To Sleep With A Vampire

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From executive producer Roger Corman came the straight to video erotic horror film To Sleep With A Vampire (1993). The film follows a depressed stripper whose had a life of hard knocks, Nina (Charlie Spradling), who is abducted by an eccentric vampire named Jacob (Scott Valentine) to be his next meal. But before Jacob kills Nina, he wants to know about life in the sun and give her life, and the life of her estranged son, some closure. As they play this sinister game, Jacob begins to fall for Nina.

To Sleep With A Vampire is parts Wild Orchid (1989), part chamber drama, a little post-modern gothic. Written by Patricia Harrington (known for her Christmas specials), To Sleep With A Vampire functions as a moody and rather blunt metaphor for casual sexual encounters. To her credit, Harrington’s take on vampirism is wholly unique. She retains the more mystical qualities of Bram Stoker’s vampire and combines them with the man-child archetype. The idea here being that Jacob has lived in isolation and found items like a Barbie doll and a wind-up car to be enthralling curiosities from a mortal existence.

Scott Valentine plays Jacob with an emphasis on these more peculiar characteristics. Jacob is rendered by Valentine as a wide-eyed little boy full of curiosity and wonder about all things Nina has known and he cannot. The result is that Jacob becomes a surprisingly sympathetic character of halves: he is either a literal creepy crawler or childlike. When juxtaposed with the world weary Nina, Jacob becomes an almost charming character. But it is Nina who is ultimately the character tasked with carrying the film as the audience surrogate and Spradling is up for the task.

Where the film struggles is in the uneven direction of Adam Friedman who clearly sees To Sleep With A Vampire in the same vein as Tony Scott’s masterpiece The Hunger (1983). Friedman’s eye as a director is nowhere near Scotts so the best that could be said about To Sleep With A Vampire is that, at its most stylized, it looks like a watered down version of Stephen Sayadian’s signature style.

To Sleep With A Vampire starts and stops abruptly as Friedman struggles to keep a consistent dramatic tone as actors serve up cornball dialogue with utter sincerity or stumble on some emotional truth that is inadvertently subverted by an ill placed cutaway. Cumulatively, To Sleep With A Vampire is a total misfire with interesting ideas peppered throughout. Despite this, it would make an interesting double bill with Michael Almereyda’s underrated Nadja (1994).