Monday, December 3, 2007

The Vampire Lovers (Roy Ward Baker, 1970)

Bring me the head of Ingrid Pitt! (we'll take the rest anytime as well!)

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:


and:


and:


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.



Simple as that.



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!



CLOSE INSPECTION

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!


post © Howard S. Berger & Kevin Marr
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS © Orion Pictures Distribution Corporation

9 comments:

Cinebeats said...

Many thanks for the shout out and I really enjoyed reading your tribute to Ingrid! Love all the pics you posted too. She's such a knock out but not in a typical way. She has a real sultry look and it seems like she would rip off your head and stick it on her trophy shelf after she kissed you.

The Flying Maciste Brothers said...

A price well worth paying, I'm sure!

Thanks for your comments Kimberly.
We aim to please.

CG said...

Great write-up. Now I can't wait to get out of work. I'm anxious to get home and put on some Ingrid. Ha!!

The Flying Maciste Brothers said...

Thanks, CG -- but take care -- don't over-extend yourself!;)
Welcome to the blog!

CG said...

TFMB -

HaHa!! I made sure I was careful.

I started a blog not too long ago. When you get the chance, give it a look....

Wine and Werewolves

venoms5 said...

Nice tribute to Ingrid and an interesting take via visual aid on the "staking" scene at the end of VAMPIRE LOVERS.

The Flying Maciste Brothers said...

Many continued thanks, Brian. We Macistes really groove on COOL ASS CINEMA and are happy to see you hanging out here as well!

Isn't it incredible how much fun these artists had devising film once upon a time. It seems like so very, very few filmmakers are "allowed" to play with their subject matter these days. It's all so tediously strait-forward and unimaginative. This may be executive enforced most of the time and that is the shame...

venoms5 said...

For me, the filmmakers of old were only limited by their budgetary constraints and lack of resources during those times. But these same artisans surpassed these restrictions by way of their unlimited imaginations in creating as realistic a scenario as possible.

Today, anything can be done within a computer. Regardless of how sloppily executed it is, people still buy into it. Give them an old fashioned special effect, or a meticulously created studio set, an effective performance, and it's old hat, boring, or unrealistic.

Personally, I prefer live effects as they appear tangible. It looks like I could reach out and touch it, see around it. Most all CG effects look fake to me. It all looks flat. It doesn't flow naturally and so many of these effects give off a visual appearance of being in two dimensions.

Perhaps this lack of technological advancement is why so many older films are far more rich in different aspects of there productions as opposed to more modern movies where the action, or a plethora of computer effects sells the film. The performances sold those movies with the action being the added attraction.

I wouldn't doubt if eventually actors were no longer needed for movies with literally everything being created in the computer.

Hopefully, there will continue to be a legion of fans (regardless of how small a group it may be) that will keep these older, more magical movies alive, and not bury them under the rubble brought about from the onslaught of computer technology in cinema.

Christine said...

Wonderful movie. Gothic, romantic, exciting... A Hammer classic.