The Vampire Lovers
PLOT (spoiler alert!!!)
In early 19th century Styria, a beautiful blonde (Kirsten Lindholm) in a diaphanous gown materialises from a misty graveyard. Encountering the Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer), a vampire hunter out to avenge the death of his sister, the girl is revealed as a vampire when her breast is seared by his crucifix. Baring her fangs to attack the Baron, she is swiftly decapitated.
Many years later, a sultry dark-haired lady leaves her daughter Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt) in the care of General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) and his family at their Styrian mansion. Marcilla quickly befriends the General’s daughter, Laura (Pippa Steel). Laura suffers nightmares that she is being attacked, and her health deteriorates until she dies. Marcilla vanishes from the General’s home.
Faking a carriage break-down, Marcilla’s mother leaves her (now using the alias Carmilla) at the residence of a Mr Morton. Here, Carmilla befriends and seduces Morton’s daughter Emma (Madeline Smith) but her need to feed overcomes her emotional attachment and Emma too begins to fade. Emma has nightmares of being pierced over the heart, and her breast shows tiny wounds. Emma’s governess, Mme. Perrodot (Kate O’Mara) also falls victim to Carmilla’s erotic blandishments and becomes her willing tool. Some in the household, the butler and a doctor, suspect what might be happening, especially in the wake of several local girls’ suddenly dying. But Carmilla kills each one. All the while, a mysterious man in black (clearly also a vampire) watches events from a distance, smiling (his presence is never explained).
After Carmilla kills the butler, having convinced him that Mme. Perrodot is a vampire then persuaded him (with her womanly charms) to remove the garlic protecting Emma, Carmilla goes to Emma’s bedroom. She says she must go away, but is taking Emma with her. A desperate and sick Madame begs Carmilla to take her with her. Carmilla kills her, in front of a horrified Emma. Emma is barely rescued by a young man named Carl (Jon Finch) who fashions a makeshift cross from his dagger. Carmilla flees to her nearby ancestral castle, now a ruin.
All this coincides with the arrival of the General, who brings with him a now-aged Baron Hartog. They find Carmilla’s grave, where she sleeps. Her eyes open, and interestingly enough she makes no move to defend herself. The General lifts a stake—and back in her bedchamber Emma screams “No!”—then drives it into Carmilla’s heart. He then cuts off her head. Carmilla’s portrait on the wall decays, showing now a fanged skeleton instead of a beautiful young woman.
Pay no attention to the movie poster, The Vampire Lovers is not some kind of nymphomaniac vampire flick. Instead it is a tale of the vampire queen Carmilla, though I’m not exactly sure if this is how it is originally told.
What did I like?
Mystery. You might not remember this, since almost every vampire film nowadays all but forgets vampire lore, but vampires are really mysterious creatures. This film allows Carmilla to drift about as an enigma, which is what vampires are.
Beauty. Ingrid Pitt is one beautiful woman. Since this is how Carmilla is described, they did a good job of choosing the right actress to play her. She reminds me alot of Monica Bellucci, or maybe that should be the other way around ,since this was made in 1970.
Shadowy figure. All throughout the film, there is this creepy figure on a horse hanging around in the shadows. His purpose is never made clear, but I believe he is Dracula and is watching over the events waiting for the right moment (there are 2 sequels to the film).
What didn’t I like?
Is she or isn’t she? There are quite a few lesbionic tones to the film. Like most straight men, I’m all for seeing sexy lesbians on the screen, but I’m also of the believe that if you’re gonna lez out, then do it and stop teasing!!!
Random hero. Out of nowhere, as the film is coming to the conclusion, we see this guy riding towards the castle, and with a purpose. For those of you that want the girl to be saved, then this is more than likely up your alley. However, for me, I would have liked things to have gone another way. Why is there always some random guy who shows up and saves the day, not that it needed saving. Carmilla wasn’t exactly trying to take over the world or anything.
Gray. The ending scene is very reminiscent of Dorian Gray (book or movie). While I liked it there, for this it just seemed to be nothing more than some sort of unnecessary visual to end things, especially since we only see this painting one other time!
The Vampire Lovers isn’t a bad film, per se, but it isn’t anything write home about, either. As far as lesbian vampire flicks go, you’d do better checking out Vampyres. This just comes off as an average vampire flick, but at least we get a real vampire, and not some glittery abomination!
3 out of 5 stars