Despite some pretty famous hate from star Ralph Bates, who replaced the elder Peter Cushing, who'd bowed out of the production to tend to his ailing wife, Hammer's last minute swap of directors (Sangster for Terence Fischer), and Mike Raven's laughably dubbed, dollar store Christopher Lee portrayal of Count Karnstein, there's a lot to like about tonight's review, the studio's meaty follow up to The Vampire Lovers(1970), further exploring the ungodly acts and deeds of the Karnstein clan, and showcasing the loverly Yutte Stensgaard, a blonde any red-blooded man'd love to get his fangs into.
"This is one of the worst movies ever made, mate!", scoffs Giles (Ralph Bates).
After seeing a throaty young strumpet provide the red stuff in a sacrificial rite of resurrection, where her blood is poured over the veil-draped skeletal remains of none other than Carmilla Karnstein, we're then introduced to the aptly named Richard leStrange (Michael Johnson), a writer of lurid horror fiction, who lands himself a cushy gig at a nearby finishing school for girls, just as Countess Arritzen (Barbara Jefford) arrives on the scene, with her blood boilingly beautiful blonde niece, Mircalla (Yutte Stensgaard), in tow. Richard is instantly smitten with the mysterious young girl, as is the dusty headmaster, Giles Barton (Ralph Bates), who seems strangely acceptant when his frolicking young fillies start disappearing, one by one.
That's no stake in my trousers, I'm just glad to see Yutte.
It turns out that Barton is an aspiring student of the Black Arts, and through extensive grimoire research and love-born portrait sketches, he relates to Mircalla that she is, in fact, Carmilla, and pledges his servitude to the ageless predator, even hiding the lifeless body of one of her late night snacks down a well, and ultimately earning a fanged up neck-death for his blind loyalty. Meanwhile, Richard also blindly vows his love and allegiance to the vampire, who lets him dine on her instead of the usual eating arrangements we've grown accustomed to seeing (I'll be humming "Strange Love" the next time I'm performing cunnilingus, for sure). Further complicating matters, Janet (Suzanna Leigh) the gym teacher has inexplicably fallen in love with Richard, a guy she's barely talked to since he joined the staff. From here, it's bare breasts, bloody neck bites, Bishop-driven lynch mobs, and flaming castle support impalement. Ain't nothing wrong with any of that.
Look, it's Nick Frost, the 1830 variant. Cornetto?
Sadly, Yutte bowed out of the Hammer spotlight after her appearance here, feeling under-appreciated in the genre. Personally, I've always appreciated the Hell out of her small-but-impressive body of work. She'd even make a needlepoint video sexy. Lighter on the on-screen lesbianism than it's predecessor, but heavier with Hammer honeys like Pippa Steel, Lust is packed top to bottom with splashy blood and bursting bosoms, gothic sets you may recall seeing in other movies, like Scars of Dracula(1970), and is a ripper of a time to be had, in general. Twins of Evil (1972), another favorite of mine, came next. If you're on board for a true Hammer terror classic, you won't find it here, for sure, but it's still a classic in my book, exploitatively speaking, and well worthy of three Wops on the rating scale. Next up, I'll be taking center stage over at Theater of Guts to scrutinize some genre material, so you'll definitely want to check that out.
I wasn't down for this particular Count. Like, blah! Blah!