recipe: After Hours meets An American Werewolf in London meets Dick
Vamp really comes
from the American Werewolf in London school of filmmaking, in the
sense that it is a somewhat grotesque horror-comedy focusing on two
average guys, one of whom joins the undead with unpleasant cosmetic
consequences, while the other fights to escape the clutches of the
creatures. The already undead guy continues to communicate with the
normal guy, and continues to be his friend in certain ways, although
he also has an urge to kill him and drink his blood.
As you can deduce
from the title, this time the menace comes from vampires rather than
werewolves. The modern day vampires run a strip joint in a really
seedy neighborhood in L.A., and this seems like the ideal minority
business if the minority is day-impaired Americans. Strippers work at
night, and the guys who go to such a place make perfect victims. They
usually come alone and live alone, so they will not be missed, and
when one goes to such a place in such a neighborhood, one doesn't tell
people about it, so the victims will not be traced.
The vamps even have a
fully-integrated business which includes a waste disposal truck to
transport the bodies elsewhere, thereby assuring that the drained
corpses won't attract police to their neighborhood.
Our heroes are
college students trying to get into a fraternity, hoping to prove
their mettle by acquiring a stripper for a frat party. They are
accompanied by Gedde Watanabe as a rich, geeky student who provides
the transportation in return for companionship, and Dedee Pfeiffer, as
a new stripper who has not yet joined the undead.
film's plot is uninspired, but it is a cut above most genre film DVD's
It makes excellent
use of the unique look and talents of Grace Jones.
It has an
exceptionally striking look in general. The art design and
lighting were conceived to make it look like a comic strip, filled
with bright colors and vivid patterns. It is not unusual to see
red and green buildings in the background, or to see buildings
with brightly colored windows, all images created by lighting
tricks (Warren Beatty used the same techniques in Dick Tracy,
which came after this film)
person among the undead" motif sometimes works surprisingly
well. Gedde and Dedee were especially good at creating the feel of
average people coping with a chaotic situation.
The commentary on
the DVD is a treasure. It is done by the director, the star (Chris
Makepeace), Gedde, and Dedee. It's obvious that they all had a
great time making the movie, and all like each other. They rib
each other unmercifully, like college frat brothers, and this can
be really funny. At times they even dub in their own new dialogue,
ala MST3000. (E.g., Gedde hits on a stripper: "Hi, remember
me from 16 Candles?") Two of them mentioned that making this
film was the greatest time in their lives. Dedee is about the most
down-to-earth person you can imagine.
There is a short
film by the same director on the DVD. It is only 22 minutes long,
and was made right after he graduated from film school. It is so
good, that showing it around got him the job of directing
additional footage on the DVD from the director's own private
collection: outtakes and gag material. This is rare for a DVD
based on a fifteen year old movie.
couple of notes:
1. This isn't a great
movie, but it has some moments, and it showed some inspiration. It
seemed to promise a good future for the boy director, Richard Wenk.
That same talent is visible in the 22 minute short which is also on
the DVD (also a humorous movie about vampires, singing ones this time,
and featuring Steve Rubell of Studio 54 fame). Despite his evident
talent, Wenk would not direct another full-length feature for 13
years, and then had to take one which was really not right for him.
(Andy Garcia in "The Scalper", aka "Just The
Ticket", a little-seen 1999 film). Wenk is currently working on a
Meat Loaf film called Wishcraft, which is supposed to be a "teen
horror" film. That's more up Wenk's alley, I guess. Not sure what
his alley might be these days.
2. Gedde Watanabe is
the guy who played "The Donger" in 16 Candles. I thought he
created an appropriate and amusing character in both films, although
his career seemed to languish for a long time after that, until he
finally landed on ER. I guess
he didn't seem to have much else in his repertoire. Gedde was 29 when
he played the teenager in Sixteen
Candles, and was 31 when he played the college boy in this film. Other
interesting facts about him: (1) he is an accomplished singer whose
singing voice had to be dubbed in Mulan because his real voice sounded
too professional for the role (2) He may have become famous playing
Long Duk Dong, and his family certainly has an Asian heritage, but
he's as American as anyone can be. He has no foreign accent, speaks no
Asian languages, was born and raised in Utah, and moved after high
school to northern California. Not only that, but his ancestors are
Japanese, not Chinese.
has Gedde been up to lately? Click here.