DANCE OF THE DAMNED (1989) merits a place in history as one of the few vampire-stripper-exploitation films every honored with a screening at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Critics hailed this moody oddity from Roger Corman's production group, a two-character piece about a lonely urban bloodsucker who seizes a suicidal LA go-go dancer as his nightly victim...read more
DANCE OF THE DAMNED (1989) merits a place in history as one of the few vampire-stripper-exploitation films every honored with a screening at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Critics hailed this moody oddity from Roger Corman's production group, a two-character piece about a lonely urban
bloodsucker who seizes a suicidal LA go-go dancer as his nightly victim and tries to win her friendship before taking her life. TO SLEEP WITH A VAMPIRE, a direct-to-video remake, is vastly inferior.
Thirsty anti-hero Jacob (Scott Valentine, probably the least feral actor ever fitted for plastic fangs) is squeamish about killing, even though he's been at it for centuries. At a strip club, he fixates on beguiling but troubled pole dancer Nina (Charlie Spradling) and takes the listless B-girl
to his bachelor pad. Realizing she's doomed to the ultimate one-night stand, Nina goes through all the classic stages of an individual facing death; anger, denial, bargaining, acceptance, stripping, helping Jacob lose his virginity (this is, after all, an exploitation film). Jacob moans all night
about how he's never seen the sun and finally gives Nina a taste of his blood, so she can temporarily feel the supernatural power and hunger of the undead. This infusion helps Nina fight off her captor in the last crucial moments before daybreak. Defeated, as perhaps he truly wanted to be, the
vampire commits suicide by walking into sunlight, despite Nina's pleas for him to save himself.
The writer-director of DANCE OF THE DAMNED, actress-turned-filmmaker Katt Shea Ruben (POISON IVY), evoked an eerie and complex dialectic of predator and prey who constantly shifted roles; it was heavy stuff even for a picture intent on displaying female flesh with softcore-porn regularity. But
TO SLEEP WITH A VAMPIRE is utterly clueless, despite the artsy camera angles and Nigel Holton's mournful music. Vital dramatic moments are laughably unconvincing, dialogue falls like lead weights, and whenever things get really boring director Adam Friedman brings in a dumb biker bully for Jacob
to toss the length of a city block. Despite slow-motion effects and clawlike fingernails, Scott Valentine (best known for his juvenile role on TV's "Family Ties") remains shockingly unscary, more Jonathan Harker than Dracula. Spradling, a raven-haired beauty usually relied upon to bare her
formidable body in horror flicks, is hopelessly out of her depth here, apparently forgetting that she's supposed to be terrified. TO SLEEP WITH A VAMPIRE might have been made interesting--or at least justified--by a gender switch making Spradling the dominant nosferatu and Valentine her cringing
prisoner. (Sexual situations, adult situations, nudity, profanity, substance abuse, violence.)