Hammer's adaptation of Sheridan Le' Fanu's THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) had been successful enough to warrant a sequel, therefore Tudor Gates who had scripted the former was duly approached to script the next one. The result was a rather unsavoury brew of vampirism and lesbianism and veteran Hammer producer-writer Jimmy Sangster who was responsible for such Hammer classics as THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Dracula and THE NANNY was brought in to direct. It was his second outing behind the camera having made his directorial debut in 1970 with Hammer's spoof THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN. This went out on a double bill with Roy Ward Baker's SCARS OF Dracula and only did average business. Whereas Sangster had enjoyed the experience of directing the Frankenstein spoof, he apparently hated LUST FOR A VAMPIRE along with his star Ralph Bates. He and Bates were apparently horrified at the preview screening when they discovered a cheesy pop song had been inserted called STRANGE LOVE sung by an unknown Tracy over the love scene between Johnson and Stensgaard.
Viewed today, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE certainly has it's flaws, for a start there is the inept casting of BBC Radio One disc-jockey Mike Raven as Count Karnstein. His voice was dubbed to make him sound like Christopher Lee and in the reincarnation sequence, a close up of Lee's bloodshot eyes from Dracula HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE was used instead of making Raven wear the red tinted contacts and doing a close up on him. Raven also appeared in Amicus's Jekyll and Hyde film I MONSTER (1971). The film also lacks a convincing hero, Johnson's Richard Le' Strange is little more than a boozy womaniser who is content to chase after a schoolgirl and the basic premise is somewhat crude. The film also shares sets with SCARS OF Dracula, Hammer fanatics will no doubt recognise the somewhat impoverished looking castle set from that picture. Yet there is still some fun to be had here, Bates gives a strong performance as the schoolmaster who lusts after Carmilla and wishes to sell his soul to the devil and Sangster stages the shock scenes with some style, especially the scene in the ruined castle where Carmilla is brought back to life.
LUST FOR A VAMPIRE wasn't all that successful, but Hammer managed to squeeze in a third outing for the Karnstein's, TWINS OF EVIL, which is in it's own right a better film by far.
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