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The Vampire Lovers

As Reviewed By Ron Prescott

Amidst all the recent (and well-deserved) hoopla regarding classic genre films being released uncut to DVD, there is one recent release that hasn?arnered much attention, but it is just as deserving as these other releases. The fact that it was only released to VHS accounts for most of it, and it? shame, because this is one that horror fans need to take notice of-the uncut European version of Hammer Film's THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. The restored footage doesn?mount to too much time-wise, but it? revelation if you?only seen the American version. The notable footage comes at the very beginning and very end, with the decapitations of this films?o female vampires becoming a bit more prominent, and a good deal gorier! The rest of the film is basically the same. It tells the story of Mircalla Karnstein, the vampire waif who comes to prey on the inhabitants of Stiria. Her first victim, played by Pippa Steele, succumbs rapidly to the nightly bouts of blood-letting. After her death, her father, General Spielsdorf (played by the great Peter Cushing), rides off in his grief to visit an old friend, the Baron Hartog. Meanwhile, a neighboring family has just taken in a young female guest, who begins to show an unhealthy interest in the young daughter of the patriarch, played by Madeline Smith. The cycle repeats itself?? THE VAMPIRE LOVERS took Hammer into a more adult arena, and while many people criticize this film as having a ?pshow??mosphere, I disagree strongly. I think the adult material is handled quite nicely, particularly the scene in which Ingrid Pitt seduces Kate O?a, who plays the governess. We also have a scene of Ingrid and Madeline Smith frolicking in a bedroom, which has an air of childlike innocence, mixed with something a bit more erotic. It isn?erely titillation that sells this film, however. This is a wonderfully atmospheric film as well, which is also complimented by Harry Robinson?xcellent music score. Top acting honors must go to Cushing and Pitt, the former bringing his customary excellence to the role, and the latter for her exotic, husky-voiced portrayal of Carmilla. Ms. Pitt?cting talents have gone underrated, with most people wanting to focus on her beauty. Truly a pity! I also must mention Harvey Hall, one of Hammer?ine character actors, who plays Renton the butler. As an interesting trivia note, he went on to star in the other two Karnstein films as well. See if you can spot him! All in all, a DVD release of this film would be preferable to the VHS version we have, but this tape still manages to look quite nice, and it also contains the theatrical trailer. Definitely a must-buy for any Hammer fan!

I agree with Ron's thought that this is a film that should enjoy a DVD release. I'm a bit partial to the classics and most notably, the Hammer films, but this is a great film and Ron hits on some of the best aspects of the film, too. Keep checking for the remaining two films in the, "Karnstein Trilogy" to be reviewed, as well.

Film Information:

The Vampire Lovers

Released: 1970

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Ingrid Pitt, George Cole, Kate O'Mara, Peter Cushing, Ferdy Mayne, Madeline Smith, Dawn Addams, Pippa Steele and Harvey Hall.

Run Time: 91 Minutes UNcut


Status: In Print-Video ONLY