For most young horror fans growing up in the 1970's, the source of their first glimpse of nudity (or even just an ample, heaving bustierred bosom) was most probably a Hammer film. And thankfully, with the aid of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine --
-- and a blitz of beautifully mounted coffee-table publications like:
most of us innocent 'lil panubbins were guided over to the dark side of sexual awareness without our parents even realizing it. The people over at Hammer were well aware that their existence depended on the interest of a growing and more demanding youth market -- more demanding, that is, for boobs! And the very first boobs that were offered were those of Ingrid Pitt.
Ingrid Pitt was certainly a capable actress --
-- but, from the moment she was unshrouded in Roy Ward Baker's groundbreaking THE VAMPIRE LOVERS --
-- Ms. Pitt was, is and forever will be --
-- for those of The Flying Maciste Brothers' generation --
-- the horror-fan's Betty Grable.
And Hammer understood perfectly well how to perpetuate this impression.
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS was the first of three Karnstein Family vampire movies, initially based on Sheridan LeFanu's classic gothic novella "Carmilla".
This film gave parents the great opportunity to nervously stammer out an explanation of what lesbianism was to all their slobbering, pre-teen children who were rapidly falling in love with this larger-than-life beauty on the screen before them.
Now, some 37 years since the release of THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, Ingrid Pitt has turned 70 -- for more on this personal milestone and an outstanding appreciation of Ingrid's lifetime of accomplishments, let us point you to the November 21st, 2007 post of Kimberly Lindbergs monumental blog, Cinebeats.
But, here at DESTRUCTIBLE MAN -- as a belated birthday wish to Ingrid -- we thought it appropriate to present what for years was, without question, the most hungered-for censored dummy-death in the history of film: the decapitation of Carmilla/Mircalla/Marcilla Karnstein herself: Ingrid Pitt!
Viewed in the abstract, this sequence is quite telling. The older men surrounding the beautiful, immortally young Carmilla might as well represent the heads of Hammer, let alone the viewers in the audience --
The great Peter Cushing readies his spike --
-- taking in the intoxicating beauty that belongs, not to Carmilla --
-- but, in reality, to Ingrid Pitt --
-- he holds his spike -- erect --
-- and thrusts --
-- the spike penetrating the flesh just underneath her -- um --
-- breast --
-- blood erupts from the invaded aperture -- actually, the first deception/substitution/transformation into dummy has begun -- but not before Peter Cushing's character of General von Spielsdorf has finished having his way with her --
-- it's back to the lovely Ms. Pitt/Carmilla as she "awakens" to the act of penetration -- then, another form of substitution -- a cut to the lovely Madeline Smith in the role of Carmilla/Mircalla's vampirized lover, Emma Morton --
-- she "awakens" as well as she psychically shares the pain (ecstasy?) of Carmilla's violation by The General --
-- and immediately succumbs to another transformation -- from near-vampire/lesbian under the control of Carmilla --
-- to the living, heterosexual lover of Carl Ebhardt/actor Jon Finch --
-- The General -- with a spasm of diminishing strength -- finishes the penetration of his spike -- leaving it inside Carmilla --
-- who relaxes and closes her eyes peacefully upon completion of his ferocious gesture --
-- one expects her to ask for a cigarette -- but instead, Carmilla retreats to a state of grace --
-- everyone is spent -- emotionally and physically --
-- even guilt-ridden...
-- as The General prepares for the act that will take Ingrid Pitt/Carmilla through the final transformation to that of Ingrid Pitt/dummy --
-- with equal guilt --
-- and ferocity --
-- the final spasms of release/relief for Cushing/The General --
-- as he holds Pitt/dummy's severed head aloft --
-- before solemnly lowering it --
-- down --
-- down --
-- down --
One last touch:
The filmmakers obvious intoxication with Ms. Pitt's very real beauty perhaps enticed them to spare the actress and leave Carmilla-the-vampire's final transformation to be performed with a portrait.
Immortal indeed --
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, INGRID!
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS © Orion Pictures Distribution Corporation