The Vampire Lovers (1970) Poster

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The vampire legend get the sex treatment from Hammer Studios
augiedog24 December 1999
Hammer Studios speeds up to the more sexually explicit times with Vampire Lovers, a sleek, beautifully filmed atmospheric filming of the vampire tale Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. This wonderfully done film combines the traditional vampire legend with the more permissive sexual standards of the 70's resulting in a sensual yet frightening version of this well crafted story. Ingrid Pitt is breathtakingly beautiful & sensual as the main character Carmilla. She is the human embodiment of a sexually charged feline, and Peter Cushing is appropriately sincere as her nemesis The General. This film singlehandedly established Ingrid Pitt as the reigning queen of vampirism in the 70's. Vampire Lovers is well worth the time for a viewing.
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Similar to all the other Hammer horrors, except that it has some surprising elements of eroticism.
barnabyrudge1 October 2004
Hammer studios, having more-or-less exhausted the Dracula franchise by 1970, decided to freshen up their tales of vampirism by bringing in a lesbian angle. The result was The Vampire Lovers, a decent horror flick taken from Sheridan Le Fanu's story "Carmilla". The film breaks no new ground in terms of horror, but in terms of eroticism it probably raised a few eyebrows back in 1970, with its frequent nudity and explicit lesbianism. There's more to it than just the erotic stuff though - Ingrid Pitt and Peter Cushing are in commanding form; Tudor Gates's screenplay is pretty good; and there are some gruesome moments - including several decapitations - to satisfy gore-hounds.

Elusive vampiress Carmilla (also known as Mircalla and Marcilla - and played by the luscious Ingrid Pitt) escapes death at the hands of an Austrian vampire hunter. Carmilla fakes an accident to win the sympathy of the Morton family - nearby aristocrats - and soon she has been taken into their noble household. One thing to which Carmilla is quite partial is the blood of female victims, and pretty soon she has befriended Emma Morton (Madeline Smith), whom she hopes to entice into a lesbian love affair before vampirising her. However, Emma's father Roger (George Cole) and his friend Von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) realize that something isn't quite right and eventually uncover Carmilla's sinister secret.

The film is handsomely photographed and nicely directed by Hammer veteran Roy Ward Baker. There's not much here to distinguish this one from all the other Hammer horrors, other than the stronger-than-usual sexuality. However, fans of the Hammer style films will not mind that, as the "sameness" of the studio's films quite often adds to their charm. I can't really bring myself to recommend this film whole-heartedly. Let's just say that if you like Hammer's period horror films - or if you're a fan of Pitt or Cushing - you'll find plenty to enjoy here.
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7/10
Who wouldn't love these vampires???
Coventry26 November 2004
Where would the horror field be if it weren't for the legendary Hammer Studios? With their constant creativity and new variations on the general topic of vampirism they delivered some of the most important genre-films ever. Roy Ward Baker's film the Vampire Lovers is one of the most essential movies Hammer ever released and it meant a landmark turning point for the sub-genre of bloodsuckers. Due to THIS film, vampirism afterwards always got immediately associated with eroticism and lust. The Vampire Lovers influenced notorious directors like Jess Franco (Vampyros Lesbos, Les Avaleuses) or Jean Rollin (Lips of Blood, The Living Dead Girl) who practically made an entire career out of lesbian vampire movies. But this is the real thing! A stunning screenplay, based on a classic tale by Sheridan Le Fanu, solid acting performances and an atmospheric – almost dreamlike – photography. Ingrid Pitt plays the best, most memorable role of her career as the gypsy vampire Carmilla. Her sensual character seduces attractive young girls at the homes of prominent men where she's at guest and turns them into weak, lifeless slaves. The worried men have to uncover the origin of this vampire wench in order to destroy her forever.

'The Vampire Lovers' offers a nearly perfect combination of atmosphere, beauty and tension. Mostly thanks to the female cast led by Ingrid Pitt, this is the most bewitching horror tale Hammer ever told. The ravishing naked bodies of Pitt, Madeline Smith (Theathre of Blood) and Kate O'Mara (Horror of Frankenstein) will give this film a spot in your memory forevermore. And that's not a sexist remark; it just needs to be said. Other than the charismatic female appearances, this production also depends a lot on the eerie set pieces and the nightmarishly dark images of graveyards, ruins and castles. Overall, a splendid horror film and a must see for all fans of Hammer, vampirism or gorgeous beauties.
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10/10
The lesbian vampire movie as moonlit poetry
Forester-226 September 1999
An ocean of mist hangs above a grave. A figure enveloped in a white shroud swirls through that mist with balletic grace, then rakes a hand across a bloody mouth.* A man at his niece's deathbed calls for her missing friend. The call echoes through the empty chambers of the house and down the terrace outside, where the wind blows fallen leaves through the autumn night. The calls merge with older echoes in a cemetery beneath a ruined castle. A woman walks in those mists, clad in her nightgown. The mists dissolve her from sight. * "I want you - to love me - for all your life," pleads a beautiful vampire turning from the view through a moonlit window to clasp the girl she loves with desperate intimacy. * That same vampire woman stands on a terrace in the sunset, tears glinting in her eyes while she listens to the ancestral echoes that condemn her to her fate. *

Yes, this is pure Hammer Horror: a work conceived as sheerest exploitation which somehow transforms itself - in its greatest moments anyway - to an authentic romantic poetry. Yes, of course, a lesbian vampire movie made by men may seem the height of sexism, and at a conceptual level the movie may be open to those charges. But a female gothic artist was involved here: Ingrid Pitt, whose Carmilla is such a vivid presence as to render herself the character we root for and her patriachal enemies as the true pale-faced monsters (Has Peter Cushing ever come across as less loveable?). Other screen vampiresses are bimbos or boogeywomen or upmarket fashion plates by comparison: Pitt is tigerish, witty, tender, passionate, vulnerable, savage and tragic: Perhaps the only actor, male or female, who has brought to full life all the complexities of the vampire psyche. She's great and the other film-makers, at their best, rise to the challenge she sets. The movie is hardly unflawed but when its accidental poetry gels, few movies in its genre can surpass it.
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A Hammer Classic
BaronBl00d7 August 2000
This film gets a lot of ribbing for the casual nudity that bedecks it. Not fair. This film is in many ways another Hammer classic with its good solid acting, its lush photography and costuming, and general sense of horror. It is based in part on Sheridan Le Fanu's classic female vampire story Carmilla about a young girl that befriends other young girls only to vampirize them. Ingrid Pitt plays the toothy(and toothsome) vampire wench in all her busty splendour. She is magnificent on the screen and oozes sex appeal. Yes, she goes topless as do her female co-stars....but although one sees that these scenes feel forced...they do not detract from the film(and for me they enhanced it greatly). The rest of the cast is good with Peter Cushing as a general in a small role and Harvey Hall as a servant standing out. The best part of the film for me is the eerie graveyard of the Castle Karnstein that we are introduced to in the prologue and again visited to in the epilogue. It really sets the mood of the story and was a pretty inspired rendition of the Carmilla tale.
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6/10
The last good Hammer movie?
funkyfry27 February 2004
Certainly a movie one would use the word "good" for rather than "great", but this movie does contain flashes of the unique attributes that made Hammer such a winner in the first place but which had been largely forgotten by the company in its rush to replicate the success of "One Million Years B.C." with cheap imitations. Ingrid Pitt is probably the film's greatest asset, along with the very well done sets and art design in general.

Pitt plays a vampire lesbian who uses various forms of deception to seduce the daughters of England's upper crust. She comes off great in the role of seductress and is just barely convincing enough as the "innocent" her character pretends to be.

Cushing makes only 2 brief appearances, not making much of an impression (but he's given very little to work with here in a role that just about anyone could have played).

Memorable, not as good as Hammer's best vampire film "Dracula" (aka "Horror of Dracula", US) but definately one of its better, if not its best, films of the 70s.
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7/10
Bold and Sexy Vampire Movie
claudio_carvalho26 August 2014
In Styria, Austria, General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) gives a party and a countess explains to him that she needs to travel immediately to visit a relative that is ill. She leaves her daughter Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt) under the care of the General. Marcilla befriends his daughter Laura (Pippa Steele) and then the teenager has nightmares, where she is attacked by a dreadful creature. The doctor finds that Laura is anemic and soon she dies.

Marcilla leaves the house and the countess fakes a carriage accident to leave Marcilla, now known as Carmilla, with the wealthy Mr. Roger Morton (George Cole). Camilla befriends Emma Morton (Madeline Smith) and soon she starts having nightmares. Her governess Madame Perrodot (Kate O'Mara) is seduced by Carmilla and helps her to be close to Emma. Mr. Morton travels and the butler Renton (Harvey Hall) and the doctor suspect that Madame Perrodot might be a vampire but they do not suspect of Carmilla. Will Emma be saved from Carmilla?

"The Vampire Lovers" is a bold and sexy vampire movie by Hammer with the right dose of eroticism. In 1970, lesbianism was not a usual theme and a lesbian vampire was a novelty. This is the first time that I see a vampire associated to a shroud. The plot explores the sensuality of Ingrid Pitt and her female victims but is never sexploitation. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Carmilla, A Vampira de Karnstein" ("Carmilla, The Karnstein's Vampire")

Note: Last time I had seen this movie was on 07 December 2002.
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a sapphic, graphic masterpiece
akersbp2 June 2002
I tend to like the classic horror films of Hammer, Universal, and American International, and "Vampire Lovers" is an esteemed favorite. There are many elements skillfully blended in this fine production, but the central appeal is Ingrid Pitt who breathes passionate, undead life into her role. Her impressive acting ability is matched by her smoldering screen presence and beauty. She is perfectly cast in this role. Wow, did the people who made this movie ever know what they were doing. The costumery, the lighting and photography, the staging, the acting and direction, all combine seamlessly for a stunning spectacle to be savored over and over again. This is the movie that single-handedly minted the "lesbian vampire" as a major cinematic motif, and set the standard for comparison that later entries in this genre would forever be judged by. I doubt we would ever have had such films as "Vampyres," "Vampyros Lesbos" or various Jean Rollin movies (not to mention Hammer's other Karnstein trilogy entries) without this film. And this movie could never have been as good without Ingrid Pitt. Her command of acting nuance is really something. Check out her facial expression when she's in the broken-down coach and Laura, all excited, tells her: "You're to stay with us!"
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8/10
A Warm Embrace for The Vampire Lovers
mikhail08014 July 2010
I've finally caught up with this erotic supernatural thriller, which is bundled with "Countess Dracula" on an Ingrid Pitt Double Feature DVD. Having heard about this film since I was a boy reading "Castle of Frankenstein" magazine, I was well aware that more adult themes are included in this film than in the average Hammer vampire movie. And it still does have the power to shock today's audiences. I still wonder whether the "lovers" of the title are vampires or the mortals who love them? The question remains unanswered in my mind.

It's not news that "The Vampire Lovers" was based on Sheridan Le Fanu's novella, Carmella, and expounded on his original undercurrents of lesbianism and the eroticism often connected to vampire folklore. So here we have ancient vampire Ingrid Pitt traversing the countryside with her mother/aunt Dawn Addams, who looks near her contemporary in age. Apparently plenty of English Aristocracy easily throw open their doors for the likes of lovely, if somewhat distant, mystery ladies who make themselves right at home. Then beautiful vampire Pitt ingratiates herself with any virginal young lady in the household in order to slowly drain the blood from her body by biting her on the breast.

This is all pretty standard Hammer fare, but now served with a steaming hot portion of female skin and eroticism. Lovely and iconic cult figure Ingrid Pitt dominates the film, and she's fascinating to watch. All the women concerned are lovely to look at, and the proceedings move along at a nice pace, aided by colorful and atmospheric sets and locales.
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Didn't do too much for me
Wizard-819 February 2015
I see here that the majority of user comments for this movie are pretty positive, so it does seem that most people who will watch this movie will like it. But to be honest, I was kind of disappointed by "The Vampire Lovers". Let me make it clear that I didn't find it aggressively awful or even merely bad - I just thought that it was kind of mediocre. The main problem I had with it was the one-two punch of it being slow-moving and not much plot in the end. I grew kind of restless despite the occasional erotic or horrific elements inserted in to liven things up. Also disappointing was that Peter Cushing didn't have as much to do here as in other Hammer movies he worked on - he's offscreen for long periods of time. To its credit, the movie does have good production values, and does have some atmosphere (erotic or horrific) throughout. But in the end, as I said, the movie didn't do that much for me. I know I'm in the minority, so you still might want to give this movie a try, especially if you are a fan of Hammer films.
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7/10
One of the Best Vampire films--Excellent Telling of the Carmilla Tale
stuthehistoryguy10 September 1999
_The Vampire Lovers_ is one of the most faithful adaptations of a story I have ever seen in a major production. Based on J. Sheridan LeFanu's _Carmilla_, Baker's film captures the essence of evil wrapped in feminine beauty. Ingrid Pitt plays Mircalla with great restraint; her character comes off cold and deceptive, but still driven by a need for love. The action is well timed and choreographed, and the nudity, though a bit gratutious at times, is photographed sensitively and with great appreciation for the actresses.

Yes, this is something of a guilty pleasure because of the leads' beauty, but if one looks beyond the titilation, the story, photography, and performances in _The Vampire Lovers_ hold up very well indeed! 8 out of 10.
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"Even the dead can love."
Backlash00716 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
~Spoiler~

Roy Ward Baker's The Vampire Lovers is one of Hammer's more erotic vampire tales. The lovely Ingrid Pitt stars in this adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla and she is the main reason to see the film. I'll admit, I purchased this DVD simply because I am a huge Captain Kronos fan and in that film the head vampire is a Karnstein. So I thought I should see the film in which that is a reference to. So that led me to The Vampire Lovers (the first entry in the Karnstein trilogy). In the film, Ingrid Pitt has a number of slumber parties where she seduces young girls and turns them into creatures of the night. Some characters figure out what is going on and set out to slay the vamps, as is usually the case with Hammer vampire films. Too many loose ends and unnecessary aspects keep me from quite enjoying this one. My biggest complaint is that the mysterious man in black (played by John Forbes-Robinson, Hammer's back-up Dracula) is never explained. Maybe these loose ends are tied up in the other two films or maybe they aren't. I probably won't see the sequels because I'm less than satisfied with The Vampire Lovers. Also, Peter Cushing's character seems pretty pointless, even though he's always nice to see. Cushing's seems to be thrown in at the last second because we already have the knowledgeable vampire hunter character who informs everyone on the goings-on. I guess they thought Cushings would lead to a bigger audience, which is probably true. Sadly, I also found the pace to be dreadfully slow, but then how many formulaic vampire movies have I seen?
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More British Vampire Erotica
damonfoster27 January 2003
Seeing the upper nudity in a Hammer film came as a small surprise, since all the other Hammer movies I had seen are the edited versions on American TV. Mind you, I'm NOT complaining about getting to view the breasts of Ingrid Pitt.

VAMPIRE LOVERS is pretty typical of Hammer's other erotic horror movies, and as such, is pretty good. It's not real scary despite a few sudden scenes, but generates enough atmosphere to be worthwhile. It was also strange to finally see Peter Cushing playing a vampire killer who's NOT Dr. Van Helsing.

As I understand it, there are other films in this series (all of which were based on the historically evil woman Carmella, rumored to have bathed in the blood of her victims because she thought it would keep her young), which might explain why at least one character (a villainous male vampire) is never destroyed. In fact, he's never really explained.

My only complaint is some of the young actresses, though pretty and willing to show some skin, all look alike. There faces are similar, as are their bodies. Minor complaint though.
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10/10
Poetry instead of exploitation
rose-29422 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike amateurish trash from Rollin and Franco, or visually lush but boring Daughters of darkness, Hammer's The Vampire lovers is elegant and exciting "sexy" vampire movie. Set in the early 19th century Styria, it has the gorgeous backdrop of castles, graveyards and period sets and the affairs of passionate vampire Carmilla and her virginal "victims" are dripping with style, class and chemistry. Vamping both male and female but falling only women, Carmilla eventually becomes the guest in the home of heroine Emma (Laura in Sheridan LeFanu's 1872 novella) and guess who starts to suffer from anemia? Horror? Well, no, not really, this Hammer classic is more like a Gothic vampire romance, and although Franco and Rollin may be artists, so is Ed Wood...
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Erotic, with a fine Ingrid Pitt performance
dj_bassett8 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Ms. Pitt was that great rarity, a sex bomb that could actually act, and she's wonderful in this lush adaptation of "Carmilla". She's very sexy -- another reviewer here used the word "feline" and that's an apt comparison -- and director Baker uses her nudity wisely, just giving us a glimpse here and there, now and then, and always photographing her in such a way that emphasizes her sleekness. (The seduction sequence with the governess is I think the highlight, although we see more of Ms. Pitt elsewhere.) Pitt, though, is also quite credible as the vampire, by turns seductive, frightening, frightened and yearning. This is one of the better examples I've seen of putting the human face on the monster: Pitt herself, with her exotic accent and air of mystery, was kind of different from the start, and of course that helps. But the most credit goes to Pitt's acting, and her ability to show the shadow of the girl within the monster. Often Pitt gives the impression that she doesn't really like what she's doing, which is tough to do in these kind of roles.

As you can see, I think Pitt's the main reason to see this. Outside of her, this is a fairly traditional Hammer vampire movie, with Pitt worming her way into households and then vampirizing the nubile young ladies (yes, there's one hell of a lesbian subtext here) and Peter Cushing as the vampire-hunter out to get her. Not particularly scary, although everyone gives it the old college try.

A minor classic of it's type, which helped fix in the public's mind the relationship between vampires and eroticism.
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10/10
My favorite Carmilla film
minamurray13 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
... and great example how fun their much-criticized 1970's output really is. Untypically classy for 1970's sexy-lesbian-vampiress-story, probably because it is made with Hammer's old-fashioned British restraint, this little film actually works brilliantly. It has lovely 19th century sets and scenery, completed with wonderful misty graveyards and Gothic castles, beautiful color photography and lot of lush, romantic atmosphere. Like Hammer's Hands of the ripper, this film has a pretty, somewhat tragic female monster in 19th century home - storyline I feel is very fascinating. Sheridan LeFanu's plot is followed pretty faithfully, but for example film's young and beautiful governess, hopelessly smitten with Carmilla who prefers heroine Emma, was fat middle-aged lady in the original story, without any sexual/romantic interest to vampire lady.
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3/10
Has its moments...but not enough
preppy-310 February 2006
A (very) loose adaptation of the novella "Camilla". Starts right off with a bang when a female vampire being beheaded but that's about it for graphic violence. It's basically about a beautiful lesbian vampire (Ingrid Pitt) who is going after every young attractive woman around. That's about it for the plot.

I have (vague) recollections about seeing this at a drive-in when I was 8! I do remember Pitt attacking some men and a pretty mild (for now) lesbian sequence which had quite a reaction from my parents--my mother was disgusted, my father was enjoying it and I couldn't figure out WHAT was going on! I figured they were just good friends. I remember liking it...but I was very young.

Seeing it now it does have its moments. There are some very erotic, beautifully filmed sequences. There's next to no violence but there's plenty of female nudity. As a gay man I found this pretty dull. It contains the same overly familiar Hammer sets found in all their other films and has a pretty vague plot (who IS that guy in black on the horse?). Also a beheading at the end is SO obviously fake. On the positive side Peter Cushing is on hand to give another good performance and Pitt is very beautiful and is a pretty good actress--some of her expressions are priceless! And Jon Finch is handsome and hunky as the main hero.

But, all in all, I was bored. The lesbian bits are tame by todays standards (I heard they were considered pretty extreme for 1970) and--unless you're interested in lesbian vampires or pointless female nudity--this is pretty dull stuff. I give it a 3 for some of the acting and good direction--but I can't recommend this.
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9/10
What A Real Vampire Movie Should Be
Bill35719 April 2009
The Vampire Lovers is a classic tale of good versus evil, the way vampire films should be, with the vampire as a soulless and selfish creature with no humanity left in it. The modern idea of the suffering humanistic vampire decrying the pain of immortality makes me want to throw up. Another ridiculously overused modern device is vampirism as an infectious disease.

People always want to over analyze things, to come up with a scientific explanation for everything. There's no explanation for evil. The real vampire is a symbolic creature. It's not sensitivity to UV radiation that makes them burn up in sunlight, it's that light from the sun comes from a higher power. The wooden stake is used not so much to "kill" the vampire as it is to bind it to the earth. The stake is supposed to pierce the heart and come out the other side into the dirt so the body, heart, and earth are one.

In my opinion, The Vampire Lovers is the best of the Hammer vampire movies, barely squeaking past The Horror Of Dracula. It and the other Non-Dracula vampire pictures, Kiss of the Vampires, Captain Kronos etc. are all very underrated and on a whole, better than the Dracula series.

One thing I really enjoyed was the subplot where the butler, who figures there's a vampire in the house, engages in a battle of wills with the vamped out chief of staff.

I think Ingrid Pitt is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen and I've fallen about as much in love as a (mostly) sane man can with a moving picture!

Also, I agree with Ms. Pitt's assertion (on the DVD commentary track) that the original story isn't about female homoeroticism. Women in those days were always more affectionate than they are now as were men to a lesser degree. I think the "lesbian subtext" is more about wishful thinking on the part of horny men. However, the movie is more blatant in it's suggestiveness.
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10/10
Very sensual and atmospheric horror film.
HumanoidOfFlesh13 January 2005
"The Vampire Lovers" is easily among the greatest Hammer's productions ever made.This movie as well as "Lust for a Vampire" is based on J.Sheridan Le Fanu's often filmed novella "Carmilla".The last film of the trilogy "Twins of Evil" is less closely related to these two wonderful horror movies.Polish-born Ingrid Pitt plays Mircalla Karnstein alias Carmilla who,with the connivance of her mother,arranges to stay in a series of homes of young women with single fathers:first General Spielsdorf,and then Mr.Morton.The daughters,Laura Spielsdorf and Emma Morton each slowly becomes deathly pale and subject to bizarre nightmares as the vampiric Mircalla seduces them."The Vampire Lovers" offers a good deal of sensuality and lesbianism,so fans of classy exploitation films will be pleased.The few gore effects are effective and the visual look of the film is absolutely stunning.The location sets are shrouded in fog and the interiors of the various castles are genuinely impressive.So if you are a fan of erotic horror give this gem a look.Recommended.
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5/10
Has its moments, and you can see why it was important
lemon_magic7 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Vampire Lovers" obviously broke some new territory in terms of eroticism and lesbian story elements, and I would say that it was very well acted (especially by Pittman), quite steamy in spots...and that the director and screenwriter deserved a lot of credit for trying something new.

But, and this is a big but, after the gruesome and compelling opening scene, the movie slowed to a crawl.The screenplay just sat there, for long, long minutes, building atmosphere but not having anything overly interesting actually happen.

And then there was a flurry of activity, and then...the same situation and setup repeated, almost note for note, for ANOTHER 20 minutes. Only this time Peter Cushing was out of the story. Even going through the motions in a character he's played many times, Cushing managed to light up a scene whenever he was on camera. With him gone the remaining cast, although filled with hardworking journeyman actors, simply couldn't keep things focused.

Well, there was the whole lesbian vampire/"viper in the bosom" thing unfolding, but I'm way past the point in my life where boobs get me excited.

And then in the last 15 minutes, every thing happened at once; Cushing and the rest of the "men heroes" charged to the rescue, and all was set right with the world. The payoff was...ALMOST...worth the wait.

It sounds as if I thought the movie sucked. I don't. There are lots of things right with the movie. Pittman's character seemed to be capable of some complex, bittersweet emotions and wasn't just a simple predator, and I liked that. A vampire movie that didn't overuse the Dracula character was a nice change of pace - it's as if this was actually a Dracula "side story" that fleshed out part of the Hammer canon, and I liked that, too.

But for me, the movie dragged in too many spots for too long to really be considered one the first rank of Hammer films. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.
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6/10
Carmilla!
parry_na2 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
By 1970, the formula that had been successful for Hammer was sliding out of fashion. Audiences were tiring of the European 'bloodshed and bosoms' stories the company were releasing with regularity. Their answer was to up the quotient of both, and the cleavage on display here is provided by no less than three main players – Kate O'Mara, Pippa Steele, Maddie Smith and especially Ingrid Pitt.

Based on Sheridan de Fanu's masterful 'Carmilla' tale, this forms the first in a trilogy of films to feature the titular character, although 'The Vampire Lovers' is the only one that really uses the original novel as its inspiration. The sequels, 'Lust for a Vampire' and 'Twins of Evil' feature Carmilla/Marcilla/Mircalla as an increasingly peripheral figure played, bizarrely, by three different actresses. Perhaps the writers Harry Fine/Tudor Gates/Michael Style were trying to suggest that not only does she transcend age and time, but occupies multiple personalities too.

After opening with a voice-over (strongly reminiscent of the opening of Hammer's ground-breaking 'Dracula (1957)') and a convincing model effect of the castle, the low-budget is betrayed in a very studio-bound yet sinister graveyard as Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer) witnesses the arrival of a wraith-like vampire (Kirstin Lindholm) before beheading her. The story proper begins with the introduction of Marcilla to a rather threadbare party, where she is placed in the care of General von Speilsdorf (Peter Cushing) and his niece Laura (Pippa Steele). It is then that strange dreams and occurrences begin in earnest. Following Laura's death, Speilsdorf is written out of the narrative for much of the film, leaving George Cole's Roger Morton and his niece Emma (Maddie Smith – and her Governess Kate O'Mara) as Carmilla's later protagonists/victims for a brief spell before he leaves 'for Vienna'. Jon Finch plays young Carl, who completes the quartet of angry men with a grievance against the mysterious vampire woman.

'The Vampire Lovers' is an enjoyable, unpolished production. Occasional scenes are dogged by signs of the raggedness that was creeping into Hammer's dense production schedule at this time. The inn where the butler Renton (splendidly played by Harvey Hall) visits is filmed in close-up to avoid revealing a lack of customers; there are recurrent location scenes featuring a tennis court complete with chain-mail fencing; also, the camera lingers on scenes of Carmilla casting reflections – although she happily exists in daylight, suggesting she is perhaps more than a vampire.

Perhaps the best scene is a brief one. Witnessing the funeral of one of her victims (although no-one has yet made the connection between the mysterious girl and the succession of blood-drained victims) in the woods, Carmilla is terrified by the religious symbolism, and the ceremony overwhelms her.

Whilst it is great when the four protagonists finally gang up to rid 19th century Styria of Carmilla, to have them fractured throughout the film means that each one is severely underwritten. They are little more than cogs that come together, rather than characters with personalities. The greatest written part goes, of course, to Ingrid Pitt's titular character. The actress rises brilliantly to the challenge of playing a seductive, occasionally vulnerable, centuries old vampire. Her apparent infatuation with Emma is brought to life more by the actresses than anything in the script, and that is what stalls her plans to seduce everyone in sight. Never a step out of place, Pitt's charm and presence underlines how incredible it is that she never played the part in the following two films in this trilogy.
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5/10
Carmilla Karnstein
AaronCapenBanner24 November 2013
Roy Ward Baker directed this film that stars Ingrid Pitt as beautiful(but evil) Carmilla Karnstein, a female vampire who ingratiates herself into the household of General Von Spielsdorf(played by Peter Cushing) whose daughter Laura becomes a target of Carmilla. After finishing with her, Carmilla moves on, but a distraught and enraged General Spielsdorf vows revenge against her, and enlists others to learn her secret history, then track her down to destroy her and end that evil. Good cast of course, but this Hammer studios film is mostly lurid exploitation, though there is a memorable nude bathing scene for Miss Pitt, the film's highlight.(Not much of a coherent plot however...)
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8/10
Good Erotic Chiller
Space_Mafune31 August 2002
Despite others making comments that this film was slow, I didn't find that to be the case at all myself. To me, it's very well-paced and moves very quickly. This film, meant to be an erotic and disturbing chiller truly succeeds in being both although at times the dialogue and events do seem a little overdone and even silly. Still things are enhanced with very beautiful young women. Ingrid Pitt, arguably one of the most attractive women in the history of the planet, also deserves a lot of credit for her talent as an actress and she has an opportunity to showcase it here. This film is always enjoyable to watch.
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8/10
A nice infusion of new blood into the genre...
MartinHafer28 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Warning to parents--This is NOT typical of all the Hammer films in that this one has copious amounts of nudity. Just be forewarned before showing it to the kids or your Sunday school class!

By 1970, Hammer Films had made something like 1647 vampire movies--and most of them about Dracula. As a result, the films all tend to blend together and the viewer has a very strong case of "been there, done that" when they watch. Because of this sameness, the films lose something after you've seen a few. Amazingly, I have seen them all--as I apparently have a high tolerance for repetition. However, when I began watching THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, I was very happy to see that not only was Dracula NOT present, but that the lore of the vampires had changed a bit--and for the better.

The way these vampires take their victims is very odd in this film. A rich society lady excuses herself at parties and tells the host that she must go, as there's been a death in the family. She also asks if the host can look after her niece (or daughter) in her absence. The house guest, it turns out, is a lesbian vampire and slowly she seduces the lovely daughter of the host and eventually kills her. This pattern apparently has been repeated again and again and it sure is interesting to see them using this tag-team approach!

Now that I mentioned lesbians, let's diverge a bit. A year after THE VAMPIRE LOVERS came out, the famous film VAMPIROS LESBOS came out with a similar lesbian theme. However, VAMPIROS LESBOS was very artsy-fartsy and was often too mannered and fanciful. I thought it was very silly, actually, and chock full of nudity from start to finish. With THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, there is also quite a bit of nudity but the film doesn't permeate with it as much and the story is excellent with or without the naughty bits flying about here and there. All VAMPIROS LESBOS really had going for it was nudity--otherwise, I can't recommend it.

By the way, there are a few odd things about this vampire tale. First, chopping off the heads with swords was employed here very nicely on two occasions--making the vampires 100% dead--not the 99.44% dead that Christopher Lee (Dracula in the Hammer films) often was. You knew he would somehow come back--vampires in this film stayed dead (I don't mean undead). Also, apparently these vampire lesbians are a bit like the TWILIGHT vampires, as they CAN go out during daylight (in non-direct sun) and even eat. However, unlike TWILIGHT I saw no evidence of sparkling!

The story was exciting and different. The only negative is the guy on the horseback. He appears again and again and he appears to be a vampire. However, he NEVER is a part of the story and there is no explanation as to who he is. It's like he's a dangling plot element left over after a character was cut from the film. Who is this guy? Is he just some perv hoping to see some of that hot lesbian nudity? Regardless, he makes no sense at all in the film but it also doesn't seriously harm the picture.
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4/10
not the best of hammer
kakoilija12 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
lots of good looking lesbian vampires, what could go wrong? i don't know... i mean this one doesn't have the magic of other hammer films. it seems to lack something... the lesbianism is there for male audiences, and i think they were a little out of ideas...

i don't wonder why hammer films eventually quit. the later movies have this kinda average quality.

yet it is very watchable and entertaining. if it came from TV, you can easily spend your time watching this. don't buy it full price on DVD though... unless you get it from the discount section for 20% of original price.

nice tits, and cute girls... + vampires. you could rent this with your girlfriend saying you thought it was a romantic movie, she won't mind... she'll pretend to be offended, but you'll get great sex in return =D=D=D=D
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