Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lust for a Vampire (1971)

Director: Jimmy Sangster

Starring: Ralph Bates, Suzanna Leigh, Michael Johnson, Yutte Stensgaard

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: A vampire's lust knows no boundaries...

Plot: In 1830, forty years to the day since the last manifestation of their dreaded vampirism, the Karnstein heirs use the blood of an innocent to bring forth the evil that is the beautiful Mircalla - or as she was in 1710, Carmilla. The nearby Finishing School offers rich pickings not only in in the blood of nubile young ladies but also with the headmaster who is desperate to become Mircalla's disciple, and the equally besotted and even more foolish author Richard Lestrange.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Yes, if for no other reason than Suzanna Leigh's fantastic performance!

#42 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

This is the second of Hammer's Karnstein Trilogy: after THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) and before TWINS OF EVIL (1971).

After the blast I had watching TVP, LUST pales a bit in comparison. There's eye candy but not like in TVP by a long shot. The film opens with a neat little set-up. Lestrange (Michael Johnson) is told by the townspeople not to go to the nearby castle for fear of vampires and such. Naturally, he goes. Upon his arrival he gets the shit scared out of him but it turns out to be an innocent finishing school for ripe, young girls. Niiiice.

"We love, adore and worship you Scorethefilm. We want to have your babies."

For me, the highlight of the film is actress Suzanna Leigh. She's absolutely magnificent, a truly wonderful actress. Her performance felt genuine and, I dare say, too good for this film. I was blown away.

There's a beautiful score by Harry Robertson. In the scene where Playfair discovers that Lestrange's sweetie is a vampire, Roberston uses the Dies Irae (Days of Wrath, a 13th century death hymn) in a nice, subtle way. The song, "Strange Love", is lovely as well. But you wouldn't think it reading the comments on IMDB. Boneheads.

My favorite scene is probably where Mircalla takes Playfair (Leigh) to her room (under hypnosis) to kill her since she suspects Mircalla to be a vampire and that she's also in love with Lestrange (Mircalla's man). Mircalla gently pulls down Playfair's dress over her breast to reveal a crucifix. Mircalla is repulsed by it, of course, glares her eyes forcing Playfair to snap out of it and swiftly exits the room leaving Playfair to figure out what has happened. Leigh wonderfully underplays it. The scene leaves you with a real dread that Playfair is definitely going to die. Very nicely done.


Mircalla dies a neat little death. She and her vampire family are trapped inside their flame-engulfed castle thanks to the angry townspeople mob outside. Lestrange goes in to save her. She approaches him with fangs fired up and just before the bite, he pushes her away. She's lying there hissing (as vampires are known to do) when a flaming ceiling cross beam breaks free and impales her! COOL!


The spoiler warning doesn't help much when there's a screenshot accompanying it, huh?

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE isn't as good as THE VAMPIRE LOVERS but it's still got more going for it than a lot of other Euro/erotic/lesbian/gothic/vampire movies of its time.

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