Friday, 15 July 2011
Eager to reinvigorate their slowly failing business, Hammer Studios embarked upon a new cycle of vampire films, 'The Karnstein Trilogy', i.e. films that ripped off Sheridan Le Fanu rather than Bram Stoker. 'The Vampire Lovers' was the first, and most popular, although it is rather slow moving and less sensational that its synopsis (and fantastic poster) might suggest.
Ingrid Pitt plays Carmilla, a mysterious young woman who infiltrates Peter Cushing's household and systematically begins to seduce or kill (sometimes one after the other) everyone in biting distance. The men, of course, need little encouragement, but the women, including Kate O'Mara and Madeline Smith, require some hair stroking and topless high jinks before they succumb. Cushing is soon on the case, however, and it can only end one way, with Ingrid's pretty head detached from her pretty body, her Dorian Gray style portrait decaying to show a horrible skeleton with massive teeth.
A big success at the time, it was the first Hammer film made with American finance, specifically money from American International Pictures. Strangely, the production seems cheaper than ever, but it makes good use of real locations and chucks in enough atmosphere, blood and bosoms to keep the eye on the action.