The Vampire Lovers (1970) REVIEW

The Vampire Lovers (1970) REVIEW

The Vampire Lovers

TITLE: The Vampire Lovers
DIRECTOR: Roy Ward Baker
CAST: Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, George Cole, Kate O’Mara.

FUN FACT: During production, Ingrid Pitt’s fangs were constantly falling down Kate O’Mara’s cleavage. Apparently, the crew were more than willing to retrieve them.

FUN FACT 2: John Forbes-Robertson, seen here as the mysterious ‘Man in Black’, later played Dracula in Hammer’s final vampire movie Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.

FUN FACT 3: The Vampire Lovers is the film that Robert Quarry’s vampire settles down to watch on TV in AIP’s The Return of Count Yorga (1971).

Today in our Karnstein Sexy Vampire series, STEPHEN MOSLEY starts off with The Vampire Lovers 

The first film in Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy, based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 novella Carmilla – and the studio’s sole collaboration with its American counterpart AIP – The Vampire Lovers is something of a favourite among many Hammer fans, though I have always found it to be one of the studio’s lesser efforts.

Sadly lacking the Gothic splendour of earlier triumphs, it is the kind of film, unfortunatelIngrid Pitt and Madeline Smith in The Vampire Lovers (1970)y, that invites witless parody.

The film’s tone is set early on: the first vampire victim being a saucy-looking fellow who’s about to urinate on a tavern wall. From then on in, the film drags on in a welter of diaphanous nightgowns, dreams, and flashbacks.

Madeline Smith plays a wide-eyed innocent whose sole worry in life is not being able to pronounce the German word for ‘eyebrow’ – that is, until Ingrid Pitt appears and bites her on the boob.

Despite a thin atmosphere, director Roy Ward Baker does manage to stage one or two memorable moments: with a defiant swish of her gown, Carmilla becomes a tearful, glimmering shade through which Jon Finch’s dagger passes, shattering a vase; and her subsequent beheading by Peter Cushing is the stuff of iconic Hammer Horror.

Peter Cushing in The Vampire LoversThe cast is familiar-faced, though Cushing is underused. Jon Finch is among the tribe of excellent young actors given their break by Hammer, and Dawn Addams makes a welcome return in her first film for the company since playing the heroine of 1959’s The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll.

Best of all, of course, is the majestic presence of the late Ingrid Pitt (so sorely missed) as chief menace Carmilla. The film only really comes to life whenever she is on-screen; indeed, the mere sight of her prowling the woods is enough to cause Ferdy Mayne to fall from his horse!

However, for those all too willing to dismiss the film as a product of 1970s desperation, you may be surprised, on reading Le Fanu’s source material, to discover just how faithful it is to the original story.

STEPHEN MOSLEY is an actor, writer, and musician. His book of strange tales THE BOY WHO LOVED SIMONE SIMON is out now, and was selected by ENTERTAINMENT FOCUS as one of the 10 Best Books of 2011. He can be seen as the evil Ear Goblin in the forthcoming movie KENNETH He is one half of the music duo COLLINSON TWIN, and he lives in a dungeon near Leeds.

View Comments (2)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Films

Seize the Night has landed! Watch it now for FREE

Staff Writer3rd May 2016

Dacre Stoker’s Top 10 Dracula-inspired Films

Dacre Stoker24th April 2016

Hammer’s Judy Matheson counts down her horror film favourites

David Saunderson17th April 2016

Deleted Scene from Victor Frankenstein (2015)

Staff Writer11th April 2016

Fox Trap, a throwback to slasher horror fun

Kayleigh Marie Edwards28th March 2016

The many faces of Sherlock’s ‘the woman’ Irene Adler

Nia Jones22nd March 2016

Devil’s Playground (2010) REVIEW

Simon Ball10th March 2016

Batman versus Jack the Ripper

Andrew Garvey9th March 2016

Is ‘Night Kaleidoscope’ the scariest horror of the year?

Kayleigh Marie Edwards6th March 2016

The Dinosaur Project (2012) REVIEW

Simon Ball6th March 2016

Victor Frankenstein (2015) REVIEW

Ann O'Regan23rd February 2016

Screamvention – Horror comes howling to Dublin!

Ann O'Regan22nd February 2016