Once upon a time Alyssa Milano was a young sitcom star, popular for her role as a feisty daughter on Who’s the Boss?, the long-running series starring Tony Danza. She grew up before America and wanted to transition as an adult to more serious roles when that show ended its run. In 1995 she decided to drastically change her image in Embrace of the Vampire, shedding all of her clothes for the film’s explicit nude scenes.
The movie quickly earned its status as a cult classic, primarily due to the aforementioned nude scenes. This was long before the Internet became a mainstream option for adult content, hence a tawdry, campy vampire movie shot to inexplicable fame due to its main star’s nude scenes. In that regard Embrace of the Vampire delivers in spades, as it opens with several nude vampire nymphs devouring a man in blood. The plot only gets raunchier from there, including a drug-induced orgy, lesbianism and a sexy cameo from Jennifer Tilly. Alyssa Milano’s male admirers will not be disappointed in any way with this unrated cut of the film.
The story has a few elements of horror, mainly the unnamed Eurotrash vampire (Martin Kemp), but it is not really in the horror genre. No, the plot revolves around the journey of a young freshman in college, Charlotte (Alyssa Milano). Charlotte was raised in a convent and is about to turn eighteen. Chris (Harold Pruett) is her boyfriend and has been pressuring the virginal Charlotte for sex on her birthday. Which begs the question, how many college girls in 1995 were still growing up in convents? The innocent Charlotte is apparently the vampire’s true love and he needs her to love him in three days, or he goes off to eternal sleep.
Without its erotic elements the story is largely schlock, though it does hang together in a fairly lucid manner. This is not a movie one watches for its intricate plot or characterization, but it certainly has its satisfying moments. Alyssa Milano’s transformation from innocent girl to provocative vixen by film’s end is a remarkable metaphor for her actual career in acting. Fans of the sitcom star will cherish Embrace of the Vampire, while others will be mystified by the tepid horror elements. The supporting cast includes a number of actresses that would go on to bigger roles in genre flicks, most notably Jordan Ladd and Rachel True.
The picture quality doesn’t look bad… for DVD. Anchor Bay has served up a complete upscale sourced from standard definition for this ugly 1080P presentation. Dull colors and a dismally flat contrast are the video highlights of this substandard “Hi-Def” transfer. The movie is properly framed in its native 1.85:1 aspect ratio, though it does lose the open-matte, 4:3 option found on the original DVD.
It can be confirmed that the film is featured in its more explicit unrated version, running 92:39 on a BD-25. The main feature’s AVC-video encode averages 26.76 Mbps, suitably handling the light grain and murky resolution without a hitch. The best thing that can be said is this SD transfer comes from a clean print, free of damage or debris.
Evaluating the BD’s picture quality as if it were a DVD, the image lacks superior resolution and color fidelity. Shadowy scenes descend into macroblocking and black crush, obscuring fine detail and clarity. The well-lit nude scenes hold up much better under these terms. The video makes for an average presentation against normal DVDs.
If one is hoping to see Alyssa Milano in true HD, you can look elsewhere. This Blu-ray is not an upgrade over the prior DVD, aside from incremental improvements seen from the improved compression techniques available on Blu-ray.
Embrace of the Vampire has a serviceable 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, likely expanded from the original Ultra Stereo mix. The 1995 audio is slightly dated by today’s standards, given the low-budget nature of this direct-to-video film. There is modest surround activity to support pivotal scenes and average bass content. Dialogue is intelligible and in perfect balance with the music provided by composer Joseph Williams.
Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles are provided by Anchor Bay, which display in a white font.
The only included special features are two trailers that precede the main menu.
I Spit On Your Grave trailer (01:23 in HD)
Lovelace trailer (02:30 in HD)
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.