The Vampire Lovers Review
In college I took a literature class called "Genre Fiction" and the whole class was about horror related fiction and non fiction. One of the books we read was the classic "Dracula" by Bram Stoker. Alongside the introduction of the book and our discussion on vampirism, we watched several vampire movies, and the most intriguing of them was a movie from the Hammer Movie Collection entitled, The Vampire Lovers. I recently watched it again, and I now present for your reading displeasure, a review of the movie The Vampire Lovers.
The Vampire Lovers is a movie that revolves around a 19th century mansion where a beautiful young woman comes to stay with a local wealthy man and his family. Her extended stay causes a woman to become sick, and as her condition worsens, a clear vampiristic scenario emerges into being.
The team of vampire slayers create an awesome team to root for. They eventually start figuring things out and they find the coffins of the undead and they start slaying each vampire one by one with wooden spikes and the blood effects are awesome! The blood is so bright and pours slowly, and creates another awesome effect in this film.
The nudity is not traditional either. I mean, the nudity shows woman who are not enhanced at all. Their breasts and bodies are all natural, and that's a shock to my system. I'm not that old, so this woman that they are depicting as beautiful has curves, and has non enhanced breasts! What is wrong with them! I kid. I found these women beautiful, and interesting to note that women's bodies have changed over the years. Also, I noted that the age of these women were not young at all. I could tell, don't ask how, that these were experienced actresses and were not just out of college or trained from birth to look pretty, they actually tried to act! WOW!
Here is a trailer for the movie The Vampire Lovers:
The first thing I noticed about this movie was the fact that it had a lot of lavish sets. These sets are not traditional movie sets, they look like stage play sets and are meticulously designed and crafted. The cameras take full advantage of this, and have long sweeping intros and outros, creating an amazing mood and ambiance that you do not usually see in horror films. The production quality matches the sets, and you begin to feel as though that the film really was just a play recorded for PBS or something like that. I can not stress enough the quality of the sets depicting the forest, they can cause you to believe that this film is amateur or that you're watching a stage play unfold, or you will love the way it stands out from other vampire films which use real life out door scenes rather than creating them in a studio.
The movie showcases something that was not too common from films from 1970, even though the decade is definitely one of the most sexually free decades of all times, it just wasn't something you saw a lot of. That "something" is lesbianism. That's right, we are shown depictions of lesbian sex and nudity that is definitely leaning towards lesbianism and that definitely was a bit of a shocker for those that aren't too keen on seeing depictions of this kind. Obviously, if you're a horror movie fan in general, you're not going to care about this, however some more conservative types are going to hate this fact. I think it adds a good dynamic to the film.
This movie seems boring. I will not kid you, you have to go through a lot of storytelling before you get any sort of action and that action is not very gorey or good. You actually might be bored with the pacing, because while there are some shock scenes, they are tame in comparison with many American counterparts. (Hammer Studios is out of the UK, even though this film was distributed by a US company)
Why The Vampire Lovers is scary: This film is not overtly scary on the surface. However, rewind the clock and think about the year of 1970. Lesbianism and horror movies did not go hand in hand. So not only were you already dealing with one taboo, you threw in the fact that the villain was lesbian! This would scare women of course because you no longer had to look out for the creepy looking dude with the cape, or the bat that transforms into the likeness of a man, you now have to deal with a woman that bloodlets you until you are one of them! The undead!
The Dracula story (as written by Bram Stoker) did have vampire women, but they weren't lesbians. Being a lesbian isn't scary, but a lesbian vampire? Now that's a little scary, right? Right? Ok, if you're not buying that this film is scary at all, consider the fact the vampire slayers in this film aren't very competent. In fact, the underlying story is the fact that our main narrator was ready to strike down the head vampire but couldn't because the woman (vampire) was so pretty that he couldn't go through with it, as he was stricken with such a fear and at the same time had adoration for the villain. Men, we can get in trouble so easily, and that is scary. Your heart can deceive you so quickly, and if you're not convinced, then consider the amount of people that cheat on their spouses or significant others. The tendency to cheat and passion can blur your inhibitions and that is the crux of our vampire story in this film. Even though the women that become the victims are not initially lesbian, the lure of our vampire woman eventually does them in, and as seen in the Butler, this vampire can tame even a male heart with her beauty!
It's also scary to think that there was a time when medicine was not heavily available. The nobles in this film have to wait for a doctor to arrive on horseback as he is not near by. Also, the doctor is skeptical to the ailments involved by our victim, and he relies on superstition for the diagnoses and prescriptions. I find this scary, and you know what? It happens today a lot of the times, as doctors don't always have the answers to ailments and fringe science and medicine comes into play for many people. I know from personal experience that I visited a doctor that didn't know what was wrong with me, and had to bounce around until a Neurologist told me that I had suffered a mild concussion and that there was something wrong. Modern medicine isn't as bad as the medicine depicted in this film, and getting a doctor to see you is not a matter of having them travel on foot or horseback, but if it were, it'd be a seriously scary notion. One that actually stirs a little skepticism in me today, and probably forever.
I like Hammer's Horror collection and I like Peter Cushing in this film. This film is part of a trilogy of lesbian vampire tales, and this one is interesting in a lot of different ways. I highly recommend checking out The Vampire Lovers because of its different approach to the vampire movie genre. Seriously, this one is really different. I would definitely recommend it if you like stage plays and production, because the acting and camera motions really feel as though this was meant for the stage, and not a movie. There are so many scenes that just remind me of Shakespeare or something similar, that it's hard to get into this film. If you're looking for a straight forward, no nonsense horror film, you're not going to find it here, because it's a bit more serious than that. There is much more dialogue and reliance on speech than modern horror films, and you know what? I kind of like that. Hammer Horror puts together an ok film, and I liked it, probably because I enjoy the sets a lot and the costumes are kind of cool too. The Vampire Lovers isn't going to make a lot of top ten lists, and my writing is not going to probably convince many people that it's a worthwhile film to view, but consider that in 1970 lesbian vampires weren't exactly mainstream. In fact, in the year of 1970 not a whole lot of homoesexual behavior was talked about or discussed, which surprises me that this film was greenlit at the time. I don't know, maybe I'm just not used to seeing this style of vampire story come out of the early 70's, at least not yet. I'm going to explore the whole vampire lesbian angle from the 70's a little more. So expect more along those lines, later on. I have some other horror movies on tap. Mmm....TAP...I wish I had Rolling Rock on tap, for now, I'll have to settle for 12 oz bottles. Oh well.
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