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Sleepy-eyed nice guy Lee Ritter and his vapid, but pretty wife, Susan accept the invitation of mysterious vixen Diane LeFanu to visit her in her secluded desert estate. Tensions arise when the couple, unaware at first that Diane is in reality a centuries-old vampire, realize that they are both objects of the pale temptress' seductions. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Worth watching for a captivating lead performance.
Nicely done vampire tale, an early effort for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, breaks from convention in some ways and gives it a refreshingly different environment in which to play out: the California desert. Super sexy Celeste Yarnall is the enigmatic Diane, a desert dweller who invites young couple Lee (Michael Blodgett, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls") and Susan (Sherry Miles, 'Hee Haw') to her isolated mansion. Co-writer / director Stephanie Rothman, the woman behind such other drive-in gems as "The Working Girls" and "Terminal Island", incorporates elements such as eroticism, voyeurism, and mysticism into this often artfully done, dreamlike horror film with palpable desert atmosphere, excellent music, and impressive sun baked cinematography by Daniel Lacambre. The dream sequences are especially enjoyable, even more so when we learn Lee and Susan are having almost the same dreams in unison. Susan often comes off as too whiny and insecure, although one couldn't blame her too much for the latter when they see just how powerfully attracted Lee is to Diane. In fact, both Lee and Susan end up rather intrigued by their cagey and alluring hostess, just not at the same time. The isolated setting ensures that escape is, while definitely not impossible, certain to be a daunting task. The sequences in the cemetery, as well as those aforementioned dream sequences, are the best in the movie. Restrained use of violence helps to make the bloodier parts that much punchier when they do occur, and in general the use of colour is quite striking. Blodgett and Miles are okay as the couple, but this is definitely Yarnall's show, and she makes the most of her role, and both she and Miles show off an appreciable amount of skin. Supporting players Gene Shane, as Carl, and Jerry Daniels, as Juan, are decent as well, with familiar character players Sandy Ward, as Amos the service station attendant, and Robert Tessier - playing a biker, naturally - making appearances as well. "The Velvet Vampire" is a good little movie for discerning vampire movie lovers to check out, as it continues to remain an overlooked item. Seven out of 10.
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