The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Movie Title: The Vampire Lovers

Year Released: 1970

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 31min

Genre: Horror

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Writer: Tudor Gates (based on the story "Carmilla" by J. Sheridan Le Fanu)

Starring: Ingrid Pitt, Pippa Steel, Madeline Smith, Peter Cushing, George Cole, Dawn Addams, Kate O'Mara, Douglas Wilmer, Jon Finch, Ferdy Mayne, Kirsten Lindholm, John Forbes-Robertson, Shelagh Wilcocks, Harvey Hall,

Review: When a seductive female vampire (Ingrid Pitt) arrives in a peaceful European village, the townspeople begin to fall victim to her insatiable appetite; especially the young ladies. But once the fanged femme fatale meets the beautiful and innocent Emma (Madeline Smith) she is drawn to her more than anyone else before. Is it love, lust, or a passionate ploy for plasma? You're sure to find out in this hit hot-blooded Hammer horror-show know as The Vampire Lovers.

The Vampire Lovers was a turning point for Hammer Films. It was the start of the 1970s and the studio decided to add nudity, sex, and graphic gore, to this, and future features, in order to appeal to the current horror crowd - and it was a big success!

One of the biggest contributing factors to the film's success was the erotic and risque relationship between the characters played by stars Ingrid Pitt and Madeline Smith. They not only showcase their bodies, but also a lesbian relationship that audiences were not accustomed to seeing in film, especially in horror. Pitt's voluptuous vamp snacks on plenty of young ladies throughout the picture, but it's Smith's Emma that she begins to have true feelings for. And the character of Emma is wide-eyed and naive to the world and to her feelings toward her new friend. She's confused, but interested. And soon may accept or regret letting this supernatural creature into her life... and her bed.

Peter Cushing is not in the movie enough for my money, but he does his best as a father seeking vengeance on the vamp that drained his little girl dry. And the rest of the cast does their best to keep things serious and spooky. The movie also has a creepy atmosphere that definitely helps to set the mood, mystery, and murderous mayhem that will ensue as this vampire puts the bite on all villagers that happen to stick their necks out. And for a movie that could be campy or sleazy, director Roy Ward Baker really adds class with wonderful gothic look, chilling mood, and not lingering too much the nudity and sex, but using it to, if you'll excuse the term, flesh-out the characters and the tension between them.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed The Vampire Lovers, not just for what you'd expect from the subject matter. It's a clever cult classic that has a little more going on than just exsanguinations and eroticism. It's cheesy at times and chilling in others, but it's fun, frightening, and packed full of deadly passionate blood-nymphs that are sure to get your blood boiling.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: This film was given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America due to the vampire bites inflicted on the women's bosoms. Ooh, kinky!


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