The Vampire Lovers was Hammer’s first and only co-production with Hollywood’s leading horror specialists – American International – who had been responsible for most of the Edgar Allan Poe pictures.
This film tapped a new source of classic horror literature, the work of J. Sheridan Le Fanu, and injected an audacious dose of sex into the proceedings.
The stunning Ingrid Pitt plays beautiful centuries-old female vampire Marcilla Karnstein (alias Carmilla) who has retained her youth and beauty.
Governed by Countess Karnstein (Dawn Addams) and a mysterious caped Dracula-like fellow known as the Man in Black (John Forbes-Robertson), Carmilla becomes a houseguest of General Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) and his young niece, Laura (Pippa Steele).
After recurring nightmares involving a huge feline, Laura grows increasingly ill and eventually dies, while a local doctor (Ferdy Mayne) discovers bite marks on her bosom.
Carmilla then seems to vanish into thin air. Moving on to the family of Roger Morton (George Cole), she continues her bloodlust afresh on his innocent and impressionable daughter Emma (Madeleine Smith).
Carmilla becomes obsessed with Emma, desperate for her love, and when Mr Morton leaves town for a while, the seductive vampiress turns the whole house upside down. Not only does Emma fall victim to Carmilla’s prolonged bloodletting and seduction, but so does the governess (Kate O’Mara) and the butler (Harvey Hall).
When Mr Morton returns, he is convinced that the ailing Emma is suffering from vampirism, but General Spielsdorf has coincidentally brought back Barton Hartog (Douglas Wilmer), who had hunted down the bloodthirsty Karnsteins years ago (the highly memorable prologue has Wilmer as a younger Hartog, slaying a lovely blonde temptress played by Kirsten Betts).
With the help of young heroic Carl Ebhardt (Jon Finch), the brave men set out to uncover Carmilla’s crypt and destroy her once and for all.
Two sequels were produced – Lust For A Vampire and Twins of Evil – although Pitt did not return for either film.
General von Spielsdorf
Baron Joachim von Hartog
Roy Ward Baker