Plot: A female vampire (Ingrid Pitt) is preying upon young women, leaving a trail of blood and death in her wake. She has many names, passing through villages being called Marcilla or Camilla, or even other names. She is known as Marcilla when she visits on the home of General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing), where she feeds on the General’s daughter in short order. At her next stop she is Carmilla and while she has the same idea in mind, she is caught off guard by her prospective victim. She finds herself drawn to Emma (Madeline Smith), the daughter of the household and her erotic desires cause her to lower her defenses. But her past is rapidly catching up with her, not to mention the events at her current location. Will Carmilla’s deadly secret be found out and if so, can she elude those who wish to end her vampiric existence?
Entertainment Value: This vampire romp was a Hammer production and it feels like one, a fun and atmospheric picture. I know some dismiss The Vampire Lovers because it is less serious and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But to me, it is such a fun movie and never fails to entertain. The lesbian angle has to be obscured, given the era, but it is still nice to see some vampire girls in love. The issues with the narrative are obvious, but also add camp value and that’s not bad. Like the scene where a vampire is desperate to get back a shroud…when already wearing a shroud. This adds humor and intentional or not, I don’t mind that kind of stuff. Plus we have a fun turn from Peter Cushing and a bevy of beautiful women, capped off by the legendary Ingrid Pitt. The Vampire Lovers is simply a fun, brisk vampire movie that is filled with beautiful naked girls. Fans of vampire cinema or Hammer in general should give it a look.
Ah, naked Ingrid Pitt. She is naked several times in The Vampire Lovers, including a full frontal view. But she isn’t the only topless woman in this one, as a few other nubile beauties reveal their assets also. The nudity is brief and non graphic, but its still nice to have hot vampire girls naked, right? There’s a good amount of blood, but again non graphic in nature. We see the fang puncture wounds, as well as the aftermath from various violence, but not much on screen bloodshed. But we do get an impalement and a nice decapitation, both courtesy of Peter Cushing. Not a lot of quotable lines, sadly. The Vampire Lovers might not make a lot of sense, but it is rather grounded and doesn’t push into the high level of camp or madness.
Overall Insanity: 2/10
The Disc: Scream Factory revisited The Vampire Lovers and issued a new Collector’s Edition, complete with a brand new 4k scan from the original camera negative. The new transfer alone warrants an upgrade for fans, as the movie looks spectacular in this treatment. The print looks nearly pristine, with minimal age related defects and no softness I could pick up on. The colors are impressive as well, with rich and vivid hues throughout, especially those deep reds. Another knockout visual upgrade from Scream Factory, fans will be beyond thrilled here. The extras include a audio commentary tracks, one with director Roy Ward Baker, star Ingrid Pitt, and writer Tudor Gates, while the other comments come from film historians and fans. You can also check out an interview with star Madeline Smith, a couple of featurettes on both this film and Hammer cinema in general, Ingrid Pitt reading Carmilla, a radio spot, a gallery of stills, and the film’s theatrical trailer.