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Film / The Vampire Lovers

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The Vampire Lovers is a 1970 Hammer Horror film starring Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Douglas Wilmer, Ferdy Mayne, Madeline Smith and Kate O'Mara, based on Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla.

A woman calling herself Carmilla (Pitt) arrives at the residence of one Mr. Morton, where she befriends Morton's daughter Emma (Smith) and Emma's governess (O'Mara); thereafter Emma suffers mysterious nightmares. The secret to Carmilla's mysterious past may lie with General Spielsdorf (Cushing) and Baron Hartog (Wilmer).

Followed by two sequels, Lust for the Vampire and Twins of Evil; altogether these films are known as Karnstein trilogy.


Has the examples of:

  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the book, the main character is highly educated, speaks three languages, and is steeped in Enlightenment ideals due to her father not wanting her to be superstitious. Emma is a wide-eyed ingenue who doesn't know the German word for "eyebrow" and is easily spooked.
    • Carmilla herself shows more sympathetic traits in the book, and was an innocent when alive. Here she is purely evil, and apparently her whole family was even before becoming vampires.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Laura becomes Emma in this version, while Bertha Spielsdorf, one of Carmilla's earlier victims, becomes (somewhat confusingly) Laura.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Mircalla is willing to seduce men to get what she wants as well, though her preference seems to be women.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mircalla.
  • Bling of War: General Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) in the ball scene.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: A young woman is asleep in her cottage. She's startled awake by Carmilla stroking her face but soon after is delighted to see her.
  • Bury Your Gays: Mircalla and the Governess' fates.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Mircalla seems to prefer hunting prey barefoot and in a sleek nightgown.
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  • Death by Sex: Played with as some who have sex with Mircalla die while others do not.
  • Demoted to Extra: Due to Adaptation Name Change, Laura is portrayed as Carmilla's first victim who is quickly killed off in the first twenty minutes.
  • Fanservice: Oh, yes, very much.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: There's not much room for doubt Mircalla and Emma (and Mircalla and the Governess) were intimate. This even got past Madeline Smith's (Emma) radar; she later admitted she was a virgin when the movie was made and had no idea what Emma and Mircalla were supposed to be doing.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Emma and Carmilla fool around in the nude after Carmilla takes a bath.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors. In the same ball, Carmilla (Ingrid Pitt) is dressed in blood-red and her mother has black dress (although white roses in the hair). Guess what it means?
  • Haunted Castle: As per the ISO Standard for Hammer Horror.
  • Horror Hunger: Carmilla appears to have genuine feelings for Emma, but can't keep her fangs to herself.
  • Improvised Cross: Carl Ebhardt's cruciform dagger.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Countess Mircalla Karnstein, also known as Carmilla and Marcilla. Also an adaptation of the trope origin, Carmilla.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ingrid Pitt and all the other young women in the film, who all have at least one scene in a translucent gown.
  • Must Be Invited: Implied on both occasions when Mircalla is a house-guest. Averted with the woman in the cottage.
  • Off with His Head!: The only way to truly kill a vampire.
  • Ominous Fog: In the cemetery during the climax.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Carmilla seems to have human cohorts who help con unsuspecting families into hosting her.
  • Tragic Monster: Carmilla is implied to have geniune feelings for Emma, but sadly her vampire instincts are way too strong to overcome.
  • Überwald: Officially Styria.
  • Vampire Hunter: The Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer) becomes one to avenge his sister. He seeks out every member of the Karnstein family to exterminate them before they wake up from their grave and feed upon the living.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: How much of everyone's attraction to Mircalla is real is left ambiguous. Is it mind control, pure lust, or something more?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Carmilla's "mother" is never seen again after leaving Carmilla with the Mortons, and it is never explained who exactly she really was. The same goes for the mysterious man in black who watches over the events from a distance then just disappears around the third act.
  • Your Cheating Heart: For romantic interpretations of Mircalla and Emma. Mircalla seduces the Governess as well, though abandons her in the end.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Mircalla kills the Governess once the latter isn't useful to her.


Example of: