Not to start on the wrong footing but Jimmy Sangster addition to Karnstein Trilogy, is the weaker part of a very good trilogy of films. It doesn’t help that LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is more concerned with titlation. Yes it is playing to the audience but it lacks THE VAMPIRE LOVERS contortion or TWINS OF EVILS sultry menace. Its 1830. A woman is kidnapped. She is murdered and her blood splashed over the corpse of a long dead countess. Then we move to a finishing school in Styria. A mountain retreat. We greet a new student Mircalla (Yutte Stensgaard the cult Danish actress). She is not the only new arrival. Also new to town is visiting author, Richard Lestrange (Michael Johnson). He falls for Mircalla but is unaware that she is actually a vampire.
At this point LUST seems to settle into neutral. Coasting along and ticking off the expected. Carmilla Karnstein is the new arrival. We know this because we are fans and we have followed Hammer’s work. Screenwriter Tudor Gates (yes BARBARELLA, TWINS OF EVIL and THE VAMPIRE LOVERS pen man) slips away from the tighter plots and clever stylish plotting of his translations of the other books. Instead he falls into the audiences desire. Sex, Sex and more Sex. Now I am not a prude. But the lacklustre direction from Sangster really decays the barely passable script. Karnsteins story works best when it intersperse the good and evil narrative with a sprinkle of lesbian sex and sultry seduction. All of this said however, the film can be seen from the prism of a missed chance, a bad good film. A cult film for all those who know great Hammer films but know what has been left behind here. Bookended by two great films, this is a case of watch to complete and not to revere.
- Strange Love: Hammer in 1970
- Script to Screen: To Love a Vampire
- Judy Matheson interview