Blu-ray Review: Lust For A Vampire



Things were changing for Hammer’s approach to the horror genre as the ’70s started. The studio that shocked the world with The Curse of Frankenstein and The Horror of Dracula had to adapt to the times. In America the Motion Picture Production Code had finally been replaced with a ratings system that allowed release of movies with nudity, violence and bad language as an R or even X rating. The studios no longer had to find ways to obscure or cut around such moments. Film producers were eager to include moments that people weren’t going to see at home on television in this time before HBO and VHS. Hammer wasn’t ready to abandon its 19th century settings. But they were willing to spice up the screen to keep moviegoers from seeing the studio as stuck in the past. Instead of having Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing running around naked, the studio gave us Ingrid Pitt as Mircalla Karnstein in The Vampire Lovers. The film was a hit as Pitt claimed female victims in tempting ways. Hammer would push their material deeper into the R Rating by reviving Mircalla Karnstein in Lust For a Vampire.

A young girl walking through the woods is offered a ride by a coach. It would be her last ride as she’s taken to the Karnstein Castle and sacrificed in a ritual by Count Karnstein (I, Monster‘s Mike Raven) and the Countess ( Ulysses‘ Barbara Jefford). They revive the Mircalla although her new form makes her Yutte Stensgaard (Scream, And Scream Again). Richard Lestrange (The Human Jungle‘s Michael Johnson) is poking around the castle to investigate the vampire rumors. He encounters the girls at the nearby finishing school and decides this will be his best cover to investigate further. He gets a bunch of background from a school’s teacher Giles Barton (Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde‘s Ralph Bates). Barton is also really into the history of the Karnsteins. Lestrange does a bit of deception to land a teaching position and uncovers the student that’s really the Mircalla. Students at the finishing school begin to vanish and later their corpses pop up. Are the Karnsteins finishing off the students?

Lust For a Vampire has plenty of topless moments as the student bodies expose themselves for various reasons. There’s even a full fledged love scene complete with a special song sung during the couple’s outdoor encounter. But don’t worry that Hammer got too seductive. There’s plenty of blood dripping from various people. The opening has Mircalla dripping in it. Like the previous The Vampire Lovers, Hammer isn’t afraid to have a bit of girl-girl vampire seduction. There is a bit of a who dunnit element as it’s just not a case of Mircalla sucking her classmates dry. There’s quite a few suspects roaming the school and castle grounds. This film seems a bit like the precursor to Dario Argento’s Susperia with the girls school angle. Lust For A Vampire delivers what you’d expect by being teased by Hammer with a young female vampire let loose in a posh girls boarding school.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 4K scan of the negative brings out the beauty of the finishing school and how sheer their school uniforms were. The audio is DTS-HD MA Mono. The sound is clear and levels fine. The movie is subtitled in English.

The film in 1.66:1 anamorphic so you see more at the top and bottom with the black bars around the side. You can’t listen to the audio commentaries in this format.

Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Bruce Hallenbeck goes into the history of the film and the context of Hammer’s early ’70s output.

Interview With Actress Mel Churcher (3:35) recounts a beautiful summer and learning how to dance.

Audio Commentary By Director Jimmy Sangster, Star Suzanna Leigh, And Hammer Films Historian Marcus Hearn. Sangster talks about how he took over the film from director Terrence Fisher after an injury.

Theatrical Trailer (2:41) wants us to know there will be lust in this vampire film.

Radio Spots (1:33) wants us to know the vampires are sexy in this movie.

Still Galleries (9:49) has plenty of press photos from the movie and behind the scenes.

Poster and Lobby Card Gallery (4:57) has the way the lust was sold all over the globe.

Scream Factory presents Lust For A Vampire. Directed by Jimmy Sangster. Screenplay by: Tudor Gates. Starring: Yutte Stensgaard, Michael Johnson, Ralph Bates, Barbara Jefford, Suzanna Leigh, Helen Christie & Mike Raven. Rated: R. Running Time: 95 minutes. Released: July 30, 2019

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