THE VAMPIRE LOVERS
DIRECTOR: ROY WARD BAKER
COUNTRY: ENGLAND 1970
MUSIC: Supervised by Phillip Martel.
CAST: Ingrid Pitt as Carmilla, George Cole as the Baron, Kate O'Mara as Laura, Peter Cushing as the General.
SUPER FEATURES: Taken Directly from Sheridan LeFanu's classic Gothic Tale "Carmilla". Well done Hammer Studios film.
There are a lot of vampire films, but few are original enough, and well done to boot.
A friend of mine was an avid Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing fan. That meant that every time we found another film with either of these two, off we were to see the film. One time we drove 400 miles to see one of them, because we knew that if it only appeared at an art house in Beserkley, then it definitely was not going to make it to L.A. And so I became familiar with the HAMMER STUDIOS, which were to the English film schools what the TOHO studios were to the Japanese film schools. In these schools, it seems everyone got their start, either playing major roles, or smaller bits and pieces for the new actors.
Hammer had one thing going which the Japanese did not. It cared about its films, and had obviously made a decision to stick with the quality and not give in to the desires of the masses by presenting ever more gory material, or ever more detailed destructions of Tokyo. This helped in ways which the British should be commended on. It developed writers, it developed actors, and it developed many film people, most notably directors, like Roy Ward Baker, Terence Young and Guy Hamilton who went on to the major screen doing things as far as some James Bond films. In the meantime, the writers were developing new wrinkles for the continuing sagas of both Count Dracula and the Baron Frankenstein, who kept resurrecting, in very clever ways, either by accident (a mistake in the previous story) or by design (a new group of count worshippers) until one day, the stories had reached a peak, and I presume the leads were getting tired of it, and they made attempts at mixing Dracula with the modern times. The film bombed, as did the studio after that. I can't say that I have seen many films done by that studio these days, although its facilities are being used by many others, for special period pieces, where major structures are still up and available.
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS appeared somewhere in the middle of the saga of the Count Dracula series. It was a story Christopher Lee wished to be a part of but couldn't fit in his schedule. The story was based directly on the
famous Sheridan LeFanu story of Carmilla, a gothic classic of major proportions, and a book which defined the genre.
The story of Carmilla, introduces the relationships between women in the vampire mode. And instead centering it on the carnality of the whole process, the story, and film, concentrate on the sensory/sexual side of the whole process. Carmilla loves members of her own sex. And loves them to death ( literally ) one bite at a time. Like the novel, the film has enough soft nudity to make it appealing and arousing, and was rated X when it first came out.
The Baron was in the past a vampire hunter, and missed one, who came back to haunt him. Carmilla.
And this time, they get the job done. Or do they, because Laura has just died, and she was bitten, and smitten. Room for a sequel, I guess.
This was Hammer's first use of Ingrid Pitt, who had been a model prior to her acting debut. Unffortunatelly
although she is good, her stock did not develop and she did not last very long, though she did four or five hammer films. Peter Cushing has a small role, taken in by the Baroness who is Carmilla's mother (not clear,... could
be a lover, and she is not a factor in the story at all), whose entrance details the beginning of the story.
This is a very well done film, and really only a curiosity shop for the film collectors and serious viewers. It is honest to the book, and very true to the setting. With one of the funniest and best shots in film history ... get ready for the Ball scene.
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