Monday, 15 November 2010

Vamp (4 Stars)

This used to be one of my favourite films. When I watch it today it's difficult to understand why. It may be because I was fascinated by Grace Jones when I was younger.

In the 1980's Grace Jones's picture was everywhere. As a singer she had only moderate success, but she was the queen of scandal. Whether it was for standing at her window naked waving to photographers or for being arrested after having sex on an airplane, everyone knew her face. And her body. Her extremely dark skin and her taut muscles gave her an almost unhuman look.

In 1984 she had a small role opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Conan the Destroyer", but it wasn't till the following year when she was recognised as an actress, after starring as May Day in the James Bond film "A View to a Kill". "Vamp" was touted as the film which would make her famous as an actress.

But it didn't work. "Vamp" was the peak of her acting career. After this she faded into insignificance as an actress, although the scandals continued. She said in interviews that she had given up acting to further her singing career, but the truth was that nobody wanted her. So what went wrong?

I don't think it was Grace's fault. The inexperienced director Richard Wenk was to blame. He didn't make enough of Grace's obvious talents, namely her beauty and her deep sexy voice. The vampires in the film are ugly, and Grace was the ugliest of them all. The first time we see her she has a red wig and her skin is covered with powder to make her white. In the next scene she's her black self, but as soon as her fangs sprout her face turns into a vision of ugliness. From then on she becomes progressively uglier throughout the film, until in the final scene she looks so nasty that she's unrecognisable. And why oh why is Grace mute in the film? The only small treat we have of her voice is a dark sexy laugh.

I've given this film 4 stars anyway. Not because of Grace Jones. Her performance is forgettable. It has appeal as a teen comedy. I enjoyed watching the pledges running round looking for a stripper for a frat party. The strip club manager who dreams of opening a vampire club in Las Vegas amused me. As a vampire film "Vamp" is entertaining. As a promotional vehicle for Grace Jones it flops.

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