Embrace of the Vampire

Year: 1995
Production Co: The Ministry of Film
Director: Anne Goursand
Writer: Halle Eaton/Nicole Coady/Rick Bitzelberger
Cast: Alyssa Milano, Martin Kemp, Harold Pruett, Jennifer Tilly, Rebecca Ferratti

Just like the pre-internet era made underground superstars out of Sylvia Kristel and Bo Derek because it was so hard to see naked women easily, I can imagine this movie was very anticipated back in the day because we'd all seen Alyssa Milano blossom into such a lovely young woman during the Who's the Boss years, and suddenly she was appearing in an erotic horror movie.

And there are a decent number of full frontal topless and nude scenes of the then-23 year-old if that's what you're there for. Other than that, it's a candle-lit, Playboy channel-inspired tragic love story where an unnamed vampire lives (somewhat ridiculously) in the belfry of a university (Martin Kemp, him off Spandau Ballet, doing his best 'tortured' mugging).

The opening coda explains how, as a peasant boy, he fell in love with a local noblewoman. When he loses her he's in turn bitten and turned by three seductive Bride of Dracula types, cursed to eternity.

Centuries later he sees the chaste young student Charlotte (Milano), a devout Christian who – because she's insisting on waiting for the right time with her patient boyfriend Chris (Harold Pruett) – is also still a virgin.

For some reason I don't remember, he only has a few days to consummate his relationship with her by having her give herself to him before he dies, so the race is on. Charlotte begins having disturbing and erotic visions, drawn to him and his influence and embarking on a series of increasingly out-of-character behaviours like attending a campus party where she dresses vampishly and drinks execssively, following an atractive female photography student home and going to bed with her, etc.

Chris wonders what's going on with his suddenly-sexy new girlfriend, but he recognises she's in danger as the vampire tempts Charlotte ever-closer to his wiles where he'll ensnare her forever.

It's blocked and shot very televisually, where it probably did most of its business, but there are a few weird dichotomies on show that will grab your interest. It doesn't exactly pull its punches with the sexuality – the scene of Chris and the vampire going at Charlotte as she lies writhing on a bed is fairly hot – but there's at least one quite forceful use of the 'c' word and a single scene of brutal violence, the impacts of which are never repeated, the rest of it a corny, Harlequin-tinged, gilt-edged love story.

Worth seeing if you had a crush on Samantha Micelli like I did when she came of age, but both the story and execution are dreadfully asinine.

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