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  • Hammer Studios speeds up to the more sexually explicit times with Vampire Lovers, a sleek, beautifully filmed atmospheric filming of the vampire tale Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. This wonderfully done film combines the traditional vampire legend with the more permissive sexual standards of the 70's resulting in a sensual yet frightening version of this well crafted story. Ingrid Pitt is breathtakingly beautiful & sensual as the main character Carmilla. She is the human embodiment of a sexually charged feline, and Peter Cushing is appropriately sincere as her nemesis The General. This film singlehandedly established Ingrid Pitt as the reigning queen of vampirism in the 70's. Vampire Lovers is well worth the time for a viewing.
  • An ocean of mist hangs above a grave. A figure enveloped in a white shroud swirls through that mist with balletic grace, then rakes a hand across a bloody mouth.* A man at his niece's deathbed calls for her missing friend. The call echoes through the empty chambers of the house and down the terrace outside, where the wind blows fallen leaves through the autumn night. The calls merge with older echoes in a cemetery beneath a ruined castle. A woman walks in those mists, clad in her nightgown. The mists dissolve her from sight. * "I want you - to love me - for all your life," pleads a beautiful vampire turning from the view through a moonlit window to clasp the girl she loves with desperate intimacy. * That same vampire woman stands on a terrace in the sunset, tears glinting in her eyes while she listens to the ancestral echoes that condemn her to her fate. *

    Yes, this is pure Hammer Horror: a work conceived as sheerest exploitation which somehow transforms itself - in its greatest moments anyway - to an authentic romantic poetry. Yes, of course, a lesbian vampire movie made by men may seem the height of sexism, and at a conceptual level the movie may be open to those charges. But a female gothic artist was involved here: Ingrid Pitt, whose Carmilla is such a vivid presence as to render herself the character we root for and her patriachal enemies as the true pale-faced monsters (Has Peter Cushing ever come across as less loveable?). Other screen vampiresses are bimbos or boogeywomen or upmarket fashion plates by comparison: Pitt is tigerish, witty, tender, passionate, vulnerable, savage and tragic: Perhaps the only actor, male or female, who has brought to full life all the complexities of the vampire psyche. She's great and the other film-makers, at their best, rise to the challenge she sets. The movie is hardly unflawed but when its accidental poetry gels, few movies in its genre can surpass it.
  • In Styria, Austria, General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) gives a party and a countess explains to him that she needs to travel immediately to visit a relative that is ill. She leaves her daughter Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt) under the care of the General. Marcilla befriends his daughter Laura (Pippa Steele) and then the teenager has nightmares, where she is attacked by a dreadful creature. The doctor finds that Laura is anemic and soon she dies.

    Marcilla leaves the house and the countess fakes a carriage accident to leave Marcilla, now known as Carmilla, with the wealthy Mr. Roger Morton (George Cole). Camilla befriends Emma Morton (Madeline Smith) and soon she starts having nightmares. Her governess Madame Perrodot (Kate O'Mara) is seduced by Carmilla and helps her to be close to Emma. Mr. Morton travels and the butler Renton (Harvey Hall) and the doctor suspect that Madame Perrodot might be a vampire but they do not suspect of Carmilla. Will Emma be saved from Carmilla?

    "The Vampire Lovers" is a bold and sexy vampire movie by Hammer with the right dose of eroticism. In 1970, lesbianism was not a usual theme and a lesbian vampire was a novelty. This is the first time that I see a vampire associated to a shroud. The plot explores the sensuality of Ingrid Pitt and her female victims but is never sexploitation. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Carmilla, A Vampira de Karnstein" ("Carmilla, The Karnstein's Vampire")

    Note: Last time I had seen this movie was on 07 December 2002.
  • Where would the horror field be if it weren't for the legendary Hammer Studios? With their constant creativity and new variations on the general topic of vampirism they delivered some of the most important genre-films ever. Roy Ward Baker's film the Vampire Lovers is one of the most essential movies Hammer ever released and it meant a landmark turning point for the sub-genre of bloodsuckers. Due to THIS film, vampirism afterwards always got immediately associated with eroticism and lust. The Vampire Lovers influenced notorious directors like Jess Franco (Vampyros Lesbos, Les Avaleuses) or Jean Rollin (Lips of Blood, The Living Dead Girl) who practically made an entire career out of lesbian vampire movies. But this is the real thing! A stunning screenplay, based on a classic tale by Sheridan Le Fanu, solid acting performances and an atmospheric – almost dreamlike – photography. Ingrid Pitt plays the best, most memorable role of her career as the gypsy vampire Carmilla. Her sensual character seduces attractive young girls at the homes of prominent men where she's at guest and turns them into weak, lifeless slaves. The worried men have to uncover the origin of this vampire wench in order to destroy her forever.

    'The Vampire Lovers' offers a nearly perfect combination of atmosphere, beauty and tension. Mostly thanks to the female cast led by Ingrid Pitt, this is the most bewitching horror tale Hammer ever told. The ravishing naked bodies of Pitt, Madeline Smith (Theathre of Blood) and Kate O'Mara (Horror of Frankenstein) will give this film a spot in your memory forevermore. And that's not a sexist remark; it just needs to be said. Other than the charismatic female appearances, this production also depends a lot on the eerie set pieces and the nightmarishly dark images of graveyards, ruins and castles. Overall, a splendid horror film and a must see for all fans of Hammer, vampirism or gorgeous beauties.
  • This film gets a lot of ribbing for the casual nudity that bedecks it. Not fair. This film is in many ways another Hammer classic with its good solid acting, its lush photography and costuming, and general sense of horror. It is based in part on Sheridan Le Fanu's classic female vampire story Carmilla about a young girl that befriends other young girls only to vampirize them. Ingrid Pitt plays the toothy(and toothsome) vampire wench in all her busty splendour. She is magnificent on the screen and oozes sex appeal. Yes, she goes topless as do her female co-stars....but although one sees that these scenes feel forced...they do not detract from the film(and for me they enhanced it greatly). The rest of the cast is good with Peter Cushing as a general in a small role and Harvey Hall as a servant standing out. The best part of the film for me is the eerie graveyard of the Castle Karnstein that we are introduced to in the prologue and again visited to in the epilogue. It really sets the mood of the story and was a pretty inspired rendition of the Carmilla tale.
  • 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.

    GRADE: B+/B
  • I tend to like the classic horror films of Hammer, Universal, and American International, and "Vampire Lovers" is an esteemed favorite. There are many elements skillfully blended in this fine production, but the central appeal is Ingrid Pitt who breathes passionate, undead life into her role. Her impressive acting ability is matched by her smoldering screen presence and beauty. She is perfectly cast in this role. Wow, did the people who made this movie ever know what they were doing. The costumery, the lighting and photography, the staging, the acting and direction, all combine seamlessly for a stunning spectacle to be savored over and over again. This is the movie that single-handedly minted the "lesbian vampire" as a major cinematic motif, and set the standard for comparison that later entries in this genre would forever be judged by. I doubt we would ever have had such films as "Vampyres," "Vampyros Lesbos" or various Jean Rollin movies (not to mention Hammer's other Karnstein trilogy entries) without this film. And this movie could never have been as good without Ingrid Pitt. Her command of acting nuance is really something. Check out her facial expression when she's in the broken-down coach and Laura, all excited, tells her: "You're to stay with us!"
  • I've finally caught up with this erotic supernatural thriller, which is bundled with "Countess Dracula" on an Ingrid Pitt Double Feature DVD. Having heard about this film since I was a boy reading "Castle of Frankenstein" magazine, I was well aware that more adult themes are included in this film than in the average Hammer vampire movie. And it still does have the power to shock today's audiences. I still wonder whether the "lovers" of the title are vampires or the mortals who love them? The question remains unanswered in my mind.

    It's not news that "The Vampire Lovers" was based on Sheridan Le Fanu's novella, Carmella, and expounded on his original undercurrents of lesbianism and the eroticism often connected to vampire folklore. So here we have ancient vampire Ingrid Pitt traversing the countryside with her mother/aunt Dawn Addams, who looks near her contemporary in age. Apparently plenty of English Aristocracy easily throw open their doors for the likes of lovely, if somewhat distant, mystery ladies who make themselves right at home. Then beautiful vampire Pitt ingratiates herself with any virginal young lady in the household in order to slowly drain the blood from her body by biting her on the breast.

    This is all pretty standard Hammer fare, but now served with a steaming hot portion of female skin and eroticism. Lovely and iconic cult figure Ingrid Pitt dominates the film, and she's fascinating to watch. All the women concerned are lovely to look at, and the proceedings move along at a nice pace, aided by colorful and atmospheric sets and locales.
  • Certainly a movie one would use the word "good" for rather than "great", but this movie does contain flashes of the unique attributes that made Hammer such a winner in the first place but which had been largely forgotten by the company in its rush to replicate the success of "One Million Years B.C." with cheap imitations. Ingrid Pitt is probably the film's greatest asset, along with the very well done sets and art design in general.

    Pitt plays a vampire lesbian who uses various forms of deception to seduce the daughters of England's upper crust. She comes off great in the role of seductress and is just barely convincing enough as the "innocent" her character pretends to be.

    Cushing makes only 2 brief appearances, not making much of an impression (but he's given very little to work with here in a role that just about anyone could have played).

    Memorable, not as good as Hammer's best vampire film "Dracula" (aka "Horror of Dracula", US) but definately one of its better, if not its best, films of the 70s.
  • _The Vampire Lovers_ is one of the most faithful adaptations of a story I have ever seen in a major production. Based on J. Sheridan LeFanu's _Carmilla_, Baker's film captures the essence of evil wrapped in feminine beauty. Ingrid Pitt plays Mircalla with great restraint; her character comes off cold and deceptive, but still driven by a need for love. The action is well timed and choreographed, and the nudity, though a bit gratutious at times, is photographed sensitively and with great appreciation for the actresses.

    Yes, this is something of a guilty pleasure because of the leads' beauty, but if one looks beyond the titilation, the story, photography, and performances in _The Vampire Lovers_ hold up very well indeed! 8 out of 10.
  • I see here that the majority of user comments for this movie are pretty positive, so it does seem that most people who will watch this movie will like it. But to be honest, I was kind of disappointed by "The Vampire Lovers". Let me make it clear that I didn't find it aggressively awful or even merely bad - I just thought that it was kind of mediocre. The main problem I had with it was the one-two punch of it being slow-moving and not much plot in the end. I grew kind of restless despite the occasional erotic or horrific elements inserted in to liven things up. Also disappointing was that Peter Cushing didn't have as much to do here as in other Hammer movies he worked on - he's offscreen for long periods of time. To its credit, the movie does have good production values, and does have some atmosphere (erotic or horrific) throughout. But in the end, as I said, the movie didn't do that much for me. I know I'm in the minority, so you still might want to give this movie a try, especially if you are a fan of Hammer films.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Ms. Pitt was that great rarity, a sex bomb that could actually act, and she's wonderful in this lush adaptation of "Carmilla". She's very sexy -- another reviewer here used the word "feline" and that's an apt comparison -- and director Baker uses her nudity wisely, just giving us a glimpse here and there, now and then, and always photographing her in such a way that emphasizes her sleekness. (The seduction sequence with the governess is I think the highlight, although we see more of Ms. Pitt elsewhere.) Pitt, though, is also quite credible as the vampire, by turns seductive, frightening, frightened and yearning. This is one of the better examples I've seen of putting the human face on the monster: Pitt herself, with her exotic accent and air of mystery, was kind of different from the start, and of course that helps. But the most credit goes to Pitt's acting, and her ability to show the shadow of the girl within the monster. Often Pitt gives the impression that she doesn't really like what she's doing, which is tough to do in these kind of roles.

    As you can see, I think Pitt's the main reason to see this. Outside of her, this is a fairly traditional Hammer vampire movie, with Pitt worming her way into households and then vampirizing the nubile young ladies (yes, there's one hell of a lesbian subtext here) and Peter Cushing as the vampire-hunter out to get her. Not particularly scary, although everyone gives it the old college try.

    A minor classic of it's type, which helped fix in the public's mind the relationship between vampires and eroticism.
  • Seeing the upper nudity in a Hammer film came as a small surprise, since all the other Hammer movies I had seen are the edited versions on American TV. Mind you, I'm NOT complaining about getting to view the breasts of Ingrid Pitt.

    VAMPIRE LOVERS is pretty typical of Hammer's other erotic horror movies, and as such, is pretty good. It's not real scary despite a few sudden scenes, but generates enough atmosphere to be worthwhile. It was also strange to finally see Peter Cushing playing a vampire killer who's NOT Dr. Van Helsing.

    As I understand it, there are other films in this series (all of which were based on the historically evil woman Carmella, rumored to have bathed in the blood of her victims because she thought it would keep her young), which might explain why at least one character (a villainous male vampire) is never destroyed. In fact, he's never really explained.

    My only complaint is some of the young actresses, though pretty and willing to show some skin, all look alike. There faces are similar, as are their bodies. Minor complaint though.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ... and great example how fun their much-criticized 1970's output really is. Untypically classy for 1970's sexy-lesbian-vampiress-story, probably because it is made with Hammer's old-fashioned British restraint, this little film actually works brilliantly. It has lovely 19th century sets and scenery, completed with wonderful misty graveyards and Gothic castles, beautiful color photography and lot of lush, romantic atmosphere. Like Hammer's Hands of the ripper, this film has a pretty, somewhat tragic female monster in 19th century home - storyline I feel is very fascinating. Sheridan LeFanu's plot is followed pretty faithfully, but for example film's young and beautiful governess, hopelessly smitten with Carmilla who prefers heroine Emma, was fat middle-aged lady in the original story, without any sexual/romantic interest to vampire lady.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    Roy Ward Baker's The Vampire Lovers is one of Hammer's more erotic vampire tales. The lovely Ingrid Pitt stars in this adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla and she is the main reason to see the film. I'll admit, I purchased this DVD simply because I am a huge Captain Kronos fan and in that film the head vampire is a Karnstein. So I thought I should see the film in which that is a reference to. So that led me to The Vampire Lovers (the first entry in the Karnstein trilogy). In the film, Ingrid Pitt has a number of slumber parties where she seduces young girls and turns them into creatures of the night. Some characters figure out what is going on and set out to slay the vamps, as is usually the case with Hammer vampire films. Too many loose ends and unnecessary aspects keep me from quite enjoying this one. My biggest complaint is that the mysterious man in black (played by John Forbes-Robinson, Hammer's back-up Dracula) is never explained. Maybe these loose ends are tied up in the other two films or maybe they aren't. I probably won't see the sequels because I'm less than satisfied with The Vampire Lovers. Also, Peter Cushing's character seems pretty pointless, even though he's always nice to see. Cushing's seems to be thrown in at the last second because we already have the knowledgeable vampire hunter character who informs everyone on the goings-on. I guess they thought Cushings would lead to a bigger audience, which is probably true. Sadly, I also found the pace to be dreadfully slow, but then how many formulaic vampire movies have I seen?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Unlike amateurish trash from Rollin and Franco, or visually lush but boring Daughters of darkness, Hammer's The Vampire lovers is elegant and exciting "sexy" vampire movie. Set in the early 19th century Styria, it has the gorgeous backdrop of castles, graveyards and period sets and the affairs of passionate vampire Carmilla and her virginal "victims" are dripping with style, class and chemistry. Vamping both male and female but falling only women, Carmilla eventually becomes the guest in the home of heroine Emma (Laura in Sheridan LeFanu's 1872 novella) and guess who starts to suffer from anemia? Horror? Well, no, not really, this Hammer classic is more like a Gothic vampire romance, and although Franco and Rollin may be artists, so is Ed Wood...
  • The Vampire Lovers is a classic tale of good versus evil, the way vampire films should be, with the vampire as a soulless and selfish creature with no humanity left in it. The modern idea of the suffering humanistic vampire decrying the pain of immortality makes me want to throw up. Another ridiculously overused modern device is vampirism as an infectious disease.

    People always want to over analyze things, to come up with a scientific explanation for everything. There's no explanation for evil. The real vampire is a symbolic creature. It's not sensitivity to UV radiation that makes them burn up in sunlight, it's that light from the sun comes from a higher power. The wooden stake is used not so much to "kill" the vampire as it is to bind it to the earth. The stake is supposed to pierce the heart and come out the other side into the dirt so the body, heart, and earth are one.

    In my opinion, The Vampire Lovers is the best of the Hammer vampire movies, barely squeaking past The Horror Of Dracula. It and the other Non-Dracula vampire pictures, Kiss of the Vampires, Captain Kronos etc. are all very underrated and on a whole, better than the Dracula series.

    One thing I really enjoyed was the subplot where the butler, who figures there's a vampire in the house, engages in a battle of wills with the vamped out chief of staff.

    I think Ingrid Pitt is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen and I've fallen about as much in love as a (mostly) sane man can with a moving picture!

    Also, I agree with Ms. Pitt's assertion (on the DVD commentary track) that the original story isn't about female homoeroticism. Women in those days were always more affectionate than they are now as were men to a lesser degree. I think the "lesbian subtext" is more about wishful thinking on the part of horny men. However, the movie is more blatant in it's suggestiveness.
  • Sheridan Le Fanu's novel "Carmilla" is one of the best horror works ever made, one of the first about vampires and the first with lesbian vampires. "The Vampire Lovers" is a great Hammer film based on this novel. The cinematography is wonderful, a great gothic atmosphere and filming locations. The acting is great, mainly Ingrid Pitt playing Carmilla, great sex appeal. The scenes between the actresses are beautiful, an erotic horror tale!
  • "The Vampire Lovers" is easily among the greatest Hammer's productions ever made.This movie as well as "Lust for a Vampire" is based on J.Sheridan Le Fanu's often filmed novella "Carmilla".The last film of the trilogy "Twins of Evil" is less closely related to these two wonderful horror movies.Polish-born Ingrid Pitt plays Mircalla Karnstein alias Carmilla who,with the connivance of her mother,arranges to stay in a series of homes of young women with single fathers:first General Spielsdorf,and then Mr.Morton.The daughters,Laura Spielsdorf and Emma Morton each slowly becomes deathly pale and subject to bizarre nightmares as the vampiric Mircalla seduces them."The Vampire Lovers" offers a good deal of sensuality and lesbianism,so fans of classy exploitation films will be pleased.The few gore effects are effective and the visual look of the film is absolutely stunning.The location sets are shrouded in fog and the interiors of the various castles are genuinely impressive.So if you are a fan of erotic horror give this gem a look.Recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Excellent production values highlight this slow-moving Gothic horror yarn from Hammer in which all of the action is confined to the beginning and end of the movie. The middle part consists of lots of atmosphere building sequences which can feel laboured and do drag a little life from the film. It's the slow-paced nature of the tale which stops it from being a total Hammer classic, although it's still very good. It reminds me of Hammer's Dracula, which is also a slow moving tale as both films dwell on victims gradually falling weaker as they're preyed on by the vampire menace.

    On the plus side, the film contains lots of the same ethereal atmosphere (with scenes of nightdress-clad beauties wandering through mist-enshrouded countryside at night) as the films of French auteur Jean Rollin, and is very suspenseful and thrilling when it needs to be. It's just a shame that so much time is taken up with non-action as most of the leading men leave the film for the middle duration and the resulting women seduce and are victimised by each other. What we're left with are numerous scenes of Ingrid Pitt and Madeline Smith being naked which do get a little repetitive despite the premise.

    The film benefits from an extremely strong cast of British character actors. George Cole (taking a break from his usual comedy genre) stars as Roger Morton, whose beautiful daughter Emma (played by Madeline Smith, a regular young British beauty from the period) is seduced and preyed upon by the voluptuous Carmilla. Ingrid Pitt takes the lead in her first Hammer Horror appearance and makes for an unforgettably sexy vampiress, although she's romantic rather than scary. Kate O'Mara has a supporting role as a French governess although her role is limited and extraneous.

    Genre fans will be pleased to hear that Peter Cushing also has a small role in the film, and it is he who gets to confront Ingrid Pitt in explicitly gory scenes at the end of the film which make up for the non-action preceding those scenes. Despite playing a much different character, you can't help but see a flash of Van Helsing as Cushing does his duty. Cushing's authoritative performance is a highlight of the film. Supporting actors include Ferdy Mayne as the unfortunate family doctor, Douglas Wilmer as Baron von Hartog, an expert vampire killer who beheads his own sister in a gruesome opening scene, Dawn Addams as the briefly-seen Countess (her character unexplained and mysterious) and a very young-looking Jon Finch as the handsome young male lead. The familiar faces of Pippa Steele (who, despite dying, returns in the sequel) and John Forbes-Robertson (as the sinister "Man in Black" he is no less laughable here than his camped-up turn as Dracula in LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES) appear in minor roles, while Harvey Hall puts in an excellent turn as the loyal manservant Renton.

    The film's strength is in playing it all totally seriously, even the so-called "erotic sequences", with none of the tacky cheesiness which overwhelmed the sequel, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE. The film concentrates on the sex rather than the horror aspects with plenty of lesbian tension and Pitt wandering around in a low-cut dress for the entire course of the film. The violence, on the other hand, is limited to a couple of decapitations and some splashes of blood - admittedly colourful. The music is lyrical yet understated, the costumes immaculate and the ladies quite simply gorgeous. THE VAMPIRE LOVERS is a watchable Hammer film which is a must-see for fans, yet by not including any of the trademark excitement or style that another director would have brought to the movie it just misses 'total classic' status. I'm surprised to admit it, but Roy Ward Baker's journeyman direction is merely perfunctory.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    With the exception of Interview With the Vampire, it seems like the best vampire movies come out of Europe- Nosferatu and Vampyr from Germany, Let the Right One In from Sweden and the Hammer films from Britain. The Vampire Lovers is a Hammer horror film with a great deal of bite. It deals with the legendary lesbian vampire Carmilla, played in this version by Ingrid Pitt.

    From the female vampire who is quickly beheaded in the movie's prologue, The Vampire Lovers is filled with beautiful women. Chief among them is Pitt, whose eyes look both seductive and deadly. Carmilla feasts on nubile young virgins Laura and Emma. There's some great nudity, including in the scene where Carmilla is in the bath and Emma tries on a dress. Carmilla puts on a towel, but only around her hips, leaving her breasts still exposed. Gratuitous nudity? Well, the scene with the two half-naked women playfully chasing each other around the bedroom has a point: the lesbian eroticism is unmistakable.

    Beyond the erotic aspects of the film, The Vampire Lovers has what every vampire movie needs: good atmosphere with good sets and costumes, as well as mostly smooth dialogue and acting. At the same time, they had the good sense not to actually show the giant cat Carmilla morphs into; it probably would have made a terrible special effect. There are still questions, like if Carmilla's family was wiped out, where did the man in black and her "mother" come from? Probably just victims she made into vampires after the opening scene. My main regret is Carmilla dies at the end (gruesomely). Beyond that, I don't understand the problem people have with this film.

    Happy Halloween.
  • Hammer studio's 'The Vampire Lovers' is an durably crafted, highly unusual and sensually lusting period Gothic vampire tale in the tradition of Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Camellia'. Can you go wrong with the likes of horror icon Peter Cushing, striking buxom ladies in Ingrid Pitt (who really has an hypnotic pull when she puts the moves on the ladies), Pippa Steel, Kate O'Mara and Madeleine Smith tagging along for the enticingly nightmarish ride of flowing blood, screams from the bottom of the lungs, creeping bare skin and the undead of the night. Director Roy Ward Baker's (a Hammer veteran) tidily pastel display steadily moves along (which it could probably have used a little more spruce in the tactically taut story), as it breathes atmosphere with its sweeping orchestral score, focal photography and lushly detailed locations. The production looks top-notch, being earnestly staged with moments of visual suspense. Nothing beats its opening scenes, but after that it seems to concentrate on the dependable erotic tone of the story. A very commendable Hammer outing.
  • A (very) loose adaptation of the novella "Camilla". Starts right off with a bang when a female vampire being beheaded but that's about it for graphic violence. It's basically about a beautiful lesbian vampire (Ingrid Pitt) who is going after every young attractive woman around. That's about it for the plot.

    I have (vague) recollections about seeing this at a drive-in when I was 8! I do remember Pitt attacking some men and a pretty mild (for now) lesbian sequence which had quite a reaction from my parents--my mother was disgusted, my father was enjoying it and I couldn't figure out WHAT was going on! I figured they were just good friends. I remember liking it...but I was very young.

    Seeing it now it does have its moments. There are some very erotic, beautifully filmed sequences. There's next to no violence but there's plenty of female nudity. As a gay man I found this pretty dull. It contains the same overly familiar Hammer sets found in all their other films and has a pretty vague plot (who IS that guy in black on the horse?). Also a beheading at the end is SO obviously fake. On the positive side Peter Cushing is on hand to give another good performance and Pitt is very beautiful and is a pretty good actress--some of her expressions are priceless! And Jon Finch is handsome and hunky as the main hero.

    But, all in all, I was bored. The lesbian bits are tame by todays standards (I heard they were considered pretty extreme for 1970) and--unless you're interested in lesbian vampires or pointless female nudity--this is pretty dull stuff. I give it a 3 for some of the acting and good direction--but I can't recommend this.
  • Throughout the 60's and 70's, Hammer studios have created some of the finest and most loved horror highlights, and this is most certainly one of them. Ingrid Pitt stars as Marcilla, an attractive female vampire who travels from house to house, feeding on young women. Pitt approaches her role with gusto and it is obvious that she (and the rest of the cast) enjoyed themselves making this film. Marcilla comes undone when she stays in one house too many and the local townsfolk become suspicious of all the deaths and sickness in the village since her arrival. As is the case with a lot of Hammer films (and it is a case that I am thankful for), Peter Cushing also has a role. He plays General von Spielsdorf, a man that has his own reasons for wanting to hunt the vampire down. He's not in the film for long, not long enough in my opinion, but it's always nice to have him, regardless of how long his appearance lasts.

    The film opens with a lovely exhibition of atmosphere, which ends with a 'creature' being killed via a lovely decapitation sequence. From then on, it is obvious that you are in for a treat and the rest of the film doesn't disappoint. Although it does become a little dull at times, The Vampire Lovers retains a lot of what makes the vampire legend so enticing, while also bringing a lot of new elements to the table - most notably an erotic lesbian angle. The film is also very lively and very fun, most of which is brought on by the camp atmosphere, which is commonplace in a lot of Hammer's films. The acting isn't terribly brilliant, but it isn't bad either (although nobody will be going into this film expecting Oscar winning performances, of course). The Vampire Lovers also has one of Hammer's best directors on board; Roy Ward Barker, whom you might remember from another Hammer Horror highlight; Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, not to mention the excellent 'Asylum'.

    Overall, The Vampire Lovers is definitely recommended viewing for the horror fan, and essential viewing for the Hammer Horror fan. It's not the best vampire tale ever told, but there's a lot to like and I can't see many horror fans being dissatisfied with it. Good stuff indeed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Vampire Lovers" obviously broke some new territory in terms of eroticism and lesbian story elements, and I would say that it was very well acted (especially by Pittman), quite steamy in spots...and that the director and screenwriter deserved a lot of credit for trying something new.

    But, and this is a big but, after the gruesome and compelling opening scene, the movie slowed to a crawl.The screenplay just sat there, for long, long minutes, building atmosphere but not having anything overly interesting actually happen.

    And then there was a flurry of activity, and then...the same situation and setup repeated, almost note for note, for ANOTHER 20 minutes. Only this time Peter Cushing was out of the story. Even going through the motions in a character he's played many times, Cushing managed to light up a scene whenever he was on camera. With him gone the remaining cast, although filled with hardworking journeyman actors, simply couldn't keep things focused.

    Well, there was the whole lesbian vampire/"viper in the bosom" thing unfolding, but I'm way past the point in my life where boobs get me excited.

    And then in the last 15 minutes, every thing happened at once; Cushing and the rest of the "men heroes" charged to the rescue, and all was set right with the world. The payoff was...ALMOST...worth the wait.

    It sounds as if I thought the movie sucked. I don't. There are lots of things right with the movie. Pittman's character seemed to be capable of some complex, bittersweet emotions and wasn't just a simple predator, and I liked that. A vampire movie that didn't overuse the Dracula character was a nice change of pace - it's as if this was actually a Dracula "side story" that fleshed out part of the Hammer canon, and I liked that, too.

    But for me, the movie dragged in too many spots for too long to really be considered one the first rank of Hammer films. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.
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