The Vampire Lovers - Wikipedia
The Vampire Lovers – 1970

Director Roy Ward Baker
Screenplay Tudor Gates based on Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
Starring Ingrid Pitt, George Cole, Kate O’Mara, Peter Cushing, Dawn Addams

My first intentional experience with Hammer Horror takes shape as the studio moved away from the silly kind of films one could view with their kids, added a light lesbian touch with a heavy dose of t&a for a world getting used to the idea of the X-Rating. The sensibility is still childish, for sure. The type of person who could enjoy this trash probably is very much like the men in the cast: older, formal and repressed.

The story is based on a 19th Century gothic novella, somehow rendered into a trilogy. A vampire named Marcilla / Carmilla / Countess Mircalla Karnstein (Pitt) is wandering through Styria, Croatia, visiting family after family, infecting and stealing away the daughters of many of the Barons, Governors and Generals to add to her brood.

Carmilla’s power over people is the same kind of magnetism seen in so many other films, only here its done in broken English. While she’s doing her damage, old men move about the countryside trying to figure out how and why this is happening. Everyone is clueless until it’s just about too late.

Peter Cushing made a ton of these films. He’s not a real important piece of the puzzle here: he just comes off as one more wrinkled old white guy trying to overcome the female sex appeal with a stake through the heart.

The acting is bad, the effects are juvenile, the serious tone is laughable. I suppose there was a time when this film could have been effective. That time came and went before my voice broke for the first time.

If there is good Hammer horror, I haven’t seen it yet.

(* out of *****)

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