyingly beautiful example of an utterly unique woman doing shit her way. It's always baffled me that the notoriously vanilla gatekeepers ever let her into the collective conscious, but then I realized they didn't let her do shit. What little we have from Jones; music, film roles, modelling layouts, urban legends - exists because she was unafraid to be herself and managed to hijack the culture and for a few precious moments and it was sublime. Most of what is great about Vamp is Jones' take on Katrina, the Egyptian Vampire moonlighting as an Avante Garde stripper in one of the sleaziest clubs of the 80's. Her red fright wig and body paint by art star of the time Keith Haring (Jones' idea, naturally) is iconic. The rest of Vamp's greatness is supplied by a game cast, neon noir lighting schemes, and Billy Drago. This may, in fact, be the best Billy Drago character outside of DePalma's Untouchables and that is not a comparison I make lightly. Chris Makepeace as the lead Keith was coming off The Falcon and the Snowman and I can only assume he was still eager to shed the kid image from Meatballs and My Bodyguard and he acquits himself well enough here. I am a little sad to see that he didn't do any genre work afterwards. Rusler is as likeable as he ever was, riffing on the same character he played so well in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, and Weird Science. Gedde Watanabe while at least no longer trapped in the racist caricature of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles is still vaguely in stereotype land here and it's truly bizarre that his far more complex work in Gung Ho is from the same year. DeeDee Pfeiffer (Michelle's sister) is an absolute joy and if I have a complaint about this movie it is how long it takes Makepeace's character to see how fucking cool she is. Really, how she is not as big a star as her sister is beyond me. So a solid little ensemble of good guys, naked stripper vampires, some Italian Ghoul types that run the club, and Billy Drago's freaky gang of black girl biker and albino vamps in a sewer showdown with Makepeace and his crossbow makes for a brisk, visually engaging horror comedy that should be in rotation on everyone's annual Halloween movie marathon. Have I mentioned how bad-ass Grace Jones is? No? Well, see below for more examples. 

    

 

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