Video Visions: Embrace of the Holidays

This will be my sixth Christmas without my father. I miss the son of a bitch something fierce, but the hurt always gets a little more tender during the holidays.

What gives me comfort, especially at night after a long day, is the video shelf of movies he bought for me every Christmas. He was a huge movie buff and liked to pick out offbeat “classics” he knew I would enjoy like The Rounders or Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. He would spend the year curating special movies for the family, but I don’t think anyone enjoyed his staff picks as much as I did.

And then there were the movies he knew I’d dig for very different reasons. One of them was the Alyssa Milano vampire erotica flick, Embrace of the Vampire. Why would a guy who doesn’t really dig vampires (other than, say Near Dark or The Hunger) ever care to watch such a movie? Because dad knew all about my obsession/crush on Alyssa Milano, and like many child actors crying out to be seen as an adult, she gets very naked in this fine piece of ’90s cinema. He told me he searched far and wide to find the unrated DVD.  Remember hellions, this was the time before the Internet where everything is at your gnarled fingertips. I can only imagine how many seedy video stores he visited in New York City to unearth this treasure. Now that’s love.

So, with the Christmas lights on and the house all warm on a cold night, I decided to pop Embrace of the Vampire in to connect with the old man. Now, before I blather on, let’s go back twenty-plus years to when I first got this under the tree (well, actually at a dinner party). I had called my friends and set a date for them all to come over for an Alyssa viewing party. Every red-blooded male I knew turned green with envy. My father had given me the holy grail of DVDs. I think all of our crushes began with Who’s the Boss and Commando. What I remember from that initial viewing party was a lot of jabbering and beer swilling, with pauses every time there was a nude scene. And there are a startling number of nude scenes. I mean, like long, lingering shots of Alyssa topless, as if to say, “You want to see them? Well, here they are! Now leave me be already!” It got so extreme, we actually started to feel a little uneasy. There had been a collective gasp the first time her shirt popped open, and then a slight shifting of the eyes from the screen during her final scene where she’s tied up naked on a bed and has two men and a woman going to town on her. It was one of my first lessons in the ‘less is more” school. At the end of the night, I put the movie away and it proceeded to collect dust.

So, fast forward to today. My wife is sick and asleep on the couch, daughter number one is at work and daughter number two is watching Good Mythical Morning in her room. It’s a perfect time for me revisit one of my presents of Christmas past. Here are some things I learned, watching now as an older, more—ahem—responsible man:

  • I hadn’t realized that this is actually called The Nosferatu Diaries : Embrace of the Vampire! That’s right, it starts right off with Nosferatu writing in his diary. How can you be scared of a monster that keeps a diary? I mean, really.
  • Who knew there were breast implants back in the 1700s? When he was just a regular dude having a romp with a noble lass in the forest, our villain is turned into a creature of the night by what appear to be three nude strippers who time traveled from the Hustler Club. Not a bad way to get vampirized.
  • If you smoke clove cigarettes, you’re immediately bad and or a fledgling vampire.
  • Was anyone aware that vampires had sell by dates? Ol’ Nossie has three days to get Alyssa, I mean Charlotte, to give herself to him or else he’ll fall into an eternal slumber. What?
  • Charlotte, the focus of Nossie’s lust (and the viewer’s) is only supposed to be 17! Um, kinda gross.
  • Don’t let your kids get raised by nuns. Virgins in high school can only come to harm.

With the production value of, say, an episode of Friday the 13th The Series, I’m sure you won’t be embracing Embrace of the Vampire any time soon. When the vampire dies, he simply lies down on the floor, a bit of sunlight on his face, and crosses his arms over his chest. No smoke. No melting. Just fade to black. But, there are some cool surprises. Like the vampire being played by the bassist for Spandau Ballet (Martin Kemp). I kept waiting for him to break out and play “True.” However, all we got was an ear-grating synth score. Speaking of true, Rachel True is Charlotte’s best friend. You all remember Rachel from the excellent witch flick, The Craft. A personal fave, Jennifer Tilly shows up as a vampire seductress in a pool hall. Alas, she’s not in it for long, but her cleavage is pushed up to about her chin. Last but not least, the school bitch is none other than Jordan Ladd, daughter of Angel Cheryl and star of Cabin Fever. She was also cool as hell with me and my friend at a horror convention a couple of years back, so extra points for Jordan.

All this being said, I’m positive this is someone’s favorite movie, and I applaud them. Quick drinking game to make this even more fun, every time Charlotte bares all, you have to chug, and keep chugging until she covers up. I figure alcohol poisoning will settle in around the end of the lesbian photo shoot.

Will I ever watch this again? Hell yes. I bet if I give it a few more years, I’ll get something totally different from it. Next time, I might have a snarky pal or two so we can debate the merits (or demerits) of the cinematography. That’s one hell of an aspect ratio. And there will always be Alyssa at the height of her beauty. This viewing, I looked at her eyes more than her, well, you know, because I felt staring was improper. Christ, I’m getting weird as I get old.

Now, go drink some spiked eggnog and find your own movie to ogle under the tree.

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal—he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. You can follow his madness at

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