Movie Reviews 77 – Lust for a Vampire (1971)

Here’s a rarity. A Hammer studios vampire horror movie that features neither Peter Cushing nor Christopher Lee (well, more on that later). But fear not, for as the title alone suggests, they make up for it with their other trademarks, namely a bevy of beauties and boobies.

A young author researching a book on the black arts is drawn to Karnstein castle where he has a strange encounter on his first visit. When he finds out that the castle is right next to a finishing school of young women that like to prance and dance on the school grounds (apparently gym class was held outdoors in the Victorian age), he tricks the English teacher into going away and then immediately offers his services as an English teacher (the sly dog). Things get even more mysterious when a new beautiful student arrives that same day. The author quickly falls for the newly arrived Mircalla. Little does he know that she was recently resurrected by Count Karnstein and the Countess and is in fact the infamous Carmilla Karnstein, carrying on the family vampiric curse.

As the bodies start turning up in the village (you expected otherwise?) it is only with the help of a dim-witted school mistress who wants to keep the evidence piling up under wraps to maintain the school’s reputation that allows Mircalla to keep ahead of the law and the townsfolk. Despite the easily recognizable signs that his new girlfriend has issues, even her beau has to be convinced by the physical education teacher, yet another resident beauty at the school, that Mircalla is a vampire. In the end the cops are onto her, her boyfriend is onto her, and well the whole town is onto her.

Oh yes. I mentioned earlier that this movie does not feature Christopher Lee yet when they show a closeup of Count Karnstein’s eyes, I could have sworn that it was a shot of Lee’s iconic ‘bloody eyes’. Researching the matter later, I discovered that I was right. Sadly, this was one of the few truly horrifying scenes. Other than that, I would rate it as a tame Hammer film. And I should point out one other notable oddity that you just don’t expect with Hammer films. This one has a tendency to break out into a few short musical sequences. Now that IS shocking!

Just prior to posting this I found out that this movie is considered a part of a trilogy that includes “The Vampire Lovers” (1970) and “Twins of Evil” (1971). I can see it fitting in with the much superior Vampire Lovers (a must see for Hammer fans), but I have yet to get my hands on Twins of Evil. Ironically, it was an ad for the newly released “Twins of Evil” that clued me in on the trilogy.


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2 Responses to “Movie Reviews 77 – Lust for a Vampire (1971)”

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