The Vampire Lovers
Action / Fantasy / Horror
The Vampire Lovers
Action / Fantasy / Horror
The Countess is called away to tend a sick friend and imposes on the General to accept her daughter Marcilla as a houseguest. Some of the villagers begin dying, however, and the General's daughter Laura soon gets weak and pale, but Marcilla is there to comfort her. The villagers begin whispering about vampires as Marcilla finds another family on which to impose herself. The pattern repeats as Emma gets ill, but the General cannot rest, and seeks the advice of Baron Hartog, who once dealt a decisive blow against a family of vampires. Well, almost.
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as Marcilla / Carmilla / Mircalla Karnstein
"The trouble with this part of the world is they have too many fairy tales."
Britain's Hammer Films, needing new blood for their continuing series of vampire outings, went some years back for inspiration--1871, to be exact, and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanuthic's short story "Carmilla", believed to be one of the earliest works of vampire fiction (26 years before the appearance of Bram Stoker's "Dracula"). In a small Austrian town in the 18th century, a 240-year-old female vampire (Ingrid Pitt) charms her way into the homes of a general (Peter Cushing) and later a nobleman (George Cole), seducing both their comely daughters and leaving her mark above their breasts. Her conquests are overseen by a man on horseback, who acts as her guardian. For genre buffs, a decent bloodsucker; there are a few marvelous scenes (decapitations and lesbian clinches, with much female nudity), but the handling is flat and the acting fairly colorless. Worse, the editing leaves confusion in the narrative, while Harry Robinson's obtrusive, derivative music underlines every other scene with heightened emphasis. Producers Michael Style and Harry Fine quickly followed this "Vampire" with two more: "Lust for a Vampire" in 1971 (without Cushing) and "Twins of Evil" in 1972 (with Cushing). *1/2 from ****
One of Hammer's most underrated efforts
While enjoying her birthday party, a woman finds that two new arrivals cause quite a stir among the guests, yet when a series of dead bodies are found across the countryside they realize the deadly secret they hold and race to stop their deadly plans from coming true.
This is one of the best entries from Hammer in a long time. What really works is the rather strong approach to the exploitation elements as this is one of their best attempts at melding their old- Gothic approach with kinkier elements that were becoming famous at the time. This is still very Gothically-influenced, with the eerie opening showing a lone figure gliding effortlessly through a fog- drenched cemetery in a flowing white night-gown, the instances at the Gothic castle featuring them entering and exiting their graves or the frantic chases through the woods which are in the classic mode. The later sequence showing the fate of him digging up the corpses by showing the exhumation of the bodies and the recitation of the family history in the castle while showing the final attempts at seduction back at the house finishes the Gothic atmosphere. The difference is enhanced with the addition of the lesbian hijinks, which is greatly appreciated as the style of film also allows for one of the greatest collection of Hammer women to grace the screen all getting in on it at some point. When it has a chance, it's sexuality is openly explored while never feeling like childish moments just there for titillation and it is mixed nicely with the old Gothic traditions. It's a nice combination of styles that strikes directly against the hinted-at seductiveness of the earlier ones with a vampire on-screen that actually is quite seductive and breath-taking, and her image is one of unbridled beauty and death at once. The additional violence is also nice to see and delivers more than the usual bloody fare as there are decapitations galore, some quite bloody stakings to the heart that are far gorier than what would've been shown before as well as neck bites and bloody corpses spread throughout. This is a more than fine combination of the different styles at the time and shows that they can meld together quite effectively since all these styles converge together into a cohesive manner that truly feels as though they belonged together. Add this together with a fast pace, traditional Hammer excellence in acting and dialog, and it's a minor classic in their catalog. Basically, all that's really wrong here are a couple of unexplained questions. There's a mysterious man-in-black whenever some victim is killed, and it's never told who he is. His backstory is a mystery, his powers are left up in the air as to where they came from, and the fact that all he does is appear on horseback is just another clue to his enigma. As well, she is said to be the last of the Karnstein clan, yet she comes into contact with both families by a mysterious noblewoman who then disappears from the film when she is taken away without answering where she comes from or what her contact with the vampire is. These questions are never explained in the film and are perhaps the only thing wrong with it.
Today's Rated R: Full Nudity, Graphic Violence and several mild sex scenes.
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Underrated Hammer Classic
It's an excellent retelling of the classic Carmilla with the intriguing Ingrid Pitt in the starring role. This movie is heavy on the eroticism, but for all other parts, Pitt is a minimalist actress, conveying a lot just through her eyes or a slight smile. She's great to watch. Peter Cushing isn't on screen very much. His part is a little more than a walk-on, but he adds his usual strong jawed, authoritarian presence.
The sets look as good if not better than the earlier Hammer horror films. It's got a great Gothic presence, and the script is much better than some. The ladies let their bodies be used a little too much in this, but that's admittedly a subjective opinion.
The Vampire Lovers should be ranked up there with the Hammer greats.