Friday, October 26, 2012

October Challenge: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

The Vampire Lovers (1970) & Lust for a Vampire (1971)

I debated on whether or not to do this one.  Obviously I have seen this movie many times given the postings I have made about it and the effects it has had on my game.  In fact it is second only to Dracula in terms of how much I have read and seen this.

I decided to sit down and watch it again, this time while listening to the audio commentary  since I had seen so many Carmilla-based movies this year.

Back in June of 2011 I mentioned how this movie is like a perfect storm for topics here at the Other Side.
Based on the original novel, it is Hammer, has Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Kata O'Mara, Pippa Steele and Madeline Smith, there is even a Faux Dracula (John Forbes-Robertson as Dracula looking exactly like he will look in Hammer's "Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires").

The movie is actually fairly close to the book.  Enough that if you read the book and see the movie you will notice more of similarities rather than the differences.

The movie should be familiar ground to any horror fan by now.  Young girl Emma makes a new friend, Carmilla, soon after another one of her friends dies.  Soon Emma begins to weaken and only do the men of the tale suspect that Carmilla may be to blame.  Vampire hunt follows.  This movie though somehow makes due with this simple story really.  I am giving it the benefit of the doubt of having been based on the work that created this kind of story; but the movie holds up rather well.  Even under repeated viewings I have not grown tired of it.

Now here there is no doubt that Carmilla is supposed to be evil.  She casually uses and tosses away Mdme. Perrodot (Kate O'Mara) and she did kill Laura (Pippa Steele) but yet to me there is something underneath all of this.  Carmilla is still a tragic figure.  She was damned, but maybe the least of the damned.  Not as much as in the novella, but it is there.

Now taken as part of the Hammer Karnstien Trilogy, this is obviously the best of the lot.  The others are good bloody fun, but there is a much better story here.  Also the characterization of Carmilla is much more nuanced here.  I also think that is due to a better story and better acting ability by Ingrid Pitt.  Again I am publicly calling for a new Carmilla movie.  I know that Styia is coming out next year, and it looks good, but I think I want a period piece again.

Also I feel I should comment on the poster.  WTF?  I am not sure what movie that poster is for but none of that happened in the movie.

I also decided to rewatch Lust for a Vampire (1971), the second movie of the Karnstien Trilogy.

It had been a long time since I had seen this one. I forgot about the overt Satanism, but it was Hammer in 71 so that is no surprise.  Mind you I don't mind that, it works for Dracula, but Carmilla?  I am not quite seeing it.  Now to be fair I DO see it for the Karnstiens as a family.  Let's be honest though, this is the least of this movies problems.

Once again we get a near-Christopher Lee as an almost-Dracula. Heck they actually used Chris' famous red eyes from Scars of Dracula.  This time he is in charge of the Satanic ritual that brings Carmilla/Mircalla back from the dead 40 years (1830, prime time for GoA) after the first movie.  Gone is the hair "color a rich very dark brown", Carmilla is now a blonde.  Maybe it was the peasant girl she ate.  BTW the Peasant Girl in this movie was the first vampire killed in TVL and one of the first "witches" burned in "ToE".

 The movie though goes downhill, story wise from here.  We get the involvement an author, Richard Lestrange (who's family will later go on to support the Dark Lord) who gets a job at a local girl's finishing school where Carmilla is now a student. It's an oldie but a goodie and I have used it myself.
The rest follows the well worn paths of Hammer lore.  People die, some people think there is a vampire, others don't. Compared with Vampire Lovers this one feels like the cast was still standing around after the last movie stopped so they decided to do another one.

With TVL and the book Carmilla, you felt that Carmilla was a victim of her circumstance as much as she was the villain. Here you don't get any of that nuance. In fact Carmilla is more interested in Lestrange than her roomate!  What is up with that?

This was not one of Hammer's better films.  What gets me the most is that there are a lot of good elements to this movie and some great ideas, just strung together rather poorly.

In a related movie I have seen, but not reviewed the related "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter". That was an enjoyable film. (Not counting it for this Challenge)

Tally: Watched 28, New 20

Given the influence of this film, here is a links sections to other posts here.


Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (off site links)

What are you watching?


Stelios V. Perdios said...

You'll probably get your wish about Carmilla movie remakes. Hollywood is always recycling ideas. I, myself, just sort of cringe whenever I hear that a remake is being done, especially in the horror and fantasy genres. Just take a look at The Wickerman (2006), and compare it with the 1973 original.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well Wickerman (2006) is completely unwatchable. I am hoping for a GOOD remake.