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Lust for a Vampire (1971)
When Nate asked me to review this film for the second time, I scoffed. This isn’t unusual as I tend to scoff at anything Nate says, but the reason for this particular brand of scoffing lies in my former opinion of this movie. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, when I had a column at Classic-Horror called “Jenn’s Obscure Movie of the Month,” I reviewed this film. My general opinion was that it was a half hearted attempt at lesbian vampire porn and should be called Lust for Knockers. I believe I even suggested to get the widescreen version so you wouldn’t miss one erect nipple this movie has to offer. God, how my view of this film changed the second time around. In reality, Lust for a Vampire is a fine vampire film well worthy of the name “Hammer Films“.
The film is about a beautiful, blond female vampire. Everyone who falls in love with her (male and female) seems to inexplicitly disappear. This is a pyramid scheme by a head vampire who is using beautiful chick vampires for… er… it’s not quite clear, but it’s really, really bad. And possibly Satanic. Well, at very least, a lot of people are going to die. I was most impressed by the way this film moved and grooved. By the opening scene, I was absolutely hooked. The script was very, very solid. This is quite a rarity in obscure Hammer horror, and a refreshing treat for the viewing audience.
I enjoyed this film because it took the classic story of Dracula and put a female twist on it. Even in present day, the film still seemed fresh to me. Sure, it was predictable, but in the most delightful way. It was the typical vampire-wreaks-havoc-and-gets-killed-with-a- stake- through-the-heart-story. It’s a formula that has always worked and will always work. However, just the addition of a simple twist, such as making the head vampire a beautiful female, and the concept looks brand new again. Two gangrened thumbs up for creativity.
There is one thing from my former review that I’m standing by, however. This film very well could have been called Lust for Knockers. The directors didn’t miss one possible shot of bare-breasted nudity, especially in the first half hour of film (I get the haunting feeling that I just lost all my male readers to Blockbuster). In my first viewing, I was a little shocked by it, as blatant nudity was not something I was used to seeing in a horror film from this time period. Upon second viewing, I discovered that the nudity was in fact very tastefully done. It was not nearly as gratuitous as I formerly believed, and it added leaps and bounds to the sensuality of the film. After all, vampires are erotic beings -- female vampires more so -- and the film is caused Lust for a Vampire. The film is meant to be a little spicy, and the director gave it the perfect atmosphere.
I watch Hammer for the atmosphere of the films. Quite frankly, this film had atmosphere coming out of its naked butt, and it blew many of the non-Dracula Hammer vampire films out of the water. This film was a little different than most Hammer horror films because it concentrated on “shock” horror than the normal, subtle eeriness. This was fine, because they made proper adaptations. The music score was perfect. They used music with plenty of forte and strong chords, instead of the hauntingly slow, single note music that Hammer is used to. This is not to say one is better than the other, but for this film, the stronger music worked superbly well.
To comment on the acting: it did not completely suck. In fact, all of the actors involved were quite good. This is a huge step in the right direction for a Hammer Film that does not involve either Christoper Lee, Terence Fisher, or Peter Cushing. Some of the dialogue was a little on the so-bad-it’s-funny side, but it really added to the campiness of the film. The catchphrase for this particular movie is “A heart attack.”. Rent it, look for it, and try not to laugh.
Lust for a Vampire is best viewed alone. Viewing it with a bunch of friends who are looking to laugh at how dated an old film looks will likely hinder your enjoyment *scowls at friend whom Jenn watched this movie with originally*. However, for the solitary evening viewer, Lust for a Vampire might just be the classic horror sleeper hit you’ve been searching for.