Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Vampire Lovers - Scream Factory Blu-ray Review

If you dare...taste the deadly passion of the blood-nymphs!

Year: 1970
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Tudor Gates
Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith, Peter Cushing

"A female vampire with lesbian tendencies ravages the young girls and townsfolk of a peaceful hamlet in eighteenth century Europe who, years earlier, killed off her fellow vampires. A rousing hunt for the vampiress ensues as a group of men follow her bloody trail of terror through the countryside. Adapted from J. Sheridan LeFanu's novella "Carmilla," The Vampire Lovers stars Ingrid Pitt, George Cole and Peter Cushing."

Coming April 30th from Shout! Factory's Scream Factory line is the Blu-ray debut of The Vampire Lovers, the 1970 Hammer film directed by Roy Ward Baker which stars the beautiful Madeline Smith, Ingrid Pitt and the not quite as beautiful Peter Cushing. Cushing in a Hammer vampire film, what?! This was originally released by MGM in 2003 under their beloved Midnite Movies line, paired up as a double feature with Countess Dracula. Despite the fact that I own the MGM DVD - and have since 2003, this was actually my first viewing of The Vampire Lovers.

Ingrid Pitt's Mircalla Karnstein (also Marcilla and Carmilla) makes for a hell of a lesbian vampire. Immensely sexy, but also quite menacing when it comes time for her to vamp out. The scenes of Ingrid seducing her female castmates are more erotic than a thousand 70's porn films. Madeline Smith is also very good as Emma, the object of Mircalla's desire. Peter Cushing was one of the all-time great vampire killers, and while his role in the film is pretty small, when it comes time to get to work, Pete does not disappoint.

Overall, it is a pretty slow moving at times, but it's a visually arresting lesbian vampire film with some mostly great performances from Madeline Smith and Ingrid Pitt. Ingrid was Polish, so her accent does make some of her dialogue sound a little bit awkward at times, but she's still very good overall. The atmosphere is exquisite, the shots of the cemetery with fog slowly rolling past the grave stones are just stunning. The Vampire Lovers is a well acted, beautifully shot Gothic horror classic. It's quite good, if you enjoyed other Hammer vampire films like Brides of Dracula, Vampire Circus or Twins of Evil (also part of the Karnstein trilogy with Lovers and Lust for a Vampire) check it out.

Some light, though still rather erotic vampiric lesbianism and ample amounts of cleavage. Not actually much in the way of nudity, only about a minute or so, but the full frontal (and backal) nudity from Ingrid will certainly get your attention.

Most of the carnage here is of the "trickle of vampire bite blood" variety, but there are a couple of brutal decapitations (can you gently decapitate someone?) and a splattery vamp staking - though the stake appears to have been driven into the stomach of the vampire, not the heart. Eh, stake them somewhere in the torso, it'll be fine. Vampires are allergic to wood as long as it's inserted somewhere in their torsos, I guess. I'd give it a 3/10 on the Goremeter.

Things to watch for:
Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Tit
Top-notch fang craftsmanship
More cleavage than a Russ Meyer film

The extras from the old MGM disc are carried over here; an Audio Commentary With Ingrid Pitt, Director Roy Ward Baker and Screenwriter Tudor Gates,"Carmilla" Excerpts Read by Ingrid Pitt, and the Original Theatrical Trailer. New to Scream Factory's Blu-ray is a 10-minute featurette "Femenine Fantastique: Resurrecting the Vampire Lovers" from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. Up next is "Madeline Smith: Vampire Lover" a 20-minute interview with the star. There's also a lengthy photo gallery (8-minutes, lengthy for a photo gallery at least) with loads of behind the scenes pics and posters. A lot of Scream Factory releases have reversible cover art, no so with this release. You do get the awesome original (though highly inaccurate) poster art on the cover though, so that's pretty sweet.

The 1080p HD picture is quite gorgeous and really shows off the lavish set design and the onslaught of absurdly beautiful women and their varying degrees of exposed flesh. The English DTS Master Audio mono track sounds great as, I have no complaints with the A/V Quality of this release. Really, it's a pretty great movie, with a great transfer, and plenty of fascinating and informative extra features, Hammer fans, and classic Gothic vampire fans should be sure to add this one to their collection.

Street date is April 30th, preorder now directly from Scream Factory.

1 comment:

Rj Durkin said...

Hello you got a great horror blog here! The print on Scream Factory's Vampire Lovers Blue-ray looks like total crap. They could have found a better print than the snow flecked, scratched,and dirty assed print they choose to release. It's a SHAME! My friend Murphy from Basement screams referred your blog to me. My name is RJ and I have a horror film/art blog called ( if you care to check it out! Thanx!


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