THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) Reviews and Scream Factory Blu-ray news

 

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The Vampire Lovers is being released by Scream Factory on a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, newly scanned in 4K from the original camera negative, on December 21st 2021. Special features:

Audio commentary by film historians Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr (new)
Audio commentary by director Roy Ward Baker, screenwriter Tudor Gates, and actress Ingrid Pitt
Audio commentary by film historians Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby
Introduction by actress Madeline Smith (new)
The Rapture of Cruelty: Carmilla in Classic Cinema – Audio essay read by actress Madeline Smith (new)
Carnal Crimson – Film historian Kim Newman on the Carmilla legend (new)
Fangs for the Memories – Film historian Jonathan Rigby on The Vampire Lovers (new)
Interview with actress Madeline Smith
Carmilla reading by actress Ingrid Pitt
Feminine Fantastique – Resurrecting The Vampire Lovers
New Blood: Hammer Enters The ‘70
Deleted shot from opening beheading
Trailers From Hell: Mick Garris on The Vampire Lovers
Theatrical trailer
Radio spots
Galleries – stills, behind-the-scenes photos, posters, and lobby cards
New cover artwork by Mark Maddox with the original poster on the reverse side.

Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of The Vampire Lovers:

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The Vampire Lovers is a 1970 British gothic horror film based around seductive Carmilla who targets a noble family in 18th century Europe.

Directed by Roy Ward Baker from a screenplay by Tudor Gates who developed the project in conjunction with Harry Fine and Michael Style and brought it to Hammer. It is loosely based on the J. Sheridan Le Fanu novella Carmilla.

The film 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 sapphic vampire themes.

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The Hammer Film Productions-American International Pictures co-production stars Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith, Kate O’Mara and Jon Finch.

Plot:

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…

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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 sapphic drama film, The Killing of Sister George, had had five minutes excised by his office. In response, Hammer replied that lesbianism was not of their doing but was present in the original story by Le Fanu. Trevelyan backed down.

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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.

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Reviews:

“Some may be drawn to this film simply due to its perceived camp value, but there’s something kind of oddly enticing lurking just beneath the copious amounts of hammy acting and naked flesh that may appeal to those without a hint of post-modern irony in their souls.” Blu-ray.com

Vampire Lovers is a good film, not great, illuminated by the gorgeous Maddy Smith, the ever-dependable Cushing, a decent script and a few home truths about vampires. Much like Dracula in the original book, Mircalla walks around in sunlight, is afraid of just garlic and crosses, nothing more, and doesn’t have recourse to coffins. Refreshingly, she doesn’t even like funerals.” British Horror Films

“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.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

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Vampire Lovers Final Cut Blu-ray

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

“Bloody, sexy, funny, shocking, and delightfully campy, The Vampire Lovers is a masterpiece of over-the-top horror. Highly recommended.” Movies About Girls

“Despite a thin atmosphere, director Roy Ward Baker does manage to stage one or two memorable moments: with a defiant swish of her gown, Carmilla becomes a tearful, glimmering shade through which Jon Finch’s dagger passes, shattering a vase; and her subsequent beheading by Peter Cushing is the stuff of iconic Hammer Horror.” The Spooky Isles

“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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Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

“Polish beauty Ingrid Pitt delivers an entrancing performance as the seductive Mircalla, a statuesque figure combining icy stoicism with sultry eroticism. Stalwart genre icon Cushing is underused here but does get to partake in some nice stake-through-the-heart action in the decent climax.” The Terror Trap

” …it is well mounted and enjoyable, with solid performances: the pre-credits sequence, in particular, has a dreamy beauty. But some of the action is a bit flat, and overall it marks the point at which vampirism in British movies became so overtly erotic that the films virtually ceased to be about anything except sex.” Time Out

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The Vampire + Bat People + Screaming Skull + Vampire Lovers

Buy The Vampire + The Bat People + The Screaming Skull + The Vampire Lovers from Amazon.co.uk

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Cast and characters:

Ingrid Pitt … Marcilla / Carmilla / Mircalla Karnstein
Pippa Steel … Laura (as Pippa Steele)
Madeline Smith … Emma Morton
Peter Cushing … General von Spielsdorf
George Cole … Roger Morton
Dawn Addams … The Countess
Kate O’Mara … The Governess (Mme. Perrodot)
Douglas Wilmer … Baron Joachim von Hartog
Jon Finch … Carl Ebhardt
Ferdy Mayne … Doctor
Kirsten Lindholm … First Vampire (as Kirsten Betts)
John Forbes-Robertson … Man in Black
Shelagh Wilcocks … Housekeeper
Harvey Hall … Renton
Janet Key … Gretchin
Charles Farrell … Landlord
Graham James … First Young Man
Tom Browne … Second Young Man
Joanna Shelley … Woodman’s Daughter
Olga Anthony … Village Girl (as Olga James)
Jill Easter … Woodman’s Wife (uncredited)
Sion Probert … Young Man In Tavern (uncredited)
Vicki Woolf … Landlords Daughter (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Production began at Elstree Studios on 19 January 1970 and used locations in the grounds of Moor Park Mansion, Moor Park, Hertfordshire (standing in for Styria, Central Europe).

Technical details:

91 minutes
Technicolor
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

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