The Vampire Lovers (1970)
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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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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