The original Embrace of the Vampire (1995) was an erotic thriller in the true sense of the term, mostly earning notoriety for Alyssa Milano’s transition from sitcom star to baring it all for films. This very loose remake shares few traits with the original besides both being set in college and including vampires. The flimsy vampire story is propped up by some gratuitous nudity and not much else. It never fully embraces its purpose as an erotically-charged film, content to being a third-rate vampire tale that never fully gets off the ground and ends with a whimper.
Charlotte Hawthorn (Sharon Hinnendael) is a new freshman at college, going to school on a full scholarship for fencing. The men around her are drawn to the young beauty, from her fencing coach to her boss at the coffee shop. Professor Cole (Victor Webster) does double duty as her teacher and new coach. Chris (Ryan Kennedy) is her boss, hitting on her almost from the first moment they meet.
Charlotte has strange dreams, either of her being seduced or getting covered in blood. She starts waking up in odd places and begins to lose time. We hardly ever see any actual vampires except in brief flashes. The girls on the fencing team get catty with Charlotte, leading her into rookie hazing for the team. Drunk and confused, Charlotte is “seduced” by one of her teammates into a quick hook-up. This is primarily the extent of the erotic action in the entire movie, which is an odd direction to take considering the original version had significant salacious content. The scene does earn its unrated distinction but is not enough by itself to justify sitting through a tepid vampire story.
Charlotte’s blood disorder starts manifesting and a mysterious women with a horrible Eastern European accent promises to tell Charlotte about her heritage. Embrace of the Vampire’s confusing mythology is a pastiche of familiar concepts from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other well-known properties. Charlotte’s bloodline is special and the unidentified vampire hunting her down needs Charlotte, as a virgin, to give herself willingly to him.
The film’s main fault lies in its final act, which chews through plot developments at a reckless pace like it is racing against the clock. After an hour of nothing but struggles on campus, the vampire reveals himself in a cheap twist that makes little sense. It goes downhill from there, as Charlotte’s friends start getting killed off.
This Embrace of the Vampire is an enigma. It is a movie that would fit better into Cinemax’s late-night schedule, if those type of movies had better actors and less sex. The attractive cast is not unrecognizable, as many of them having small roles on current television shows. Embrace of the Vampire barely works as a horror film and it never gets juicy enough in other ways to justify its existence.
Anchor Bay has given Embrace of the Vampire a beautiful presentation. The pristine 1080P video is shot in crystal-clarity like a brightly-lit soap opera. Its AVC video encode shows subtle hints of artifacting, but the banding is confined to a few scattered shots. The digital transfer looks immaculate and left unprocessed by both sharpening and filtering.
The pitch-perfect picture quality is stunning in the crisp exterior scenes, highlighting excellent contrast with rich texture and focus. Its resolution is outstanding, displaying oodles of fine detail when necessary. Wider shots are just a tad softer than the razor-sharp close-ups. Inky black levels reveal superior shadow delineation except one questionable scene when Charlotte first meets Professor Cole.
If the bright image has one minor flaw, highlights are slightly blown-out in flesh-tones. White levels tend to clip a tiny bit, though the effect on contrast is limited.
The sole audio option is a fine 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. It is less refined than mixes from bigger-budgeted productions but capably serves up some ambiance in the surround channels and has excellent mid-bass rumble. Intelligible dialogue is firmly anchored to the center channel, offset by a clichéd musical score that makes all of the typical horror cues. As a modern recording, the fidelity and dynamic range are quite good. This is a fairly standard audio presentation for an independent movie these days.
English SDH and Spanish subtitles are offered as choices, displaying in a white font.
The combo pack does include a DVD version of the film. Three trailers are included that precede the main menu. That is all for extra features.
Trailers – I Spit On Your Grave remake (01:23 in HD), Lovelace (02:30 in HD), The Lords of Salem (02:12 in HD)
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