Taste the deadly passion of the blood nymphs!
By Mark Voger, author, “Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972″
I have to share this. I can remember it like it was yesterday.
The year was 1970. I was 12. I was reading a review of “The Vampire Lovers” in the Philadelphia Bulletin. I wish I could remember the reviewer’s name. In careful language that I easily deciphered, the reviewer told me that this movie was chock-full of unclad lady vampires. He wrote — I swear this memory hasn’t been embellished in the fog of years — that in “The Vampire Lovers,” the preferred target of the vampires’ fangs had been lowered “from neck to nipple.”
As a 12-year-old, with the commensurate churning hormones, my first thought was: I must see this movie. But it was rated R. Your parents would have to take you. And who wants to go to a movie about unclad lady vampires with your parents?
A lifetime later, I finally saw Roy Ward Baker’s “The Vampire Lovers,” which I declare to be a movie that would blow the mind of a 12-year-old in 1970, but today is merely an okay Hammer Films vampire flick — albeit, considerably spiced up.
Ingrid Pitt stars as Marcilla, an alluring incognito vampire who inserts herself into the households of noblemen and corrupts their virginal daughters — first with girl-girl frolics, later with bared fangs.
Peter Cushing plays a general who vanishes for most of the movie and returns, Van Helsing-like, for the kill. I adore Cushing, but in “The Vampire Lovers,” he looks like he’s fighting the urge to glance at his watch.
George Cole — who played Alastair Sim as a young man in the classic 1951 “Scrooge” (“Then you must live forever, Fan!”) — plays a disbelieving nobleman. Busty, bow-lipped, saucer-eyed Madeline Smith, later a Bond girl, plays Marcilla’s favored victim.
This is, undisputably, past-its-prime Hammer. (When the novelty of Cushing and Christopher Lee began to fade, out came the bosoms.) But for a guy who wondered all his life about the erotic delights promised in “The Vampire Lovers,” it’s a relief to finally see what I was missing.