In this incredibly silly film from 1995, Martin Kemp plays The Vampire. He doesn’t get a name but he does get a backstory. Back when he was mortal, the Vampire pursued a secret and forbidden affair with a princess. One day, after making love, the man who would became the Vampire was laying down next to a stream when he was approached by three naked women who proceeded to bite his neck and vampirize him.
Centuries later, the Vampire is sickly and approaching the end of his existence. He only has three days to convince the reincarnation of his former lover to allow him to drink her blood so that he can continue to exist. And apparently it won’t work unless she’s a virgin and unless she rejects all others and loves only him. That sounds like a lot of rules to me and, to be honest, most of them seem to be kind of arbitrary. Not only does The Vampire have to find the reincarnation of the Princess but he has to find her before she loses her virginity or otherwise, what? She’ll cease to be the reincarnation? Her love will somehow be devalued? Her blood will no longer be worth drinking? If this vampire has had to spend centuries only drinking blood from virgins who were in love with him, no wonder he looks so sickly. I really think that maybe the other vampires were playing a practical joke when they explained the rules to him. Hazing the new guy, it has consequences!
Anyway, the princess has been reincarnated as Charlotte (a young Alyssa Milano). Fortunately, for the Vampire, Charlotte was raised in a convent and, even though she is now a college student, she’s still a virgin who blushes when she even hears the word sex. Unfortunately, Charlotte has a boyfriend named Chris (Harrison Pruett) and she’s thinking about losing her virginity if she can convince herself that she loves Chris more than any other person that she will ever possibly meet. So, the Vampire not only has to convince Charlotte to fall in love with him but he also has to make sure that she doesn’t have sex beforehand. It’s going to be difficult because everyone on campus is determined to get Charlotte laid. This has all the makings of Italian sex comedy but Embrace of the Vampire instead takes its plot very seriously.
The Vampire starts to appear in Charlotte’s dreams. He gives her an ankh to replace the cross that Chris gave her. Because the Ankh is a symbol of desire, just wearing it makes Charlotte more sexually aggressive and soon, she’s wearing short skirts, low-cut tops, and white stockings. She’s also making out with Sarah (Charlotte Lewis), the photographer who lives in the dorm room next to hers. (As played by Charlotte Lewis, Sarah is actually an interesting character and it’s a shame that the film pretty much just uses her for titillation.) But since the Vampire’s whole thing is keeping Charlotte from losing her virginity, why would he give her something that would make her more open to sexual experiences? Again, it’s hard not to think that the Vampire is just the victim of an elaborate practical joke.
As I said at the start of the review, Embrace of the Vampire is incredibly silly. It’s also a film that seems to be a bit popular with viewers of a certain age. I’m assuming that’s because of the frequent Alyssa Milano nudity and that one scene with Charlotte Lewis. For the most part, Alyssa Milano gives a bland performance in Embrace of the Vampire. It’s not so much that she’s bad as everything about her performance is on the surface. One gets the feeling that there’s really not much going on with Charlotte’s inner life, both before and after she starts dreaming about The Vampire. As The Vampire, Martin Kemp appears to be absolutely miserable. He comes across as if he’d rather be anywhere than appearing in this movie.
That said, the film’s director got her start working with Francis Ford Coppola and she has a good eye for gothic scenery and atmosphere. A scene where Charlotte imagines a frat party turning into a Hellish orgy is effectively done. Jennifer Tilly has a small role as a vampire and she has said that Quentin Tarantino approached her at the Oscars to tell her that he enjoyed the movie. It’s a silly movie (yes, third time I’ve used that specific term and that should tell you just how silly it is) but, for better or worse, it epitomizes an era.