Friday, February 5, 2010

Vampire Lovers (1970)

1970 saw a transition in vampire films that was characterized by one critic as being "sexy but uncertain" noting that the object of the fangs had tranferred from "neck to nipple." The idea was that monster movies couldn't make a go of it without resorting to quasi-pornography and maybe he was right. Nothing sold (or sells) "horror" like sex.

Of course, this was nothing new for Hammer Film fans. We had happily suffered through one preachy performance after another by Peter Cushing's Dr. Van Helsing, because we knew it was a necessary sacrifice on the great actor's part to justify all that heaving cleavage. It was an old formula for getting soft porn past censors. Tell people how bad something is and then show it in graphic detail. Wonderful!

While film genius Jess Franco would enter the fray with the classic Vampyros Lesbos the the mystical Soledad Miranda, who was unquestionably in a class all by herself, Hammer turned to reliable film predator Ingrid Pitt to pull off the uber-butch lesbian vamp. In Vampire Lovers she had a choice among several beauties but it was her open seduction of Maddy Smith, famed for the comic turn, wide-eyed look of innocence, and gravity-defying breasts, that caught and held our attention.

For her part, it was Maddy who stole the vamping scene by turning her eyes toward the ceiling as if to say, "Beige, I think I'll paint it beige" and making all Ingrid's hard work look like the amateurish fumblings of a bridegroom on the wedding night. I almost expected Maddy to query afterwards, "All done, darling?"

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