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Charmed indeed - if you have a healthy appetite for cheese
on 28 August 2003
There will always be a great pulling power to small, mostly forgotten movies starring now well known actors and (more frequently) actresses getting naked and naughty 'before they were famous.' In which case the distributors of this little picture must be rubbing their hands with glee, for they have not one but two popular stars getting down and dirty, back in 1994: Martin Kemp and (most significantly) Alyssa Milano.
Anyone approaching Embrace Of The Vampire should be clear on one thing straight away: this is not horror. This is that curious model of glossy, well-groomed softcore that would like to be known as 'Erotica' but is now more commonly known on these shores as 'Channel 5 Porn.' Given that the cover of this edition bears a recommendation from that cornerstone of British journalism, The Sport, its quite clear to whom the distributors expect this disc to appeal. And I won't lie: I'm a big fan of Charmed, and my main impetus behind buying this was to see the fabulous Ms Milano in states of undress. And, as such, this film was in no way a disappointment. Voyeuristic naughty boys like myself should be more than satisfied by the ammount of Alyssa on display here.
Interesting to note, however, that while this is most likely to be of interest to horny men, the writers and director of this film are in fact women. Clearly this is intended to be a provocative exploration into burgeoning female sexuality, as Alyssa's Catholic virgin falls deeper into desire under the dreamlike influence of Kemp's Vampire, who believes she is his lost love from his mortal days reincarnated. But it's no surprise that the scenarios and character developments are more than a little on the unconvincing side. It doesn't help matters that Kemp is so terribly miscast: his vocal mannersims are clumsy, his performance misjudged, his wardrobe frankly perplexing (now we know where Spike from Buffy got his look...).
Even so, it is refreshing to see a vampire movie that doesn't lapse into another apocalyptic battle scenario, and deals soley with the sexual side of the mythology. But all in all the greatest amusement comes from the frequent, unabashed use of trashy romance novel melodramatics. Behold how Alyssa's flowing white gown blows in the breeze as she walks (chest first) in a trance under the full moon; laugh loudly as the exposure of her breasts is accompanied by a gasp and a sudden surge in the music. Few people will admit to liking this sort of thing in public, myself included; but hey, so long as it's behind closed doors and between consenting adults, there's no one standing in judgement here.