Bloody Vampires! Lesbian Lovers! Naked Halloween Horror! Classic Erotic “Hammer Time”!

Quick Halloween question to pose to everyone:

“Which is the Virgin? Which is the Vampire?”

It’s an age old question, isn’t it? Especially during this time of year!

And for England’s iconic Hammer Film Studios, it was a question they were forced to face as their classic style of horror film ran headlong into the sexual revolution…first, a bit of back story:


Hammer Horror Time!

Hammer Films was once a powerful UK film company, best known for a series of Gothic “Hammer Horror” films made from the mid-1950s until the 1970s. These films were all based in the past, with spooky castles and evil monsters…

For a time they owned the horror market, with classic films like “Taste The Blood Of Dracula” and “The Curse Of Frankenstein”. But as movie tastes changed, Hammer started to get left behind…even as legendary Horror Actors like Christopher Lee continued to turn out film after film…

Films like “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) had set a new standard for graphic, modern violence in horror films. That led Hammer to try a more modern approach…

The company realized that, if they couldn’t be as gory as the Americans, they could jump on a trend prevalent in European films of the time – yes, they would get down and dirty.

The Karnstein Trilogy and Hammer’s Foray Into Erotica

The Karnstein Trilogy was based loosely on J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s early vampire novella Carmilla. These three films were a major step forward for Hammer – as they showed some of the most explicit scenes of lesbianism yet seen in mainstream English language films. Despite otherwise traditional Hammer design and direction, there was a dramatic increase in nudity in the films during this era.

Let’s check out the trilogy!

The Vampire Lovers (1970) – “Taste The Deadly Passion Of The Blood-Nymphs!”

The Countess is called away to tend a sick friend – so she asks her friend the General to let her daughter Marcilla stay as a house guest. Of course, soon villagers begin dying, and the General’s daughter Laura gets weak and pale – but Marcilla is there to comfort her. Like I said, Hammer went lesbian!

Of course the villagers rebel, more people die, and there is a lot of nudity and female-on-female vampire action, thanks to Marcilla…

Marcilla: You must die! Everybody must die!

Legendary Horror Actor Peter Cushing starred in the film as well, and got to hold some fun props:


Baron Joachim von Hartog: They were all evil and remain evil after death!

They sure are…and, in trying to be more contemporary, there were plenty of scenes that allowed the Actresses the chance to “work” together:

I love the posters of this era, including this one from overseas:

After the success of “The Vampire Lovers”, another film in the series quickly followed…

Lust for a Vampire (1971)

“Welcome To The Finishing School – Where They Really DO Finish You!”

In 1830, forty years to the day since the last manifestation of their dreaded vampirism, the Karnstein heirs use the blood of an innocent to bring forth the evil that is the beautiful Mircalla – or as she was in 1710, Carmilla.

The nearby Finishing School offers rich pickings not only in in the blood of nubile young ladies but also with the headmaster who is desperate to become Mircalla’s disciple. Again, lots of beautiful women taking their clothes off for the sake of horror.

The film has a cult following, and its most famous scene shows Actress Yutte Stensgaard drenched in blood and partially covered by blood-soaked rags…a good look for a horror film…

Hammer films began to showcase much more flesh to go along with the blood, which was their only way to compete against the more modern films of the time…

As good as “The Vampire Lovers” and “Lust For A Vampire” were, the masterpiece of the three was the final film in the trilogy…

Twins of Evil (1971)

“In Old Gothic Europe They Had Two Burning Passions: Witch Hunting and Devil Worship!”

“Twins of Evil” starred Peter Cushing, along with the real-life twins and former Playboy Playmates Mary and Madeleine Collinson.

Yes, the twins had been in Playboy in October, 1970 – and Hammer saw a smart commercial idea when they saw one!

It is the third film of The Karnstein Trilogy, based on the vampire tale Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. The film has the least resemblance to the novel and adds a witch hunting theme to the vampire story.

Much of the interest of the film revolves around the contrasting evil and good natures of two beautiful sisters, Frieda and Maria Gellhorn. Of course, all of the publicity shots focused on the twins in all their sexy glory…

Hammer studios were prolific in their heyday, and you have to give them credit for coming up with the idea of evil twins…

The plot allowed plenty of opportunity for the girls to undress – and of course, for one of them to be EVIL…

In nineteenth century middle-Europe, orphaned teenage twins Maria and Frieda go to live with their uncle Gustav Weil, who heads the Brotherhood, a vigilante group trying to stamp out vampirism.

The real threat lies with Count Karnstein, and although the twins seem outwardly to be identical, Frieda finds herself much more drawn than her sister to the Count’s castle dominating the skyline.

As you can see, the twins were front and center for nudity and bloodletting…

Ultimately, this type of film wound up at drive-ins, as part of a “sexy” double bill designed to draw in carloads of teenagers looking for a cheap thrill…

Ultimately, no matter how much Hammer tried to become “hip”, the classic look of the films, and their medieval setting, branded them as “square.”

Dracula AD 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula, for example, abandon period settings in pursuit of a modern-day setting and “swinging London” feel. These films were not successful, and drew fire not only from critics, but from Christopher Lee himself, who refused to appear in more Dracula films after these.

Speaking at a press conference in 1973 to announce The Satanic Rites of Dracula, then called Dracula is Dead… and Well and Living in London, Lee said:

“I’m doing it under protest… I think it is fatuous. I can think of twenty adjectives – fatuous, pointless, absurd. It’s not a comedy, but it’s got a comic title. I don’t see the point.”

Aside from the classic Hammer films being rediscovered thanks to DVD and blu-ray, a newly launched Hammer Studios released the critically-acclaimed smash hit “The Woman In Black” this year, starring Daniel Radcliffe…good to have them back!



Categories: 70's Cinema, Grindhouse, Horror films, Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Sexploitation Movies, Travel, Uncategorized

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