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The Vampire Lovers: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

“The Vampire Lovers” is a top tier Hammer horror film.

Based on the novella “Carmilla,” “The Vampire Lovers” begins with Baron Hartog decapitating a vampire woman. We later learn that the Baron has wiped out the Karnstein family of vampires except for one female vampire he couldn’t find. Years later, that missing vampire woman resurfaces and works with a Countess and a mysterious man to seduce and feast on unsuspecting victims. The vampire woman (both known as Marcilla and Carmilla) has her sights set on a young redhead named Emma next. Can Emma be saved by a group of vampire hunters including Barton Hartog or is she doomed to die?

A lot of Hammer horror films are merely take offs on other horror projects (namely Universal Monster movies), but with 1970’s “The Vampire Lovers,” the studio went a different route and adapted a literary work (albeit one with more sex and violence). Directed by Roy Ward Baker and scripted by Tudor Gates, this erotic Gothic horror film is dripping with atmosphere thanks to the quality production values, costumes and location shooting. There’s an almost dreamlike vibe to this movie as it takes the vampire mythology into a unique direction. Yes, there’s hints of “Dracula” here to be sure, but at its core this is an ahead of its time horror film about seduction, lesbianism, and love.

There are a few elements that don’t quite work here. The huge cat nightmares are particularly odd and the man in black on horseback is never addressed. At the same time, the mysterious nature of them turns out to be rather compelling in the end.

 Cast wise, there are several notable performances here. The always reliable Peter Cushing excels in his role as The General. Ingrid Pitt is divine as Carmilla/Marcilla. Madeline Smith is enchanting as Emma and the underrated Kate O’Mara classes up the movie as the Governess.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The print has been given a 4K scan of the original camera negative and the result is absolutely gorgeous. Some scenes look so colorful that you’d never guess it was from the 70’s.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? From the music to the dialogue, this is a satisfactory Mono track.

Extras:
* Theatrical trailer and radio spot.
* A “Trailers From Hell” segment on “The Vampire Lovers” by filmmaker Mick Garris
* Image gallery
* A deleted scene
* “The Rapture Of Cruelty: Carmilla In Classic Cinema”- An audio essay.
* 2003 audio of Ingrid Pitt reading passages from “Carmilla.”
* “New Blood: Hammer Enters The 70’s”- A featurette on Hammer Horror in the 70’s.
* “Feminine Fantastique: Resurrecting The Vampire Lovers”- A featurette on the making of Hammer’s adaptation of “Carmilla” into “The Vampire Lovers.”
* An interview with actress Madeline Smith (who played Emma). Smith also does an introduction video which contains stories about the making of the film.
* “Fangs For The Memories: Remembering The Vampire Lovers”- An interview with film historian Jonathan Rigby who talks about the film’s history.
* “Carnal Crimson- Kim Newman On The Carmilla Legend”- The title says it all.

January 7, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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