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Embrace of the Vampire(1995)
In the tradition of Poison Ivy, Alyssa Milano, (Charmed, Poison Ivy 2: Lily) plays Charlotte, a sensuous but innocent college freshman who is being seduced by an obsessive lover. A lover, (Martin Kemp, The Krays) who comes to her only in dreams - a dark, handsome vampire who touches her in forbidden places and will stop at nothing to arouse her passion. As she is drawn deeper and deeper into the vampire's erotic world of carnal pleasure, Charlotte is forced to make a choice between her college boyfriend and her nighttime lover, between sweet romance and uncontrollable lust, between the forces of light and the power of darkness, between true love...and eternal possession.
For more about Embrace of the Vampire and the Embrace of the Vampire Blu-ray release, see Embrace of the Vampire Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 22, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Alyssa Milano, Martin Kemp (I), Jordan Ladd, Rachel True, Charlotte Lewis, Jennifer Tilly
Director: Anne Goursaud
» See full cast & crew
Embrace of the Vampire Blu-ray Review
Not a Blu-ray to embrace.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 22, 2013
I have found her.
Embrace of the Vampire, for lack of a better term, embraces a rather simple premise and runs, or more precisely, walks briskly with it. It's built around the classic virgin's-virginity-in-peril angle, its plot little more than the heroine's growing temptations of the flesh clashing with her long-standing values of chastity and morality and a lifelong desire to save herself for the right man at the right time. The film lovingly embraces a dark but alluring sensuality but also takes its time to serviceably develop its characters, even if only in the name trying to eek out a little more drama in what is a rather straightforward premise that's without much in the way of urgency other than that manufactured by the plot. The story feels of secondary importance to the eroticism and the style with which it's presented. It's gloomy and sometimes enticing, intoxicating and sometimes dragging. There's a solid core but a rather flimsy outer shell; the two never quite find the cohesion necessary to make this much more than a serviceable and occasionally captivating bit of escapist erotica.
University newcomer Charlotte (Alyssa Milano) is a classic good girl, the product of a strict Catholic education that's taught her the value of sexual purity before marriage. However, temptations arise almost immediately. Away from the safety and constant reinforcement of her sheltered existence, she suddenly finds herself friends with much more promiscuous and sexually adept classmates. She's prodded to engage in sexual activity and finds herself the punch line of a number of jokes. Perhaps the strongest temptation comes from her boyfriend, Chris (Harrison Pruett), a good guy whose patience with Charlotte is wearing thin. They're fourteen months into the relationship and Chris is demanding more. It's the sort of dynamic any girl like Charlotte would reasonably expect to encounter at a modern university, but little could she foresee the true fate awaiting her and the very real temptations formed not exclusively of the flesh but from deeper within her subconscious.
An ancient vampire (Martin Kemp) who long ago loved the woman who stole his heart and owned his soul was one day approached by several beautiful women and transformed into a vampire. For centuries he's remained as he was, young and still deeply in love. He's searched the world over and has finally found her soul reincarnated in Charlotte. The vampire has but three more days to live lest he can convince Charlotte to love him. He uses everything in his power to enter into her dreams, drop her guard, and have her willingly give herself to him. Slowly, Charlotte falls under the seductive spell and transforms into somebody nobody can recognize save for the unmistakable thirst that's suddenly very much evident in her eyes and on her lips.
Embrace of the Vampire does its thing well enough. There's plenty of titillating sensuality in the film, photographed about as tastefully as such things can be, all of it woven into the plot rather than the plot built as an excuse to fill the screen with needless nudity. There's not a lot more to the film, however. It's a very straightforward story with minimal plot and only enough characterization to advance it forward, define the characters, and paint them so as to distinguish the good, the bad, and the indifferent caught in the middle. The film relies as much on its atmosphere as it does its sensuality. It's certainly very stylish and moody, rather dark but at the same time oddly inviting. In short, it feels rather elegantly made, certainly not by commercial standards but there's enough here beyond the obvious to entice cinephiles with a craving for pictures that rise above point and shoot. It's also significantly darker than the rather glossy and watchable but ultimately forgettable remake. This is the better film, and it's quite the disparate experience when compared to the 2013 edition, despite sharing the name and basic premise.
The film's shadowy, rather moody style is reflected in the characters. They're all in some way mysterious beyond their superficial traits, hiding feelings and exposing ulterior motivations as the film progresses. They're all constructed for the sole purpose of testing Charlotte's limits, in many ways unwitting and, generally, unknowing minions of the vampire character whose burden is, in a roundabout way, slightly lessened by the nature of the university setting and the promiscuity that runs rampant in Charlotte's world. The film does an excellent job of portraying her as an island of purity under siege by an endless barrage of temptation, a barrage that's only worsened by the quickly growing presence of the vampire's shadow in her dreams and, gradually, in her waking life. Alyssa Milano embraces her character's dynamics very well and believably portrays her descent towards temptation and a lifestyle she does not understand with an outward allure and inward grasp of her character's losing fight. Martin Kemp also impresses with his rather traditional representation of a tortured soul desperate to escape a dark and tumultuous existence.
Embrace of the Vampire Blu-ray, Video Quality
Embrace of the Vampire features a troubled Blu-ray transfer. The image often looks severely processed, very flat, and lacking firm textures and natural colors. Things begin rather poorly with a wobbly opening title sequence that's accompanied by a hint of artificial sharpening and numerous pops and speckles, all of which remain throughout the picture. Things hardly improve from there. Black levels fluctuate from crushing dark to a dark purple shade. The early flashback scenes push a bronze shade and a natural softness (seemingly by design) but it's so soft that there's hardly any definition beyond basic shapes. Flash forward and find campus buildings that lack the sort of rough, realistic textures they require. Skin details are soft and lacking. The image appears hopelessly flat and the color palette lacks even a hint of vibrancy. The image additionally suffers from some occasionally jagged edges. One of the most offending scenes appears when Charlotte finds Chris in her bed in the first act. The entire sequence has the look of shady standard definition, packed with compression issues to the point that it seems always on the verge of a digital collapse. At its best, the image offers dull colors and basic definition within a fairly soft frame, which, in the film's defense, does seem to be its natural state. Nevertheless, there's enough wrong here that fans will likely be disappointed with this release.
Embrace of the Vampire Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Embrace of the Vampire features a serviceable Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Musical delivery fails to offer a tight, realistic, robust presence, though spacing is fine and there's a pronounced surround support element. Cracks of thunder and other heavier ambient effects fill the stage nicely enough and play with sufficient clarity while still lacking that lifelike dynamic found on the best tracks. background ambience, at a bar, for example, often comes across as muddled and absent a more refined precision. Dialogue, for the most part, enjoys solid front-center presence and clarity but also occasionally finds itself a bit more shallow than expected. This is a fairly straightforward sort of track. It handles the basic dynamics well enough but won't ascend to the top of the catalogue lossless heap.
Embrace of the Vampire Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Embrace of the Vampire contains no supplemental content.
Embrace of the Vampire Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Embrace of the Vampire excels as a dark, moody, and stylish work of erotic cinema art. It suffers under the weight of a fairly bland, straightforward script, but a few solid supporting actors and a couple of spirited performances from the leads help make Embrace of the Vampire a fundamentally sound picture that's captivating beyond the obvious allure of its erotic nature. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Embrace of the Vampire features troubled video, decent audio, and no supplements. Recommended to dedicated fans of the film and recommended as a rental to others.
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