Film Review – LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971)

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971, UK) **
Horror
dist. Anglo-EMI Film Distributors; pr co. Hammer Films; d. Jimmy Sangster; w. Tudor Gates (based on characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu); pr. Harry Fine, Michael Style; ph. David Muir (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1, 1.66:1 (Blu-Ray release)); m. Harry Robertson (as Harry Robinson); m sup. Philip Martell; s. “Strange Love” m/l. Harry Robertson (as Harry Robinson), Frank Godwin (performed by Tracy); ed. Spencer Reeve; ad. Don Mingaye; cos. Laura Nightingale; m/up. George Blackler, Pearl Tipaldi; sd. Terry Poulton, Ron Barron (Mono (RCA Sound System)); rel. 17 January 1971 (UK), 2 September 1971 (USA); cert: 18; r/t. 95m.

cast: Barbara Jefford (Countess Herritzen), Ralph Bates (Giles Barton), Suzanna Leigh (Janet Playfair), Yutte Stensgaard (Mircalla / Carmilla Karnstein), Michael Johnson (Richard Lestrange), Helen Christie (Miss Simpson), Mike Raven (Count Karnstein), Christopher Cunningham (Coachman), Harvey Hall (Inspector Heinrich), Michael Brennan (Landlord), Pippa Steel (Susan Pelley), Judy Matheson (Amanda McBride), Caryl Little (Isabel Courtney), David Healy (Raymond Pelley), Jonathan Cecil (Arthur Biggs), Erik Chitty (Professor Herz), Jack Melford (Bishop), Christopher Neame (Hans), Kirsten Lindholm (Peasant Girl), Luan Peters (Trudi).

This is the second in Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy following 1970’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. It is 1830 and the vampire Carmilla (Stensgaard) is re-incarnated by her heirs (Jefford and Raven). Stensgaard (who has cunningly changed her name to Mircalla) joins the finishing school for girls run by Christie, at which Bates is a schoolmaster who becomes smitten with her. So to does Johnson, as an author assigned to the school. When Stensgaard returns Johnson’s advances a conflict arises between her feelings and her thirst for blood. This is the weakest of the trilogy, flatly handled by Sangster – who generates little in the way of thrills and shocks, which are here substituted by a heightened eroticism. One scene where Stensgaard seduces Matheson is accompanied by an appalling pop song, which destroys any sense of threat. The script is poor, with little wit and a by-the-numbers approach to its plot, merely replaying themes already visited in the first film with little new to offer. We even descend into a cliched angry mob finale. The acting is adequate at best, although Leigh deserves some plaudits for adding a sense of dignity to her schoolteacher character, who becomes suspicious of Stensgaard. Peter Cushing was initially cast in the Bates role, but had to drop out due to his wife’s illness. Sangster too replaced Terence Fisher who was originally slated to direct. US version runs 91m. Followed by TWINS OF EVIL (1971).

Film Review – ISLAND OF TERROR (1966)

Island of Terror (1966; UK; Eastmancolor; 86m) ∗∗  d. Terence Fisher; w. Edward Mann, Al Ramsen; ph. Reginald H. Wyer; m. Malcolm Lockyer.  Cast: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, Carole Gray, Eddie Byrne, Sam Kydd, Niall MacGinnis, James Caffrey, Liam Gaffney, Roger Heathcote, Keith Bell, Shay Gorman, Peter Forbes-Robertson, Richard Bidlake, Joyce Hemson, Edward Ogden. A scientist searching for a cure for cancer unleashes deadly bone-eating monsters on a tiny Irish island. Cushing manages to maintain his dignity in an otherwise overwrought and silly blend of sci-fi and horror. Judd is poor in the lead and the monsters are more comical than scary. One that respected director Fisher would have wanted to forget. [PG]