of the Vampire (1987, dir: Anne Goursaud, cast: Alyssa Milano,
Martin Kemp, Charlotte Lewis, Rachel True, Jennifer Tilly, Harrison Pruett,
Milano's mother (who is also her manager) has made a crusade of tracking
down nudie pics of her daughter on the internet. She's denounced
such websites' "exploitation" on national TV, and has even developed a
side business as a cybercop, lending her web-busting skills to other stars. Milano's mother/manager could have saved herself the trouble had she instead
steered her daughter away from doing this film.
of the Vampire is softcore horror porn, and the source for many of
those Milano skin pics. Maybe it seemed a good idea at the time. After TV's Who's the Boss was canceled (but
before Charmed returned Milano to star status) Milano was just another unemployed former
child actress. I dunno, maybe it seemed like a good career move at
stated in interviews that she wanted to demonstrate that she was not the
goody-two-shoes girl she'd played in Who's the Boss.
In other words, she wanted to "grow" as an actress. So she did Embrace
of the Vampire, in which she goes topless in several scenes, engages
in a lesbian romp with Charlotte Lewis, and participates in orgies with
characters tonguing various parts of her nude body.
of the Vampire uses Milano's virginal image from Who's
the Boss by casting her as ... a virgin. A virgin whose boobs
are straining against her too-tight blouse and who undresses before her
boyfriend (albeit asking him not to look), but still, a virgin. A
virgin who dreams of orgies and fondles lesbians and doesn't know why.
why: Milano is the reincarnation of Martin Kemp's true love. Some
300 years ago, a pack of scantily clad vampresses turned Kemp into a vampire
a blood orgy. Now that he's rediscovered Milano, he has three nights
to rekindle her love for him. If so, they will live forever as vampires. If not, he dies and loses her forever.
sudden three-night deadline? Why not.
motivations are paper thin, as is typical of porn. Milano wanders
around campus, wondering why she's having so many sexual dreams, even daydreams. Her boyfriend wanders about, wondering if she's so pure. Kemp wanders
about, seen by Milano but often not by others. Lewis wanders about
for some bisexual action. Other collegiates wander about their parties
and campus back alleys for some hetero action. Amid all this wandering
there's much carnal action, and more carnal dreaming. Occasionally,
Kemp kills someone for dissing Milano.
John Stanley (in his Creature
Features movie guide) correctly refers to it as a "meandering, almost
the best lines. Like many vampires, he agonizes and suffers a hyper-romantic vampire angst over a lost love. His appearance is a touch
effeminate (too much eyeliner), but it lends an appropriate sinister element
to his character. He is part romantic vampire, part bloodthirsty
beast. Lewis's small part is pointless to the "story." All
that's required is that she undress, and when she does, it was worth the
wait. Rachel True (The
Craft) has an even smaller role, the fate of all the characters who
keep their clothes on.
the above three are more interesting, more charismatic, than Milano or
her boyfriend. At film's end, Kemp's tearful bloodthirsty angst,
and Milano's tearful rediscovery of her love, the "tragic" star-crossed
ending, and the Christian iconography, all mirror Coppola's Bram
Stoker's Dracula (1992). One senses that director Goursaud was
to rise above her porn material.
this is no poor woman's Bram
Stoker's Dracula. Milano is no Winona Ryder and Kemp is no Gary
Oldman. For that matter, none of the other talent on this film compare
to their counterparts. And the budget just isn't there. The
strength of low-budget horror is a gritty authenticity, which this film
tries to hide rather than utilize.
was the budget? Listen, I was an extra on both Bram
Stoker's Dracula and Embrace
of the Vampire. (In both instances, I kept my clothes on.)
one day on Embrace
of the Vampire. Don't look for me, I ended up on the cutting
room floor, and extras are rarely mentioned in credits. But let me
tell you an "inside story" on the making of this film:
shooting in a nightclub on the Sunset Strip. The extras were divided
into three camps: union, nonunion, and Modesto extras. Union extras
earn the most, especially once overtime kicks in, so they were wrapped
after eight hours (they were only hired in the first place to fill a union
quota). This was during my nonunion days (I'm in SAG now), so I put in a full 14 hours, after which we were paid in cash and
wrapped. The Modesto extras were still working when we left.
you may ask, is a Modesto extra? I also wondered, and so I asked
one. I was told they were from an acting class in Modesto, California. They had been bussed in to work on the film as part of a "class assignment." In other words, they were PAYING to come to work.
not a whole lot to learn about being an extra. It's neither glamourous
nor difficult. And nonunion extra jobs for twentysomethings are VERY
EASY to come by. The lampposts in Los Angeles are covered with flyers
seeking cattle, ehr, extras. I did it for the cash, and because if
you do it often enough, you increase your chances of getting into the union
(which I did, after some 13 grueling months).
PAY for the "chance" to be an extra, not in Los Angeles. I made the
mistake of volunteering to be an extra a few times, but wised up after
a few months. My guess is the producers of Embrace
of the Vampire paid this acting teacher to bus down some cattle, and
paid far less than even nonunion extras cost. I know this teacher
was getting paid by the students, and that they were not getting paid to
be on the film.
inside story: Someone stole a silver pin belonging to a crew member. She
was near tears because it had sentimental value. Never leave anything
of value lying around on a set.
trivia: John Stanley says this film was "originally conceived as The
Nosferatu Diaries," but on the set, we were told the working
title was The Collector.
of the Vampire is a decent time-killer ... barely. If you're
looking for horror, there are hundreds of better films. Dozens of
better vampire films. Even many superior erotic vampire films -- Vampyres (British, 1975) comes to mind.
you're looking for Milano nudies, this is the film to see.
Review copyright by Thomas