The Vampire Lovers
| 91 MINS | COLOUR | HAMMER |
In 1794, the sister of Baron von Hartog was killed by a vampire; a member of the terrible Karnstein clan. The Baron tracks the vampire girl to the ruins of castle Karnstein and kills her by decapitation.
It is now several years later. General Speilsdorf is throwing a birthday party for his niece, Laura. One of the guests is a Countessa's daughter, Marcilla. When the Countess is called away due to the death of a friend, Marcilla stays on and she and Laura become very good friends. Over time, Laura becomes ill, growing paler and paler until she dies. It is first thought that she was suffering from anaemia but then two puncture wounds are found on her breast. Marcilla has also disappeared.
Marcilla, now going by the name of Carmilla, inviegles her way into another family - the Mortons. Emma Morton and Carmilla become good friends and what happened to Laura now begins to happen to Emma. This time, the doctor knows what has to be done and he places garlic flowers around the room and a cross around Emma's neck. Emma's father is summoned from Vienna and on the way he meets up with General Spielsdorf, Baron Hartog, and Laura's ex-boyfriend, Carl. Baron Hartog takes them to Karnstein castle where he shows them a painting of Marcilla Karnstein. "Marcilla!" says General Spielsdorf. "Carmilla!" says Morton.
The three manage to find Carmilla's grave, where she sleeps. The General lifts a stake and drives it into her heart - he then cuts off her head. The portrait of Carmilla changes from a beautiful woman to that of a fanged skeleton.
Britishhorrorfilms: Vampire Lovers is a good film, not great, illuminated by the gorgeous Maddy Smith, the ever-dependable Cushing, a decent script and a few home truths about vampires.
Spookyisles: for those all too willing to dismiss the film as a product of 1970s desperation, you may be surprised, on reading Le Fanu’s source material, to discover just how faithful it is to the original story.
Oh-the-horror: Hammer fiends will certainly want to see the studio’s transition into the ‘70s, but The Vampire Lovers is more like a harbinger of the studio’s eventual death rattle.
Marcilla: You must die! Everybody must die!