VampiresWith all the hubbub about sexy vampires these days, courtesy of Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, it’s time to take a short stroll down memory lane to the “golden age” of vampire lesbian cinema with Hammer’s so-called “Karnstein Trilogy.”
The first of the series, The Vampire Lovers, starred beautiful Polish actress Ingrid Pitt, who had previously played Elizabeth Bathory in Countess Dracula for Hammer. Pitt played Carmilla Karnstein, the literary prototype for all vampire lesbians, a character created by author J. Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872. I saw the film on a late night “chiller theater” TV slot in the mid-Seventies and while its actually a pretty decent, serviceable period piece horror film, uh, whatever… let’s get real here, the real attraction were the bare breasts of Ms. Pitt and crew! Without them no one would remember this film at all.
Ask anyone who grew up in the Seventies —well ask any guy-- and they will know all about this film and its two sequels, which were often aired—astonishingly—with the nude scenes intact. Back in the Seventies, this was a cause for celebration for teenage boys. I used to scour the TV Guide searching for weird things to watch and whenever there was a screening of one of these films, I can assure you that I didn’t have anything better to do that night!
The second film in the Karnstein Trilogy was 1971’s Lust for a Vampire starring blond Danish hottie Yutte Stensgaard. Again, ask any middle-aged guy in America or England who watched horror films as a kid and… they will know the name Yutte Stensgaard, who is seen bare-breasted and smeared with blood in the film. A still from this scene made frequent appearances in monster movie books and magazines, providing masturbatory fodder for an entire generation of horror film geeks (here Stensgaard is seen signing it at a fan convention). Few woman reading this will have ever heard of Yutte Stensgaard, but trust me, many —most—of the guys out there have. I love the tagline in the trailer: “Welcome to the finishing school where they really DO finish you…”
Twins of Evil was the final entrant in the series. Twins of Evil starred identical twin Playboy Playmates Mary and Madeline Collinson. It was a sort of pre-quel to the first film and also starred Peter Cushing. Aside from just Sapphic vampires, Twins of Evil had themes of witchcraft and devil worship, so it was an extra campy Hammer entry. The Collinson twins were such bad actresses that their voices were overdubbed in post production.