October 8, 2013

Embrace of the Vampire (2013)

"Sharon Hinnendael stars as Charlotte, a timid and sheltered teen who has just left an all-girls Catholic school for a new life at a co-ed university. But an ancient evil has followed her here, tormenting her with disturbing nightmares and tempting her with forbidden desires."

Not so much a remake of "Embrace of the Vampire" (1995) as it is a remix of scenes from "The Initiation of Sarah" (1978), "Carrie" (1976), and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992) with more boobs, at least this version has a better plot and some decent horror moments. It's still mainly an excuse to be sexy as Hell though, and it plays out as a typical exploitation movie, so trust me, you won't be disappointed!

Sharon Hinnendael does a fantastic job in the lead role and is certainly not ashamed to be kissed and fondled by nearly everyone she meets, no matter what their gender, age, or state of monsterdom might be. In this way, "Embrace of the Vampire" stays true to the original in terms of its softcore porn elements. The usual clique of hypocritical prudes will probably hate the female nudity because nothing is toned-down, and the infamous lesbian sex scene is even more explicit and engorging, but the target audience will be grabbing their box of tissues in delight!

For those who care about the story, many details have been added and fleshed-out (no pun intended) including Charlotte's convent school upbringing, the courses she's taking at University, her part-time job in a coffee shop, and a genetic blood disorder which causes her to have hallucinations. Although this Charlotte is more modern and less of an easy lay than Alyssa Milano's version, Sharon Hinnendael repeats some of her predecessor's annoying mannerisms such as avoiding eye-contact and looking at something more interesting on the ground either through shyness or a mild case of Asperger's Syndrome. Obviously, that's just the character and a homage because there's no way that Sharon Hinnendael is shy about anything!

Further plot changes include a creepy fortune-teller type who seems to have escaped from a Val Lewton movie, a ton of bitchiness from the snobby/jealous members of the fencing club, a sorority-style hazing, and a camping trip in the woods which ends badly for Charlotte's friends. Fortunately, these clich├ęs aren't as annoying as you might think, and there are no bizarre orgies in nightclubs or gender-changing shenanigans to spoil things either.

I am not Buffy! I just look like her and do Buffy things.

The vampiric moments are beautifully violent and gory, and to give credit where it's most certainly due, Victor Webster (channelling a mixture of Chris Sarandon and Billy Zane) is a much better vampire than Martin "Spandau Ballet" Kemp. His cover as a University professor isn't a million miles away from the new Gerri Dandridge in "Fright Night 2: New Blood" however, but as the latter's desire for a virgin victim also borrows from the original "Embrace of the Vampire", it's only fair. Nothing is ever original in the vampire genre anyway, but it does make you wonder what awful experiences the filmmakers must have had with their teachers to perpetuate this trend of undead academics.

As with most Canadian movies, there's some obvious typecasting to compete with American productions. Kaniehtiio Horn (yes, that really is her name) looks and sounds a lot like Tiffany Shepis (complete with horrible L.A. affectations), and I've always thought that Ryan Kennedy (the new Chris) looks amazingly like a younger version of fellow Canadian Joshua Jackson (from "Fringe"). Somebody really needs to put Ryan Kennedy in a movie as Joshua Jackson's younger brother or earlier self one day! Other lookalikes such as Robert Moloney who plays the University's bursar as a Bob Newhart type, and Olivia Cheng who reminds me of one of the "Star Trek" girls whose name I can't remember, are surrounded by further stereotypical characters for padding.

Maybe it was because I was tired and easily pleased when I watched it, but I actually enjoyed "Embrace of the Vampire" considerably more than I thought I would. It's nicely filmed and paced, but it loses points for the rushed ending which goes in a different direction than the more interesting and happier one that I expected. Thus, I'm going to rate it as "average" for a horror movie, but the sexiness makes it worth purchasing for purely sinister reasons.

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