Clichéd and melodramatic doesn’t necessarily make for a bad experience: as Dave discovers with Glenn Andreiev’s film, it actually blankets it with a warm nostalgic glow.
With a father who designed portions of the Lunar Module for NASA, and a sister (Wendy Wild) who made waves in the underground punk scene, chances are that Glenn Andreiev was destined to follow a creative path. Andreiev’s teenage years were spent patronising New York revival houses in a quest to find cinematic rarities that were playing on the big screen, and the purchase of a Super 8mm camera further enhanced his desire to break into the business. His friend Roy Frumkes’ film Street Trash (1987) was an ideal apprenticeship, and clearly a place where the filmmaker absorbed the rudimentary principles of low budget filmmaking – because the following year Andreiev commenced production on his debut movie, VAMPIRE’S EMBRACE.
“I wrote the screenplay while I was a student at the School of Visual Arts in the mid 1980s,” recalls Andreiev. “We filmed the bulk of the film in the summer of ’88 on a twenty-seven day shooting schedule. It’s based on a Hindu legend where a man marries a very quiet girl with little appetite for conventional food. But, of course, she’s carrying a deadly secret.”
The man who will soon uncover this mystery is Bob Friedman (played with an excellent “aww shucks” naivety by Paul Borghese), whose current relationship with the disloyal Roxanne (Mimi Stuart) is on the rocks. Mercifully, true love isn’t far away for the genial gent, and a chance encounter with blonde-haired Angela (Sarah Watchman) sweeps him swiftly down the aisle. However, in his besotted state, Bob has overlooked an aspect of his bride’s personality: she’s a vampire who’s left a trail of blood-drained corpses around the local community.
Enjoyable though it is, it’s virtually impossible to pin Vampire’s Embrace to a specific genre. It flirts with horror briefly and subtly, while romance and comedy swirl through its core but never overwhelm it. If anything, it’s a remnant from another era. Hokey yet comforting, contrived but satisfying – Andreiev’s film is one that would reside quite contently beside Gene Fowler Jr’s I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) or Edward Dein’s The Leech Woman (1960). And that’s high praise, in my opinion.
“Yeah, well Dark Shadows was definitely an influence for me,” muses the director. “And I was definitely drawing from classic Hollywood during the making of the film; Cat People (1942) comes to mind”.
Filmed in Long Island under its original title ‘Angela’, in order to snag a distribution deal, jack-of-all-trades Andreiev was forced to re-christen it Vampire’s Embrace and reshoot a handful of scenes in his new home of Florida after incoming producers demanded a little more T&A. Thankfully this doesn’t diminish the ‘50s sensibility of it all, and we’re left to marvel at Bob’s blissful ignorance to the exsanguinated madness, as we get swept up in a story that shows how you can overcome any barrier in the pursuit of true love.
USA ● 1991 ● Horror ● 75mins
Paul Borghese, Sarah Watchman, Edna Boyle, Burt Wright ● Dir. Glenn Andreiev ● Wri. Glenn Andreiev