The Vampire Lovers
Release Date: OUT NOW!
1970 | 15 | Blu- ray Director: Roy Ward Baker Cast: Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith, Kate O’Mara, George Cole, Peter Cushing
Sex was always
a key ingredient of Hammer horror, from the moment Christopher Lee’s Dracula swept down the stairs of his castle, setting female pulses racing. But as the studio entered the more permissive ’ 70s, the two- backed beast increasingly eclipsed the befanged bloodsucker.
Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 tale “Carmilla”, The Vampire Lovers pushes a lesbian subtext to the fore, then strips it bare. Ingrid Pitt is the vamp who insinuates herself into aristocratic homes to prey on young women. At 32, the Polish actress is visibly far too old for the role, but has an undeniable magnetism.
Moments of visual poetry – Pitt wafting through a misty graveyard in a diaphanous gown – aside, it’s a little plodding. Lose the titillation and it’s basically an extended wait for the family patriarchs to wise up. Though tame by today’s standards, once you know quite how naïve young actress Madeline Smith was, certain scenes are uncomfortable viewing; this is exploitation cinema in more ways than one.
Extras: Hammer mavens Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby provide informative, good- humoured commentary. Other experts join them on featurette “New Blood” ( 25 minutes), which explains what a watershed film this was for Hammer. Plus: trailer, gallery, restoration comparison. Cleaned up frame- by- frame, this new transfer looks immaculate. Ian Berriman Stately home exteriors were shot at the clubhouse of a Rickmansworth golf course. Their tennis courts are clearly visible!
Her mime Hamlet needed more work.