Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom, 1970. Hammer Films. Screenplay by Tudor Gates, adaptation by Harry Fine, Tudor Gates, Michael Style, based on the story Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. Cinematography by Moray Grant. Produced by Harry Fine, Michael Style. Music by Harry Robertson. Production Design by Scott MacGregor. Costume Design by Brian Cox. Film Editing by James Needs.
Hammer adapts Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla with Ingrid Pitt as the irresistible stranger who works her way into the houses of noble young women and slowly drinks their blood. Years after her kind were destroyed by a vampire hunter, Pitt continues to haunt the landscape, living as an honoured guest first in the home of Peter Cushing and killing his daughter, before moving into George Cole‘s estate and working her dark magic on his beautiful maiden; this time the girl has a protectress in the form of her French governess (Kate O’Mara), but perhaps Pitt can seduce her to her wicked ways as well. The village, meanwhile, is aware that a monster is on the loose because someone has been sating themselves on their girls. The steamy lesbian sexuality, meant to draw in a more modern crowd, looks like something in a Radley Metzer movie, women kissing each other while trying not to mess up their lipstick, while the addition of far more nudity than was common in the studio’s output shows them seeming to be a bit anxious to bring back the audiences that attended their films in greater numbers a decade earlier. Not a bad marketing ploy, as the film has far more beautiful women than it can handle (and Pitt is always the most stunning of them all), but it tells its tale in the same manner of tongue-in-cheek silliness that Roger Corman did in his Vincent Price films and is as scary, and of course as delightful, as a house decorated ghoulishly for Halloween.