Lust for a Vampire (Hammer 1970 with Ralph Bates and Yutte Stensgaard)

UK / Hammer / 95 minutes / 1970

Writer: Tudor Gates / Story: Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu / Music: Harry Robinson / Cinematography: David Muir / Producers: Harry Fine, Michael Style / Director: Jimmy Sangster

Cast: Ralph Bates, Michael Johnson, Barbara Jefford, Suzanna Leigh. Yutte Stensgaard, Mike Raven, Helen Christie

By the early 1970’s Hammer was losing ground to the new wave of horror movies being made in the UK and America so they concentrated on injecting a new level of sex and gore into their films. Lust For A Vampire was made in 1970 and was the second movie in a trilogy of Vampire flicks about the legendary Carmilla (who bathed in the blood of virgins to keep herself young) using novelist Sheridan Le Fanu as source material. Hammer also made The Vampire Lovers with Ingrid Pitt, Lust, and Twins of Evil with the legendary Collinson twins.

The plot for lust (set in 1830) sees novelist Richard Lestrage (played by Michael Johnson) take a job as a teacher at a school for young ladies only to find that one of the girls Mircalla (the fulsome Yutte Stensgaard) is hiding a sinister secret.

All the staples are here, from nude moonlight swims, the lurid set design, the dodgy soundtrack, the heavy smell of garlic in the air and boy is it fun. If you don’t take them too seriously the Hammer movies are great late night movies, most have casts full of great British character actors, Michael Ripper seems to be in every one of them.

Here we get to see a great performance from Ralph Bates and the hammy Mike Raven in a kind of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee type duel. Listen out too for the most unlikely love song in a film ever (a pop song called Strange Love played over one of the key love scenes).