Review: LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971)

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE comes on the heels of Roy Ward Baker’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and forms the middle portion of the so-called Karnstein trilogy, which contends with the Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu novella CARMILLA. This 1971 entry from Hammer Film Productions differs from the more orthodox DRACULA series in many ways, but it does maintain a certain Gothic receptivity in the hands of director Jimmy Sangster.

The action returns to Styria, where novelist Richard Lestrange (Michael Johnson) is hanging around. He receives word of some odd events and comes across a finishing school for girls, which is run by Miss Simpson (Helen Christie). A new arrival named Mircalla (Yutte Stensgaard) catches Richard’s eye and he works his way to a position as an instructor. He is subsequently led around by his libido, but there is trouble afoot as Mircalla may or may not be associated with the infamous Karnstein clan of vampires.

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LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is less intriguing than THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, but there is some interesting material. Richard’s actions belie a greater sense for the rapacious, in that this finishing school serves as a veritable henhouse for the movie’s many foxes. Gender has little to do with it, although Giles Barton (Ralph Bates) is a more than suitable creep. Mircalla likewise sets herself up as a fanged invader, seeking nubile necks upon which to nosh.

There is plenty of flesh, often in the form of young women changing in their rooms, and that provides the requisite eye candy for those so inclined. There is a minor bit of substance when Richard arrives about he doesn’t believe the mythology of Styria’s working class and repudiates the vampire business, but this disperses quickly. Most of LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is spent rummaging through the basics, with a banal cast and an unremarkable wisp of a leading vamp.

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