Sunday, 21 April 2013

Embrace the Darkness II

Director: Robert Kubilos
Writers: April White, Edward Gorsuch
Producer: Jennifer M Byrne
Cast: Renee Rea, Sean Vossler, Catalina Larranaga, Tristen Couer d’Alene
Year of release: 2001
Country: USA
Reviewed from: UK TV broadcast

As an ‘erotic vampire thriller’, this DTV sequel scores one out of three because it is at least about vampires. The first Embrace the Darkness (which I haven’t seen) was a 1998 Playboy/Mystique production in which vampire Galen (Kevin Spirtas: The Hills Have Eyes II, Friday the 13th Part VII, Subspecies II and III) seduced and vampirised artist Jennifer Slane (Madison Clark, a dancer in From Dusk Till Dawn) before committing suicide. The only connection between the two films seems to be that ETD2 screenwriter April White was production co-ordinator on ETD1 - which is pretty tenuous!

Jennifer is now played by Renee Rea with Sean Vossler as her boyfriend Peter, who has no idea she has recently become a vampire. She dumps him and, after a sympathy shag, moves to LA where she sets up home in Galen’s apartment, an extraordinary ultra-modern place where all the walls are made of one-meter-square metal plates. Next door is a goth nightclub called Pulsate which is owned by sexy couple Jack Connor (Tristen Couer d’Alene - no, honestly - with an extraordinary sort-of-English-sort-of-Irish accent) and Lizzie (Catalina Larranaga).

The set-up seems to be that Jack and Lizzie - who are of course bloodsuckers - pick their favourites off the dancefloor, take them to a back room and have sex before biting them. They take enough blood to make the victims forget (and even come back to Pulsate again) but not enough to kill them. When not supping blood, they drink an odd-looking blue liquid which is 'pure haematin', and they live in a palatial penthouse apartment which is supposedly directly above the industrial grime of the nightclub alley entrance.

Lizzie, who says she is 2,800 years old, was evidently Galen’s lover but has now taken up with Jack, who shows Jennifer the ways of vampires and in so doing falls for her. So Lizzie takes her revenge by killing the Mayor’s wayward daughter and framing Jack, but is interrupted by vampire hunter Van (John Maryland) and Jen’s ex Peter. That’s pretty much the whole of the threadbare ‘plot’ and to tell the truth less than 12 hours later I’ve completely forgotten who survives at the end.

Of the entire cast, the only one who seems to have acted in anything that wasn’t made for the Playboy channel or similar is Larranaga, who had a small role in dodgy monster flick King Cobra. Diana Espen, who has a few lines and one ‘sex’ scene as the Mayor’s daughter, is actually prolific hardcore porn actress April Flowers whose 70+ credits include Naughty College School Girls 4, Blowjob Adventures of Dr Fellatio 20, I Love Lesbians 8, Submissive Little Sluts 6, Cum Dumpster, Fast Times at Deep Crack High, Little White Chicks and Big Black Monster Dicks 6, Oral Adventures of Craven Morehead 13, Young Dumb and Full of Cum 4 and the must-be-a-classic Dead Men Don’t Wear Rubbers. It says something for her career that her most respectable and mainstream credit is Jim Wynorski’s Cheerleader Massacre!

Producer Jennifer M Byrne (who, astoundingly, was assistant production co-ordinator on kids series Beetleborgs Metallix!) made Embrace the Darkness III the following year, which looks like it has no real connection with either of the first two films.

Embrace the Darkness II is nicely photographed (by Andrea V Rossotto: Carnosaur 3, Raptor, Vampirella - also second unit on Casper: A Spirited Beginning and the title sequence of Alien Species) but frankly dull, though it does make up for this by being mercifully short (about 85 minutes). The goth costumes are interesting and the vampire teeth/blood effects are nicely handled; and it is at least about vampires rather than just people who happen to be vampires. Is it erotic? Not really. As soon as any couple start to strip off, we cut to above-the-waist-only shots. Everyone in the film is very beautiful and looks lovely either dressed or undressed, apart from one unnamed minor character who has hideous plastic boobs and appears in a full-length frontal nude shot which was evidently not noticed by the producers or censors.

MJS rating: C-
review originally posted before November 2004

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