When vampire horror aficionados talk about cult classics in the genre that were released in the early days of the DVD platform, one title that’s often on the tip of thier salacious tongues is Alyssa Milano’s Embrace of the Vampire. No, it’s not written or directed or even produced by the former Who’s The Boss? star, but that’s not the point. This movie is the embodiment of Alyssa Milano in every which way. You see, this film was very taboo back in the day, and while it may be tame compared to today’s standards back in 1995 the MPAA wore even tighter panties as they swore up and down and reluctantly agreed to a rated R-rating for strong sexuality, violence and language. There was also a more graphic version of the film, which is only 1 minute longer than the previously mentioned rated-R cut, and it’s billed as unrated. And I’ll be the first to admit, that when the DVD platform launched back in the 90’s and Amazon was the buzz of the world, this title was among the first DVD’s I purchased and proudly owned in my collection (it contained both the rated and unrated versions). I guess if you really wanted to drill down and classify this baby, it could also be considered that of the erotic horror genre too. But enough about the history of it, let’s spend the next few minutes talking about the beautiful Miss Alyssa Milano and 1995’s Embrace of the Vampire.
To be quite honest with you, I’m not sure Embrace of the Vampire ever saw the light of day (no pun intended) theatrically in the United States other than its May 30th video premiere (according to sources referenced on IMDb). I believe it did see a release in the Netherlands, but that’s all I know of. My reasons for volunteering to review this catalog Blu-ray release was selfishly two-folded. First, I wanted to see Alyssa Milano in…um…that suit she wears so finely in this movie. I mean, who wouldn’t? And second, like just about all the films from my past (unless we are talking Fight Club or the Star Wars movies), my curiosity got the best of me in wanting to see how this one has stood the test of time, effects wise and just overall in general. My optimism coming into this review is pretty low so I’m banking on the belief that my first reason for wanting to re-visit this one will handsomely pay off. So here’s me rolling the dice. Now let’s talk about it.
So like I was saying above, this is the first time that the the infamous erotic Embrace of the Vampire has graced its presence on the Blu-ray format. Why has it taken so long? I have no idea. You mean to tell me a studio releases films like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure many many years ago, but not this title up until now?! The nerve of them! But let’s take a moment to think about what this truly means for all of us who grew up in the 80’s. It means our favorite childhood star is naked now in 1080p. So toss aside those old scratched DVD copies, we have a new boss in town! Yeah that’s right! Remember that website called Mr. Skin? I’m not sure if that is still around anymore. I gave up that life when I got married so many years ago. However, I do fondly remember the site and they were notorious for loving and crushing big time on Ashley Judd so I guess you could say I was once a big fans of theirs. So what’s my point here? My point is the following. Once upon a time, Mr. Skin called this “the sexiest movie of all time!” Now you see why I so wanted to tackle this Blu-ray review and jumped up and down on my bed like a giddy teenager when it was announced? Alright! I’m glad we’re finally on the same page.
In addition to the “charming” Alyssa Milano, the film boasts a cast of the likes of Martin Kemp, Charlotte Lewis, Jordan Ladd, Rachel True, Rebecca Ferratti, Glori Gold and Jennifer Tilly. If the last name sounds familiar, it should! I was like Jennifer Tilly, I know that name, but from where?! Duh! Chucky! She’s Tiffany from the Chucky flicks! Now you know horror doesn’t get more hardcore than Chucky. And yes, I’m trying to type that with a straight face (although feel free to visit my most recent review of the new film here).
And so last night, after 5+ long hours spent on reviewing Pacific Rim (here), I revisited Embrace of the Vampire on Blu-ray, a film I have not seen since the late 90’s. Surprisingly, it holds up quite well despite the hokey story line. It still feels a tad shocking and taboo. So that’s a good thing. More than once my girlfriend looked over at me and asked what the heck are you watching. I swear, every time she looked around at the HDTV screen it was another boob sucking scene as she warmly puts it even though I kept reassuring her it was a vampire flick. LOL. Yep there’s a lot of that going on in here…an awful lot. But I’m not complaining. I’m just reporting the facts. My girlfriend eventually ended up joining me on the couch for the movie’s “climaxing” third act.
So here’s the deal…if I had to describe this film anyway I would call it a soft porn version of today’s Vampire Diaries. That’s exactly what it felt like to me. There’s relationship drama and sexual temptation spewing everywhere in this flick just like in the CW show. The only thing that separates it is the nudity. And as the Lord as my witness, it is plentiful throughout. It kind of makes me curious as to how far the 2013 remake pushes the boundaries, but I’ll let Jami cover that more in detail in her upcoming Blu-ray review of it. All I will say is I wasn’t disappointed like I thought I would be. The story may be a bit on the lame side, but the feature has held up quite well over the years, in my opinion.
Embrace of the Vampire, titled The Nosferatu Diaries: Embrace of the Vampire in the film’s main onscreen credits, tells the tale of a young Catholic girl named Charlotte (Milano). Despite being beautiful and almost having a year of college under her belt, she’s still a virgin. It’s the classic scenario where her boyfriend on the other hand, Chris (Harold Pruett), is kind of sexually frustrated after a year of dating and no nookie. I guess that’s understandable, right? I mean they’re young. He’s a horny guy. She’s a great looking gal. It all makes perfect sense. But wait! There’s a love triangle forming as a vampire enters the picture (actually the film starts with his backstory). Portrayed by Martin Kemp, this vampire only has three days to live and in order to survive he must secure Charlotte’s love for him. However, there can be no doubt in her love. She must truly love him. But Charlotte loves Chris. You see the dilemma here? Oh the issues! So the vampire plans and schemes as he sets out to infuse doubt into Charlotte’s mind of whether she really loves Chris or not. He invades her dreams laying sexual conquests over her and fills her thoughts with sexual ecstasy. Now Charlotte must come to grip with what’s good and what’s evil, and most importantly who she really loves as she starts experimenting with her so well kept until now, sexuality (I’m referring to the cult classic lesbian scene). It’s a classic tale of good versus evil with a love triangle intertwined. Chris can’t offer her eternal life, but does that mean she should shack up with the vampire? The vampire does everything he possibly can to persuade her and removes all obstacles in his way. I use the word “removes” politely as I really mean dispenses or kills. Oh! You wanted an answer huh? No way! I peaked your curiosity. Now you’re just going to have to check this cult classic out for yourself if you’ve never seen it. Come on, do it for the culture and art of it all…if the girlfriend gives you any crap over it.
I was really expecting the video presentation of this Blu-ray release to be muddy and quite ugly, but low and behold Anchor Bay really surprised me with this one. There are few specs and minor blemishes here or there, but for the most part this 1080p AVC MPEG-4 video codec transfer looks above average throughout and nearly fills your HDTV set with its full 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. And astonishingly, black levels also look dynamite and dark throughout. Like I said, I’m really happy with this one. It does not have the razor sharp chiseled look that Pacific Rim does on Blu-ray, but did you really expect it to? Colors are rich and warm with natural skin tones abound (as we see a lot of skin in this one if you remember). As a result, things look a little filtered and soft at times, but it plays nice in harmony with the romanticism nature of the piece. You want Alyssa Milano to have soft skin, don’t you? Now that’s not to say that fine detail doesn’t creep up either…because it does! From Alyssa’s wavy light golden brown hair to the cracks in black leather, this transfer is both warm (I know I said that before) and inviting…just like any good vampire should strive for to sucker you into “inviting” them into your life (insert evil laugh and grin).
Another pleasant surprise on this Blu-ray disc was the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless surround audio. I’m not sure why I was setting this disc up for failure from the get-go, but I regret doing so since I have been proven wrong a total of three times now. Things, like the video above, are above average for a catalog release and it really never misses a beat. Like I said, this film plays out much like a CW Vampire Diaries episode so you wouldn’t expect much robust surround sound. However, I was astonished just how much the feature’s score bled into the rears. From the moans of the orgies to the leaves rustling in the trees within the forest, the 5.1 mix kept the soundstage alive and me in the middle for the greater part of it. Dialog was always intelligible and clear. So what’s not to like about it? It’s not reference. It’s just a great, campy catalog release mix that I am happy with. And I do have to give kudos to the movie’s orchestration. The score was quirky and moody and kept the atmosphere fun, engaging and in check because it was loud and engaging.
I would love to say it was worth the wait for Embrace of the Vampire on the Blu-ray format because of all the extras and whatnot, but sadly that’s not the case. It’s been awhile since we pulled out the goose egg on the site, but I feel the time is right today. Other than the Anchor Bay trailers for I Spit on Your Grave (not even the newest one) and Lovelace when I first popped the disc into my Blu-ray player, there are no extra goodies to be found here at all. Boo! So let’s just be lucky for what we got…Alyssa Milano unrated and naked in 1080p!!!
Since there’s really no special features to talk about, I thought it would at least be cool to honor this cult favorite with some exclusive unboxing shots of the Blu-ray packaging, the disc and its main onscreen menu. What say you?
A virgin Blu-ray…never been tampered with…what a beautiful sight.
Here’s posterior of the Blu-ray case with its plastic assets still intact.
As you can see from the security sticker below, it’s referred to as the 95′ version.
Wow! I really love her face on this Blu-ray disc, don’t you?
And here’s the money shot ladies and gentlemen, its maiden voyage.
Excuse the rough picture, but here’s the disc’s ever changing main menu.
Pretty nice shots above huh? Well thanks!
So this isn’t really a question about whether or not this Blu-ray release is any good. Be honest with yourself. You’re here just like I am because you remember this film back in the 90’s. You remember how hard it was to score an unrated copy over the years. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been wondering why this and Double Jeopardy and Normal Life have been absent so long from a coveted Blu-ray release. So I’m down to the latter two titles now in my Blu-ray wish fund, but luckily I can check off Embrace of the Vampire now. It’s a cult classic and I’m happy to finally own it on the Blu-ray format. Thank you Anchor Bay! It’s been a long wait and it’s finally over. With a decent audio and video presentation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t upgrade your DVD to this Blu-ray release. Alyssa wants you to. Isn’t that reason enough? So when you are watching this film on Blu-ray this holiday season remember one thing. Don’t invite any vampires in, no matter how much they charm you. However, if you want to live an eternal life, then you should do the complete opposite of what I just recommended. Happy Halloween everyone! I think I only have one more Blu-ray horror title to go this month, The Conjuring. And remember to keep your eyes open on the site here for Jami Ferguson’s coverage of the upcoming remake, Embrace of the Vampire 2013.
P.S. I do love how they kept the classic look of the unrated DVD cover on this catalog Blu-ray release. Thanks again, Anchor Bay!
Embrace of the Vampire stays out of the shadows until its release date on October 15th. If you like what you read above, please help support our site by pre-ordering it here.