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| 31 October 2015 | Reply

Shock Entertainment Hammer Horror Series
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Starring Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Arthur Cole, Pippa Steel
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8 ½ /10

Vampire Lovers Shock DVD

“An erotic nightmare of tormented lusts that throb in headless, undead bodies – Carmilla is really queen of lesbian vampires” screamed the 1970 blurb from Hammer Studios when The Vampire Lovers was initially released, and whilst that might be laying it on a bit thick, it’s not so wide of the mark – especially by 1970 standards.

Starring the stunning Polish actress Ingrid Pitt as gypsy vampire Carmilla (who also goes under the name Marcilla), and a bevy of cute (and occasionally topless) beauties (Madeline Smith, Kate O’Mara) as the objects of her lesbian vampire love, The Vampire Lovers virtually created the lesbian vampire genre.

Rising above it’s more obvious cheap attempts to use boobs to sell the film, director Roy Ward Baker successfully creates abundant atmosphere as the evil Carmilla imposes herself into the homes of well-to-do gentlemen before setting about seducing their daughters and draining them of blood, love and life.

The ultimate emotional bloodsucker, Carmilla eventually goes head-to-head with Minder’s Arfur Daly (George Cole, playing Roger), and The General, played by Peter Cushing, who all but sleepwalks through his scenes. Mind you, he practically invented the vampire killer role for Hammer, so he has the right to play it however he likes.

The Vampire Lovers features all the moody Hammer Horror Studios touches you’d expect – castles and period costumes and mist-filled moors and quaint European inns – and Pitt plays the sensual and erotic Carmilla so believably that it’s hard not to start (ahem) rooting for her instead of the rather boring good guys.

Pitt’s career should have taken off after her excellent performance in The Vampire Lovers, but she chose two more vampire movies in quick succession and was perhaps viewed unfairly after showing nudity here. She can be found in later films The Wicker Man, Smiley’s People and a couple of others, but it’s as the gorgeously evil vampires with a taste for the ladies, Carmilla, that she is most fondly remembered.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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