RELEASED IN 1970 and directed by Roy Ward Baker, "The Vampire Lovers" is a Hammer horror based on Irish novelist Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla," which was published in 1872 and predated Bram Stoker's "Dracula" by 25 years. The story concerns a family of vampires, the Karnsteins, who prey on people in Austria by finding an excuse to leave their daughter at a rich manor. She then proceeds to patiently seduce the nubile woman of the abode as she drinks the blood of local peasant lassies and whomever else.
The main antagonist, Carmilla/Marcilla Karnstein, is played by Ingrid Pitt, who's effective, but a little too long-in-the-tooth for the role. While she prefers to prey on wealthy nubile girls and there are overt Sapphic undertones, she's just as willing to suck the blood of dudes when it suits her diabolic purposes. Her pretense of passionate romantic love is just that as she's intrinsically evil and referred to as a "devil" elsewhere in the movie. Make no mistake, she's solely out to find and feed off victims.
While vampires are fantastical, Carmilla is figurative of evil women who purpose to seduce or convert people and destroy them. This IS real life and I've seen it happen several times. The tale isn't for immature audiences because it's too convoluted, dramatic, weighty and mature. I saw it 15 years ago and wasn't impressed but, seeing it again, I now grasp it and it's virtually revelatory.
The female cast is superb, rounded out by: Madeline Smith (Emma), Pippa Steel (Laura), Kate O'Mara (The Governess, aka Mme. Perrodot), Janet Key (Gretchin, the maid), Kirsten Lindholm (the blonde vampire in the opening; also shown later), Olga James (Village Girl), Joanna Shelley (Woodman's Daughter) and Dawn Addams (The Countess/Karnstein matriarch). There's a little bit of tasteful top nudity and Pitt is shown totally nude on two occasions in a classy manner. She's a beautiful woman, for sure, but she doesn't trip my trigger.
As far as the male cast goes, Peter Cushing has a side role and Jon Finch is on hand as the gallant hunk. There are others.
FYI: "The Vampire Lovers" is the first part of the so-called Karnstein Trilogy, which includes the quasi-sequel "Lust for a Vampire" (1971) and the prequel "Twins of Evil" (1971).
THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour, 31 minutes and was shot in Hertfordshire, England.