Continuing the theme of reviewing an original film and its remake, the Journal today looks at both iterations of EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE – both the staple of 1990s Skinemax and the just released remake.
The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.
What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?
FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 80
(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 19 – OCT. 19, 2013)
EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE (1995) – Charlotte (Alyssa Milano) is the very picture of chastity and purity. She is a virginal college freshman – raised in a convent no less – who shuns the party life in favor of her studies and a boyfriend who hasn’t gotten to second base. In three days time, she will have her eighteenth birthday. That is also the time a vampire (Martin Kemp) will have to claim her or go to his eternal sleep. The vampire casts doubt in Charlotte and her boyfriend, with the hopes of winning Charlotte away. He uses their relationship and the carnal allure of college life to drive a wedge between the two.
As a horror film, EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE is pretty terrible. There is nothing remotely scary or suspenseful about the whole thing. Instead, we get a lot of the preening, overbearing European vampires that tried to ape the characters in Anne Rice novels and met with unintentionally humorous results. The direction by Anne Goursaud is flat and boring overall. The performance by Kemp is aggravating to the point of being embarrassing.
As a horror film, it’s a loser. But as eroticism, yikes! Believe it or not, this is the first time I have seen one of Milano’s more risqué films. I feel like I’ve been depriving myself for the last twenty year in not seeing her naked. She is undeniably sexy here, both as the vision of purity towards the beginning of the film and as the siren she threatens to become later. It’s also an accomplished performance, more so than you’d expect from this type of film.
This isn’t really a horror film about a vampire stalking his prey. What it’s actually about is a young woman choosing between constant sexual temptation and the risk of a monogamous committed relationship. EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE generates zero scares, but it does generate quite a bit of heat. The two even out into something watchable in the end. Barely Recommended.
EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE (2013) – In this remake of the 1995 relic of Alyssa Milano spankadelia, Charlotte (Sharon Hinnendael) is an orphan who has gotten a fencing scholarship to a prestigious university. Her mind is completely on her studies and her fencing. She makes a number of friends and at least one enemy in the bitch goddess Eliza (C.C. Sheffield). Almost immediately after arriving on campus, Charlotte starts sleepwalking. She experiences strange hallucinations and her concentration starts to slip. She is being stalked by something and she doesn’t know what or why. Soon, she discovers it’s part of her family lineage from centuries before, that she is cursed to be hunted by the vampire and must vanquish it before it’s too late.
Right away, one can see the major difference in this remake. Gone is the story of sexual temptation and in comes a genuine horror film. Director Carl Bessai makes sure to bring in the requisite skin and eroticism, including a lesbian tryst that puts the lie to Charlotte’s continued claims of virginity throughout the film. But for the most part, he seems committed to creating a suspenseful film that blends the “is she crazy?” noir celebrated in everything from REPULSION, THE HAUNTING, CARNIVAL OF SOULS and LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH to the psychological stalking of I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, CANDYMAN, PERSONA and STRAW DOGS. Naturally, EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE isn’t quite in the same league as those classics, but you get where I’m coming from.
Hinnendael gives a solid performance, constantly mumbling or looking away, just as someone with her personality traits would be expected to do.
Things seem to be going pretty well for the most part, though the mystery isn’t hard to figure out. Also, the last ten minutes or so wind up being unintentionally hilarious thanks to some late in the game, sub par CGI. Recommended.
Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 327
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