Lesbian Vampires of the 1970’s were featuring on the silver screen thanks to the famous Hammer Horror studios.
All three of these films were simply mind blowing. Without further a do, allow me to begin introducing you to the Karnstein family of vampires.
Introduction to the lesbian vampires
These days, I suppose many will view the Karnstein trilogy of vampire movies as quite cheesy, and I suppose quite comical. Back then however, the content was ground breaking and I remember watching them in awe and disbelief. Of course, I should not be watching them as a teenager, but I did and they cemented my love of vampires.
Hammer Horror is another name for London’s, Hammer Film Productions Ltd. They are well known for creating Gothic horror from the mid 50’s until the 1970’s. Famous actors such as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing starred in many of these cult classics. In fact, Peter Cushing starred in one of these Karnstein films, The Twins of Evil.
So, allow me to introduce you to three of my favourite Hammer Horror movies, all of which are based on The Karnstein Family. In 1970, The Vampire Lovers starring the late and great Ingrid Pitt graced the silver screen.
The Vampire Lovers and Lesbian Vampires
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, which was first published in 1872, is a fascinating read and the basis of The Vampire Lovers. In my opinion, Hammer Horror were successful in bringing their adaptation of this wonderful story to life.
This lesbian vampire with the name of Carmilla Karnstein is young and strikingly beautiful.
Her character is portrayed by the one and only Ingrid Pitt who preys upon two females. Following the death of one of the females, we begin watching her relationship develop with Laura, played by Madeline Smith. Will she devour Laura and take her for all eternity?
An extract from Carmilla by Le Fanu
Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet overpowering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, “You are mine, you shall be mine, and you and I are one for ever”. (“Carmilla”, Chapter 4).>Carmilla Sheridan Le Fanu
Laura grows very close to Carmilla, not suspecting that Carmilla is a vampire. Perhaps it is because she can happily survive during daylight hours. At night, Laura suffers terrible encounters with a large black cat biting her bosom and drawing blood. She screams and unfortunately for her, she is told that it is just a bad dream. Later on in the story, the villagers reveal the history of the Karnstein vampires and we see Carmilla being staked and beheaded.
Hammer Horror Adaptation
What I adore about this film is the opening sequence. The tale of how Baron Joachim von Hartog played by Douglas Wilmer, began watching a Karnstein vampire rise from its tomb in a plume of smoke. The graphics are wonderfully haunting as we see the shroud covered figure, mysteriously gliding off out of the smoke filled graveyard. He then steals the vampires shroud knowing that the creature will not be able to rest without it.
Following its nightly feast, the vampire returns and he coaxes the vampire to him by revealing its shroud. When approached, Baron Joachim von Hartog is consumed by the vampires beautiful appearance. He cannot take his eyes off her naked body, which is showing beneath a see through gown. He is mesmerised until the vampire reveals its fangs. With one strike of his sword, we witness him decapitating the vampire in one go!
Lust for a Vampire
The Vampire Lovers was followed by the 1971 film, Lust for a Vampire and in this film, we see Yutte Stensgaard playing Carmilla.
This film is memorable for the orgasm scene because once seen, never forgotten. Watch the film! I really do not want to spoil this treat for you, especially if you like your lesbian vampires.
The third and final film (also 1971) in this trilogy is, The Twins of Evil but it does not feature the character Carmilla. Do not let that put you off watching one of the best hammer horror vampire films. Members of the Karnstein family are featured in this film but all eyes are on Madeleine Collinson’s portrayal of Frieda Gellhorn.
From reading the The Karnstein Trilogy over at Wikipedia, there is reference to the Karnstein vampires in the 1972 film .Vampire Circus. It is a shame that we never got to see what would have been the fourth film, The Vampire Virgins.
Finally, I have such a passion for vampires thanks to Hammer Horror. They always casted their vampires as beautiful women with heaving bosoms and scantily clad. Of course, the exception is Christopher Lee as Dracula! Ingrid Pitt plays Carmilla with such passion and will always be etched in my memory as a woman of beauty.