‘The Vampire Lovers’ (1970)

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.”

Horror movie still or lingerie ad?
Horror movie still or lingerie ad?

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.

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