The year is 1830, so everyone wears big stuffy clothes, although because this is a finishing school in the ’70s, the women get topless from time to time in the exact same way that they don’t these days, ever since political correctness came in.
Before this, however, in 1710, a young woman was sacrificed and her blood given to a bag of bones in a coffin. Back then, the one doing the evil biting deeds was known as Carmilla Karnstein (Yutte Stensgaard), but in 1830, she’s regenerated into the same actress playing Mircalla, who wants to go round biting everyone to death in 1830.
Lust For A Vampire has a very slow start for the first 30 minutes, but once teacher Giles Barton (Ralph Bates) twigs who Mircalla really is, it starts to get more interesting.
What a great shame we lost Ralph Bates long before his time. He was only 51 when he died, but while he did a fair bit of drama, I still have a place in my heart for the sitcom Dear John, and it’s a shame it only lasted 2 series. In fact, also for Michael Johnson, who plays the debonair Richard Lestrange, he died aged only 61.
Yutte Stensgaard is still with us, but after this, she only made one more film – 1972’s Burke & Hare – before it became clear that directors were giving the work to more well-known actresses, and she quit and went to live in the USA selling advertising for a radio station. If only Ed Sheeran could be similarly ignored.
By the time the film’s just a shade more than half over, the main cast members mostly change, which felt jarring as it felt like I was watching a different film, and the whole thing feels like a complete mess. Meanwhile, there’s forever a Dracula-like figure wandering about. The extras confirm that Hammer wasn’t having the best of fortunes at the time of making this film, and it shows.
When it comes to the picture, although I knew that it was shot on film, so you can’t expect a perfect picture, this image is just about as perfect as you can get. Sometimes, a face is almost filling the screen and comes across as flawless. Yes, if you look in the background on a light surface, you can sometimes see the sort of shimmering effect you get on Arrow releases because that’s how old film stock movies can appear on modern releases, but that’s only going to be something noticed by a geek like me, and not someone who isn’t looking for it. Also, like a lot of movies shot on films, the opening credits can result in a slightly iffy picture because they’re at the start of the film reel, but get past that, and we have a bloody wonderful picture of which Studiocanal can be proud.
IMDB states the film has a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, but I’d bet my house on this Blu-ray print being the right ratio, as it’s in 1.66:1, so was most likely cropped top and bottom for a conventional 1.85:1 theatrical ratio.
The extras are as follows:
- Strangelove: Hammer In 1970 (23:36): Hammer Films were at a point in their existence when American backers had pulled out, and they were having to rely on British backers, as well as indie filmmakers.
We learn how just as filming began in 1970, the BBFC had raised the age limit for an X-certificate from 16 to 18, hence the studio was quite happy to randomly throw in female nudity, including a lot of topless women!
- Script To Screen: To Love A Vampire (8:00): As detailed in the first segment, the original title for this film was To Love A Vampire,
- Judy Matheson: Bride of the Vampire (16:19): The lady speaks!
- Stills gallery (7:38): A ton of pictures, changing every 4-5 seconds.
Lust For A Vampire is out now on Blu-ray/DVD Double Pack.
Running time: 96 minutes
Released: August 12th 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 2.0
Languages: English, German
Subtitles: English, German
Widescreen: 1.66:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50 & DVD9
Director: Jimmy Sangster
Producers: Harry Fine, Michael Style
Screenplay: Tudor Gates
Characters: J Sheridan Le Fanu
Music: Harry Robinson
Countess Herritzen: Barbara Jefford
Giles Barton: Ralph Bates
Janet Playfair: Suzanna Leigh
Mircalla / Carmilla Karnstein: Yutte Stensgaard
Richard Lestrange: Michael Johnson
Miss Simpson: Helen Christie
Count Karnstein: Mike Raven
Coachman: Christopher Cunningham
Inspector Heinrich: Harvey Hall
Landlord: Michael Brennan
Susan Pelley: Pippa Steel
Amanda McBride: Judy Matheson
Isabel Courtney: Caryl Little
Raymond Pelley: David Healy
Arthur Biggs: Jonathan Cecil
Professor Herz; Eric Chitty
Bishop: Jack Melford
Hans: Christopher Neame
Peasant Girl: Kirsten Lindholm
Trudi: Luan Peters
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.