Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

After being called away to a family emergency The Countess imposes her beautiful daughter Marcilla on the General. Warmly receptive the General takes Marcilla into his home where she becomes very close with his daughter Laura. As the two grower closer though Laura becomes infected with an illness that causes her to have unbecoming nightmares and drains the strength out of her daily. When Laura's sickness peaks and she's at her worse all she can ask for is Marcilla, but when Laura fatally passes one night and the General looks to Marcilla she has disappeared. With lingering rumors of a vampire that has killed nearby villagers the General makes it his mission to stop her with the help of an experienced vampire hunter. Meanwhile Marcilla has moved onto a new house with the new name Carmilla and a new love interest in young and pretty Emma, who's beginning to grow pale and plagued nightly with bad dreams. As Carmilla's seductive prowl extends it's way over the Morton household the General rushes to find answers and kill the vampire Micalla.

Sheridan Le Fanu 'Carmilla' has enticed more of my interest in vampires than anything as of recent. Another adaption, Et Mourir De Plasir, is my current icon and recent cinematographic addiction. The Vampire Lovers in truth fell a bit short for me as the film faltered and slowed during the middle. The cover itself is of an exploitation variety offering the word blood-nymphs as it description. And like ninety percent of the exploitation film posters it's a lie as there's no sex, little blood, and neither of them occurring together. The little bit of nudity used is tasteful and not like those from the late seventies tits and gore collection, despite having similar plots. It doesn't expel cheesy or over the top moments, but makes up for it in effectively capturing the seductive horror to the female vampire plot. Not that it necessarily scares but is more of a case of acknowledgement than anything else.

Ingrid Pitt is of course the lovely, beautiful and terrifying Carmilla or Marcilla, depending on who's house she's lurking in. She's memorizing in a role she seems to understand every facet of, as playing the alluring vampire isn't foreign to her. There's an interesting complexity to the Micalla character as the bits of exposure outside of preying on young woman show an age that most actors and writers fail to grasp in the vampire story. Peter Cushing is lovable because he's simply Peter Cushing. The role of the general is simplistic yet kind and Cushing likely didn't have to do much for the part, but he's likable in his small role that almost serves as a cameo more than anything. The two young women Carmilla sets her interests on are too naive to be mentioned beyond that, Emma especially. For whatever reason I'm failing to locate an actor name or character name for the vampire on the horse. That being said all I really wanted to address of him was how ridiculous of a character he is, with his corny wicked smile being the lead issue. But, as that being said, it's in appropriate Hammer Horror fashion.

The film flowed in and out of unique photography moments but some of the more noted use of cinematography is in the opening scene that utilize a foggy dark set to display a beautiful lavender sheet for the vampire. The other is the nightmare sequence where the director and DP turn the frame black and white and doesn't allow the creature to come on screen. The Vampire Lovers is among a lot of the better Hammer Horror films, but not as famous as some of their other vampire classics, such as Dracula and Pitt's Countess Dracula. It's also a good 'Carmilla' adaption but not the best as I still give that to Roger Vadim's previously mentioned film. Still good enough to create a small film franchise and following I'd recommend The Vampire Lovers to Hammer Horror fans, as a watch for one of the genre's most prominent females of horror Ingrid Pitt, or for those who like the lesbian vampire sub-genre, mind you.


Tristen Blackwell said...

Carmilla is probably the best vampire story ever written and this sounds like a free adaptation well worth watch it. Ingrid Pitt was definitely fit for the role.

Bleeding Dead said...

I do love Carmilla, it pre-dates Dracula but doesn't get a lot of recognition. Sad as I personally think it's a better vampire novel than Dracula. A lot more risque and dream like.

If you like this I would definitely watch Et Mourir De Plasir (Or Blood and Roses). The Blood Splattered Bride also isn't a bad Carmilla adaption.

Thank you for the comment.