The Vam­pire Lovers

SFX - - Rated / Dvd & blu- ray -

Sap­phic vi­o­lence

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.

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