The Vampire Lovers is a 1970 British gothic horror film directed by Roy Ward Baker. It was produced by Hammer Film Productions and American International Pictures.
It is based on the J. Sheridan Le Fanu novella Carmilla and is part of the so-called Karnstein Trilogy of films, the other films being Lust for a Vampire (1971) and Twins of Evil (1972). The three films were somewhat daring for the time in explicitly depicting lesbian vampire themes.
The film stars Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith, Kate O’Mara and Jon Finch.
Camilla (Ingrid Pitt) is a beautiful lesbian vampire with milky white skin and a thirst for the blood of pretty young virgins. When she attacks Laura (Pippa Steel), the daughter of General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing), the general enlists the help of Baron Joachim von Hartog (Douglas Wilmer) to overcome the vampiress and bring an end to the terror and bloodshed…
Before production, the script of The Vampire Lovers was sent to the chief censor John Trevelyan, who warned the studio about depictions of lesbianism, pointing out that a previous lesbian drama film, The Killing of Sister George, had had five minutes excised by his office. In response, Hammer replied that the lesbianism was not of their doing but was present in the original story by Le Fanu. Trevelyan backed down.
Produced on a relatively low budget of £165,227, it was the final Hammer film to be financed with American money—most of the later films were backed by Rank or EMI.
“This is a well-paced and slick looking film, with Roy Ward Baker at the top of his game, keeping the action moving at a good pace and balancing the macabre vampiric elements with enough sex to make crowds of the day stand up and take notice … There’s loads of atmosphere here, lots of great sets and period costumes and while the budget was low, comparatively speaking, all involved do a fine job of ensuring that every penny winds up there on the screen.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!
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“Bloody, sexy, funny, shocking, and delightfully campy, The Vampire Lovers is a masterpiece of over-the-top horror. Highly recommended.” Movies About Girls
“That it is essential viewing for the genre zealot almost goes without saying. That it is transgressive cinema beyond compare is unquestionable. Hammer may have made better films but never before or again did they present their audience with one so intensely elegant and provocative as The Vampire Lovers.” Tim Greaves, Ten Years of Terror
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