Each week this month, I'll examine an unusual dual theme in film: romance and horror. Do the two ever compliment each other? Although it seems to be an unlikely combination, in many films, the contrast is just the right recipe for audiences. As a relief from unrelenting suspense, or as an exciting thrill to a predictable love story, romance and horror are sometimes just the right element to keep the movie exciting from beginning to end. Up for review this week are two monster movies.
Embrace of the Vampire
Starring: Alyssa Milano and Martin Kemp
Anne Goursaud ("Poison Ivy II") directed this gothic version of the classic vampire love story. In this version of the classic horror tale, the Vampire was once a young man deeply in love with a beautiful princess. When he lost his true love, he became determined to find her again, no matter how many years it took. Centuries later he found her soul reincarnated into that of an innocent virgin, Charlotte (Alyssa Milano). In order to make his seduction of her easier, the vampire begins to send Charlotte highly erotic dreams which both frighten and entice her. In reality, Charlotte is torn between the innocent relationship she enjoys with her boyfriend, and the temptation to give in to the passionate dreams that she eventually realizes are being sent to her by an unnatural force. Rachel True ("Half Baked," "Half and Half" TV series), and Jordan Ladd ("Cabin Fever," "Club Dread") also star.
Campy and oversexed, this movie is too much fun. Although some scenes are pure cheese, the sultry love scenes more than make up for it. Watch for Alyssa Milano's transformation from virginal college student to seductive enchantress.
Thriller Factor: 5
Romance Factor: 9
Starring: Sting and Jennifer Beals
Another classic horror story, that of the monster Frankenstein, is give a unique treatment in this adaptation of the Mary Shelly book. Dr. Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist, creates two beings, Eva and Viktor, a man and his bride. Eva and Viktor bring meaning to the phrase "beauty and the beast." While Eva is beautiful and demure, Viktor is hulking and hideous. Both of them are truly strange, since they are only laboratory creations made from spare body parts. After being brought to life, there is a terrible storm and subsequent fire, and Viktor escapes from Dr. Frankenstein's lab. Eva is knocked unconscious and rescued by her creator, who tells her and anyone who asks that she is simply a woman he helped during the storm. Since Viktor is gone, Dr. Frankenstein begins to train Eva how to behave in proper society with the intention of making her his wife. Meanwhile, Viktor is trying to make his way in the world. He teams up with a friendly midget and the two of them join the local carnival, where they are exploited as freaks of nature. When Viktor decides to return to Dr. Frankenstein's home to rescue his "bride," he must confront the man who created him, and win the trust of the woman created to be his wife.
I really enjoyed this version of Frankenstein. It was sad and interesting, and presented a truly unique way of looking at an old story. I thought that the actors did a fine job, although Jennifer Beals appeared a bit stiff in some scenes, perhaps that was her intention since she was portraying a character who had to learn how to be human.
Thriller Factor: 7
Romance Factor: 8