'The Vampire Lovers' is the first of the Karnstein Trilogy, and in my opinion the best. The film captures love, unhappiness and evil, which makes the film brilliant.
'The Vampire Lovers' is based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Brilliant Vampire story 'Carmilla'. The Novel, and the film, is set in the Austrian Province of Styria.
The 'Evil' of this story comes in the form of Ingrid Pitt, who plays Mircalla Karnstein, a centuries old Vampire. Mircalla travels around Styria looking for 'fresh meat' (e.g Beautiful young females!) under Pseudonyms
of her real name, Marcilla and Carmilla.
She seems very lonely in the film. She wants Emma to be with her, I am not saying she isn't evil but there is a certain sadness about her character. I think Ingrid Pitt played the part well, some people say she was just good in 'nude' scenes but I think she is a good actress and especially good at facial expressions and showing emotions.
The cast of this film include Peter Cushing as General Spielsdorf, Madelyne Smith as Emma Morton, Pippa Steele as Laura Spielsdorf, George Cole as Mr Morton, Douglas Wilmar as Baron Hartog and a virtually mute John Forbes-Robertson as The Man in Black aka Count Karnstein.
'The Vampire Lovers' is a surprisingly close adaptation of Le Fanu's 'Carmilla and a ground breaking film for Hammer, as it was the first Hammer film to have nudity and first to get an X rating. After this film Vampire Films were very erotic and female Vampires made appearances in more and more films, including films by Jess Franco and other 'Euro-trash' film directors. This film did very well in the theatres and even spawned two sequels.
This film has a lot to offer the main character, as stated before, is very interesting. Though Mircalla is clearly 'Evil', you (the viewer) do sympathise with her. I love the funeral scene it is very effective and once again, as I have commented on before of times Ms Pitt uses her facial talents to good effect. I also liked the Bath scene (not just for the nudity) because there is a great chemistry between Carmilla and Emma, and until the end of that scene, Carmilla seems just like an ordinary girl.
Peter Cushing acts brilliantly, as usual, his General Spielsdorf is a very interesting character. Cushing portrays a devastated man very well.
There isn't a lot of gore but, in my opinion, too much gore would ruin the plot. Fans of Vampire films will not be disappointed.
Thank you for reading my review, I hope you find it helpful.