THE VAMPIRE LOVERS is the first in a series of three vampire films to feature Hammer's Karnstein family. This tale follows the beautiful Carmilla Karnstein as she seduces the daughters of several of the town's nobility before draining them of their lives. The sexually charged story is filled with tight corsets, bustling beauties, and even a few bloody decapitations for good measure. Ingrid Pitt is electrifying as the sexy vampiress, attracting a sense of sadness and loneliness to an otherwise sensual performance. LOVERS offers a brilliant opening where a shrouded figure rises out of the mist and dances in the moonlight in what might be one of Hammer's most visually striking sequences. Unfortunately, this breathtaking moment dripping with moody atmosphere is never matched throughout the remainder of the production. The Karnstein films came as a direct response to the erotic Horror trend that was being produced out of both Spain and France, and they mark a decisive turn in the direction of the Hammer films of the time where soft-core imagery quickly began replacing many of the Horror elements. Baker does introduce more class and finesse to this offering than Franco instilled in his Spanish releases, but the film lacks the surreal qualities that made Jean Rollin's vampire efforts more successful.
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If you liked THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, check out:
LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, TWINS OF EVIL, VAMPYROS LESBOS.