review for The Vampire Lovers on AllMovie

The Vampire Lovers (1970)
by Donald Guarisco review

This Hammer Films production isn't their finest moment but its easy to understand why it has become an enduring cult favorite with horror fans: The Vampire Lovers pushes the "bloodshed & bosoms" formula of the Hammer hits to its limit, replaces the usual Christopher Lee-style masculine vampire with a curvy female vamp and plays up its source story's lesbian theme for an extra bit of prurient spice. It is neither as shocking or scary as it might have once been but the film still remains worth the time of horror fans for a few reasons. Director Roy Ward Baker creates a strong gothic atmosphere (especially in the vampire-hunt scenes that frame the narrative) and the combination of gorgeous period decor and Harry Robinson's blood-and-thunder musical score create a perfectly spooky backdrop for this tale. However, the key element of The Vampire Lovers is Ingrid Pitt's attention-grabbing performance as Carmilla: she delivers the erotic charge the role requires but also brings a tragic loneliness to the part that gives the film a welcome dramatic edge. Old-school horror fans will also be pleased by Peter Cushing's reliably strong work as the vengeful father of Carmilla's first victim. In the end, The Vampire Lovers is an entertaining, memorably sexy addition to the vampire mythos and well worth a look to fans of gothic chills.