New Line // 1995 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Rob "Treg" Traegler (Retired) // January 20th, 2000
The innocence is gone.
The innocence is gone. And so is the credibility of everyone at New Line Home Video if they keep wasting valuable disc space on lackluster films like this one. I know their catalog is light and this was one of their titles from the early, hungry years of New Line, but I 'm not sure if it's DVD worthy.
Alyssa Milano returns, in another attempt at a full-fledged movie career, as a virginesque college student (again?) haunted in her dreams by a somewhat sexy vampire, portrayed by Gary Kemp (The Krays), who's immortality is in danger unless he bags Alyssa as his own eternal bride within three days. First he must steal her love away from her boyfriend (or de-flowerer-in-waiting) Chris, played with conviction by newcomer Harrison Pruett. Along the way, we're treated to soft-core dream sequences, bi-sexual subplots (featuring where-did-she-go actress Charlotte Lewis of The Golden Child), orgies in which most of the people are clothed, and many freeze frame opportunities featuring Ms. Milano's wondrous assets.
First of all, let me say that this movie is much more watchable than Poison Ivy 2: Lily which I had the misfortune of viewing and reviewing a few weeks ago. Is it a good movie? Um, it's a movie. It held my interest despite several eye-rolling scenes in which characters say and do things that NO one would say or do in real life. Alyssa's acting, however, is much better in this film. Ironically, her character, Charlotte, has to undergo a severe personality change (just like her character in Poison Ivy 2) as the vampire begins to take hold of her, and this time Alyssa rises to the acting challenge and delivers a credible performance.
Gary Kemp, as the titular (I love that word) vampire, walks a fine line in this film as he is, at times frightening and others laughable. He often looks like a strung out Nicolas Cage when he's trying to be sexy, crawling across the floor towards his virginal prey, or when he's licking a blood-covered door (please don't ask).
Jennifer Tilly (Bullets Over Broadway, Bride of Chucky) is pretty much wasted as a temptress meant to lure boyfriend Chris away to enable the vampire to be able to win over Charlotte by crawling across the floor towards her or licking her blood-covered door. Tilly appears in the last fifteen minutes of the film in a role that appears to be a favor to someone connected with the film.
In order to include several rated and un-rated erotic sequences in Embrace of the Vampire, so little plot development was discarded from this movie that the title character is listed in the end credits as "Vampire." Couldn't screenwriters Halle Eaton, Nicole Coady and Rick Bitzelberger have conjured up a cool vampire-esque name for this character? Maybe Crawlula perhaps or Doorlichtus. If you look closely however, while viewing the film, the opening title is The Nosferatu Diaries: Embrace of the Vampire but this is not mentioned on the cover art or disc itself, so I guess it's supposed to be Nosferatu.
The video quality of this disc is surprisingly grainy compared to newer New Line product and it almost has a Super-VHS look to it. The 5.1 Surround Sound fits the bill, but has a dated 1995-ish foley-enhanced characteristic to it, and only it excels when Williams' musical score rises. New Line offers rated and un-rated versions of this film, but there's no sequence in this film that needs to be classified as un-rated, it's a marketing ploy.
The cinematography by Suki Medencevic actually surpasses the level of this film and I think that's a name you're going to be hearing a lot. Joseph Williams' musical score is also quite evocative, considering the genre, and honestly every level of the filmmaking in Embrace of the Vampire is done quite professionally and Alyssa Milano steps up in the acting department and delivers. Director Anne Goursaud (Poison Ivy 2, Another 9 1/2 Weeks) is a quite capable director as she has also served as an editor on such films as Bram Stoker's Dracula and The Two Jakes. However, this 1995 film and its lack of successors, coupled with Ms. Milano's foray back into television, is proof positive that New Line will have better titles to work on in the future, like a Dumb and Dumber: Special Edition.
Is Embrace of the Vampire erotic? It's a close call, it's really hit or miss. Occasionally the action does get pretty steamy...and the Saturday night loner may want to consider this one for his collection, but it certainly wouldn't be for its Sophie's Choice-like plot and character development.
You have to give New Line Home Video credit, when DVD first came on the scene, they were right there at the outset, delivering special editions and all with titles like Austin Powers and The Player. So I really feel they deserve a light sentence for Embrace of the Vampire because they are trying to please all DVD consumers, even the Saturday night loner.
Review content copyright © 2000 Rob "Treg" Traegler; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Two Cuts of the Film
* Talent Bios