The Vampire Lovers
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A female vampire with lesbian tendencies ravages the young girls and townsfolk of a peaceful hamlet in eighteenth century Europe who, years earlier, killed off her fellow vampires. A rousing hunt for the vampiress ensues as a group of men follow her bloody trail of terror through the countryside. Adapted from J. Sheridan Le Fanu's novella "Carmilla," The Vampire Lovers stars Ingrid Pitt, George Cole and Peter Cushing.
Now this rather erotic Hammer chiller (Leonard Maltin) appears on Bluray for the first time… If you dare, come into a twilight world of unspeakable horror and taste the deadly passion of the blood-nymphs!
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This movie is the first of what is known as 'The Karnstein Trilogy.' The other two are 'Lust for A Vampire' and 'Twins of Evil.' These movies were released in the early 70's by the famous horror movie company, Hammer Productions.
BLU-RAY & EXTRA'S: The picture is very good. It's not the clearest picture I've ever seen but it's still blu-ray quality. I'm not an expert in these things so I'm giving it 4 stars. The extra's are excellent. They are:
- Commentary track with the Director, Roy Ward Baker, actress Ingrid Pitt and writer, Tudor Gates.
- A documentary called 'Femme Fantastique: Resurrecting The Vampire Lovers.'
- Interview with Actress Madeline Smith
- A reading of 'Carmilla' by Ingrid Pitt
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- Radio Spot
- Reversible cover
PLOT/SUMMARY: The movie opens with a scene from the past in the 18th century (the whole movie takes place in the 18th century but moves forward, I'm guessing approximately 20 years or so since the Baron Hartog has clearly aged.) The Baron Hartog is in a castle over looking a graveyard. He is there for vengeance. A vampire has killed his sister. A beautiful vampire approaches him and hypnotizes him but he is saved when his crucifix distracts the vampire. He cuts her head off.
Years later at a party held by the General (Peter Cushing) a strange lady leaves the party and also leaves behind her daughter, Marcilla, who is really Carmilla. She said she is being called away for an emergency and thanks the General for allowing her daughter to stay. Carmilla befriends his niece, Laura. After a short period of time, Laura becomes very weak and eventually dies. The village doctor notices the fang marks on Laura's breast. The General understands what has happened and leaves to go and find the Baron Hartog. Right after Laura's death, Carmilla leaves.
Shortly thereafter, the same situation repeats at Roger Morton's house. Carmilla and her mother arrange for their carriage to break down and Carmilla feigns illness. She is taken in by the Morton's where she befriends his daughter Emma. Emma also has a caretaker named Perrodot. Shortly thereafter, Emma begins to weaken. Ebhardt, the butler, catches on to what is happening. He calls for the doctor. The doctor and Ebhardt arrange to have someone with Emma at all times and call for her father to return. Ebhardt suspects Perrodot. Carmilla had previously hypnotized Perrodot and has her do her bidding. Ebhardt and the doctor have garlic flowers put in her room along with a crucifix and a 24 hour guard. Carmilla realizing that her days are numbered kills Ebhardt and the doctor along with Perrodot. Morton, Hartog and the general return and meet Carl, a young suitor of Emma and a friend of the family. They tell him to leave to protect Emma. Carl returns to Morton's house and saves Emma. Carmilla takes off and leaves for her castle graveyard. Hartog, Morton and The General head to the graveyard to stop Carmilla for good.
PRODUCTION: This movie was release in 1970 and was directed by Roy Ward Baker. It is based on a novella that had been a serial in a magazine called 'The Dark Blue' in the early 1870's.
Peter Cushing appears in this movie but it is as a supporting role. He plays the role of 'The General.' He is in the opening 15 to 20 minutes and then takes off in search of the Baron Hartog. He then returns for the last 15 minutes or so to help hunt down the vampiress Carmilla. AIP (American International Pictures) was co-financing the film and they were uneasy with the script which had lesbianism in it along with plenty of nudity. This was still at the very beginning of the ratings system which allowed for these sorts of things. To ease their fears a bit, Hammer brought in Cushing. Cushing had been a long established star in horror movies in the late 50's and 60's starring many times as Dr. Frankenstein and Van Helsing along with other roles.
Ingrid Pitt, got the role as Carmilla after meeting James Carreras, head of Hammer. The role was supposed to go to a young girl because in the novel 'Carmilla,' Carmilla is a 16 year old girl. Pitt was 32 at the time. She had all the qualities that Hammer was looking for. Pitt was a polish actress and she also stars in 'Countess Dracula.' These are the two movies for which she is most well known.
COMMENTS: Hammer uses a different set of rules for vampires in this movie. We are told that vampires can only be killed through a stake in the heart or their head being cut off. They take no chances and do both. They can go out in sunlight. Sunlight seems to be more like an annoyance as 'Carmilla' prefers to stay in the shade. The cross and garlic can keep vampires away and are used as protection as is the norm.
They also go into this bit about a shroud. I'm not sure if I have this right but they say that when a vampire leaves their coffin they drop a shroud that they must wear when they go back into their coffin. In the end scene they make a point of looking for the shroud but then this doesn't factor in again.
I wasn't sure why Baron Hartog and the General and company had to move Carmilla's coffin into a chapel. They didn't have to do that with any other vampire. Perhaps this was explained in the novella.
Vampires are one of my least favorite movie monsters. I know they are popular among women and men too because they have personality but I prefer Frankenstein, Werewolf and others. The whole 'erotic' thing just doesn't do it for me. Strictly a personal preference.
I never really figured out who 'The Man in Black' was. Was he a master? a pervert who liked to watch? or something else? I didn't read the novella but I know he had a different role in it. Also, he was supposed to die in this movie but a script rewrite kept him alive for possible sequels.
I also never figured out who was the lady travelling with Carmilla.
I also never really figured out why Carmilla would outright kill some of her victims immediately and slowly drained the blood from others. I thought she was turning them into vampires but she wasn't. Once again, I guess if I read the novella then this would be explained. Probably has something to do with her being in love with them and not wanting to kill them.
RECOMMENDATIONS: I recommend this movie for all fans of vampires and of course, fans of Hammer Productions. I'm giving it 5 stars because of this release is very good. You get a commentary track with the major players along with the very good movie. I'm giving the movie 4 1/2 stars and the Blu-ray print 4 stars and I'm bumping it up to 5 stars because of the commentary track, excellent extra's and importantly, the price. This release is priced at $9.99 for the multi-format version at the time of this review in January, 2018.
This is a VERY soft core & erotic film. I was extreamly suprised that Hammer Studios deigned to make this, let alone release it. It is very classy. Well scripted. And extreamly well acted. When It says on the cover "Not for the mentally immature", THEY AREN'T KIDDING!!!!
I love this film. And am glad I purchased it!