Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vampire’s Embrace – review

dvdDirector: Glenn Andreiev

Release date: 1991

Contains spoilers

To a degree I should have been warned when a DVD is presented as a “Camp Horror Double Feature”, but, to be fair, Camp is the name of the company behind the DVD and though the film is micro budget it did have the advantage of being pre-digicam and thus was able to hide some of the flaws.

Indeed, whilst none of the acting in this was particularly good I could have lived with it, if it wasn’t for the fatally flawed story telling.

garlic in mouthThe film begins with a group of youths breaking in to a crypt in order to party. Once in they break the Cardinal Rules (though, honestly, not breaking into the crypt to party should actually be a Cardinal Rule as well). They see a coffin, chained, and so break the chain (Cardinal Rule #1, never break the chain!) They open said coffin (Cardinal Rule #2, never open the coffin) and see that the corpse has some fairly mummified garlic in its mouth and thus they decide that they will remove that from the corpse’s mouth (Cardinal Rule #3, never take the garlic out of the corpse’s mouth).

risen is uglyHaving done all that they get down to a game of strip spin the bottle. The bottle points to a girl, her top comes off, and the next spin points to a bloke who takes a shoe off. The others laugh at him but he isn’t laughing, oh no, he’s seen something... a gore dripping corpse attacks, killing all the kids. Of course it is nothing more than they deserved – especially given the stupidity they demonstrated just a few moments earlier.

Bob Friedman (Paul Borghese) arrives on the commuter train and is going to get in his car when he realises that he has a flat tyre. A woman, Angela (Sarah Watchman), comes over and offers him the use of her jack. A fixed tyre later and he is on his way – though he reminds Angela that she is walking the wrong way to get back to her car. He gets home and his live-in-lover Roxy (Mimi Stuart) is going out with her friends.

After a brief view of someone being attacked whilst decorating, we are at the cinema – the next night – and Roxy and Bob are on their way in when she asks to borrow $40. He gives her $30. She nips out to the foyer, phones a male friend and arranges to be picked up, leaving Bob high and dry. He leaves the cinema, spots Roxy with the bloke and then bumps into Angela – he asks her out on a date.

Sarah Watchman as AngelaThe next evening he picks her up at the Historical Society building, by the cemetery. She claims to work there and we note she has a reflection in the polished door. They go to eat, she isn’t hungry but orders a raw burger when pushed. She is telling Bob about the historical society and mentions research on plague victims, from 200 years before, who had garlic placed in their mouths by superstitious villagers. Somehow she cuts her finger (on the rim of a drinking glass) and sucks at it in a way that could only draw attention. When Bob drives her back to the society building they briefly spot her boss, Mr Goodliffe (Burt Wright). We then see Goodliffe approach a coffin and tell the occupant, Cassandra (Edna Boyle), that Angela has just returned.

he never noticed that she was a vampireWe then see Angela and Bob at the local funfair and Roxy spots them too. Next we see them in a restored period building and Angela tells Bob that it was her Great (several times) Grandmother’s home, who had two daughters who died in the plague. Bob and Angela get down and dirty and then it is revealed… they are married… now how did that happen? Obviously Angela is a vampire and she has married Bob and somehow we didn’t see the wedding and he hasn’t worked out that anything is wrong.

He is driving her to work – apparently he drops her off, and then drives to catch the commuter train, before the sun rises and picks her up again after sunset. However they are caught by the sunrise and she suddenly acts all odd and claims she has a condition – strange, you’d think that might have come out before the marriage vows (and one wonders, did they find an all night wedding broker?)

dying bikerHe also starts noticing various things, like the fact he isn’t allowed to phone her at work. When he goes to her work in order that he might surprise her, the girl working there has never heard of her. Then there is the fact that she keeps sneaking out at night, dressed as whorishly as possible. Now, you’d think he might have mentioned to her that she was unheard of in her workplace (though Goodliffe, who is under vampiric thrall, eventually covered for her) and he did follow her when on her nightly sojourn and so – when she tried to pick up a guy not old enough to buy beer – he might have confronted her. But no, he simply continues to follow her to a biker bar. He then follows her, and a guy she picks up, all the way to the cemetery and then watches her kill him.

in the past Cassandra was killed by a vampireFor some reason he then gets involved in a search for the missing biker! It is all bad story telling as it makes no sense. As a viewer we cannot suspend belief enough to believe that these ‘little details’ only come out after they are married. Later – based on a police composite picture and the fact that she once saw Angela in the distance at the funfair – Roxy blackmails him. That was wholly unbelievable also. Cassandra actually thinks that Angela married him to trap him and bring him to her for a feed – which again was a stretch, how could anyone think something so convoluted?

olde worlde vampire noticeAnyway Cassandra was the vampire awakened by the youths and Angela was her sister, awakened by her. Cassandra is the really bloodthirsty one, though Angela does need blood. They were turned in the 18th century when the plague (vampire attacks) occurred in the village. Cassandra was killed and turned and then killed her sister. Both were entombed with garlic in their mouths, an act that renders a vampire immobile.

vampires can be staked...Some sun exposure makes the vampire ill, much more and the flesh burns and melts. A vampire can be killed by a stake through the heart. If a vampire kills another vampire it will (almost totally) remove their need for blood – they’ll just have a hunger pang every couple of years. That seemed a somewhat silly rule. Once killed the vampire melts, leaving only bones behind.

...and then they melt.Some of the effects in this were, for the budget, rather well done. The acting was low grade but passable. It was just the story telling that was awful. Unrealistic scenarios (a search of the cemetery cannot go ahead because some woman has organised a church Easter Egg hunt and the police will have to wait for an hour before checking the area for clues. If that wasn't bad enough, no one seems to bat an eyelid when one kid picks up a severed hand during their game) and leaps in the story (the couple meeting and then, in a blink of an eye, they are married) just made this a mess. I wouldn’t say it was unwatchable, simply because it was kind of a car wreck of a movie that made you watch with a morbid fascination as the film went rapidly down the tubes. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

LMAO. Andy where do you find some of these movies. that sounded horrible, thought still the worst vampire movie I have ever seen was "Die Hard Dracula": A flying coffin with Flight of the Valkyries playing!

Still your blog is invaluable to me, not only do you give me the heads up for great vampire films, I know which ones to avoid!

And I daresay your vampire dvd collection is starting to out-strip mine :(

Taliesin_ttlg said...

In answer tio your question Gabe.. in this case, Amazon - it came up on a search.

Die Hard Dracula is horrible, but... try Geek Maggot Bingo, I didn't review it as I could only get 10 minutes in before I switched off!