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As a Hammer fan, I have to admit that LUST FOR A VAMPIRE ($25) isnít one of the studioís most shining productions, but it is still a film that I like a whole heck of a lot. Perhaps it is because LUST FOR A VAMPIRE features gratuitous female nudity, as well as a bit of lesbian erotica that it has become one of my guilty pleasures. LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is the middle film in Hammerís lesbian vampire trilogy that also featured the far more stylish THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, as well as TWINS OF EVIL. All three films in Hammerís lesbian vampire trilogy are loosely adapted from Sheridan Le Fanuís story Carmilla, with LUST FOR A VAMPIRE taking place at a mid-nineteenth century girlsí finishing school- a place perfectly suited to gratuitous female nudity and a bit of lesbian titillation.

As it turns out, the filmís finishing school is just a short distance from Karnstein Castle, home to a family of vampires that appear every forty years like clockwork. As the film opens, the Karnsteins return to their ancestral home and abduct a beautiful peasant girl, whose blood they use in a satanic ritual to resurrect the dried husk of Carmilla Karnstein. Reborn as Mircalla Herritzen (Yutte Stensgaard), the beautiful young vampire becomes part of the finishing schoolís student body, where she satiates her appetite for blood. Unexpectedly, Mircalla catches the eye of writer Richard Lestrange (Michael Johnson), who joins the faculty just to be near her. When Lestrange declares his love for Mircalla, she is deeply affected and is unable to succumb to her base nature in his presence. Of course, this does not preclude Mircalla from snacking on the other instructors or on her fellow students, whenever Lestrange isnít around. As the body count rises around the village, the locals gather up their torches and head off to the castle to deal with the Karnsteins in a manner befitting those of their undead stature. The cast of LUST FOR A VAMPIRE also features Ralph Bates, Barbara Jefford, Suzanna Leigh, Helen Christie, Pippa Steel, David Healy, Harvey Hall and Mike Raven.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has made LUST FOR A VAMPIRE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Let me say right up front that, this is an excellent presentation of uncut version of LUST FOR A VAMPIRE. The image is surprisingly clean, sharp and detailed. Not of the same caliber as a new film, but for a thirty-year-old modest budget production, this DVD looks incredibly good. There is some graininess in the image, but this is inherent to the film stocks used at the time and not a flaw in the transfer. Colors are pretty vibrant, especially the blood reds, while the flesh tones always appear attractive (especially with all the female skin on display in this movie). There are no signs of chroma noise or smearing to mar the presentation. Blacks are solid and inky and the level of shadow detail is more than respectable. The day for night cinematography appears a hair too light in spots, but there is a payoff in extra image detail. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight during the presentation.

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE includes a good sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Background hiss and distortion have been cleaned off the track, rendering it crisp and pleasant sounding. The filmís musical score never sounds harsh or brittle, although there are some limitations in the overall fidelity of these thirty-year-old recordings. The filmís completely inappropriate love theme sounds good, but it really should have never been part of the film in the first place. Dialogue comes through quite well and is always completely understandable. No additional language or subtitle tracks are offered on the DVD.

Full motion video animation and sound enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Starting things off is a running commentary featuring director Jimmy Sangster, costar Suzanna Leigh and Hammer historian Marcus Hearm, who serves as moderator. The commentary is enjoyable because the participants are having a good time talking about the film, exchanging anecdotes and admitting to some of the movieís shortcomings. Also included on the DVD are a theatrical trailer, radio spots, poster and still gallery, as well as biographies for Jimmy Sangster, Ralph Bates and Yutte Stensgaard.

While it may not be one of the horror classics that Hammer is noted for, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE definitely has its appeal. The movie remains titillating horror fun for genre fans and devotees of the legendary production company. Anchor Bay Entertainment has produced a great looking DVD edition of the movie, making it something that fans will want to have in their collections.


Lust for a Vampire


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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