Top positive review
Middling Hammer vampire effort gets superior DVD treatment
on December 13, 2001
Lust for a Vampire is the second and generally acknowledged as the least of Hammer's Carmilla Karnstein trilogy (Vampire Lovers, Lust, Twins of Evil). The movie is actually better than I expected, with most of the downside apparently due to postproduction fiddling by producers Harry Fine and Michael Style. The script by Tudor Gates contains a few fresh twists, Jimmy Sangster's direction is competent, the women, especially Yutte Stensgaard as Mircalla, are gorgeous, and Ralph Bates is excellent in a difficult role (originally intended for Peter Cushing). But what really mars the film and no doubt contributes to its poor reputation are some shockingly bad editing and soundtrack decisions: an otherwise effective scene of three 'vampiresses' stalking Michael Johnson in Karnstein castle is ruined by an idiotic voiceover; the unintentionally hilarious "subjective" murder shots were no doubt intended to be cut away from much sooner than they are; blatantly obvious, mismatched closeups of Christopher Lee's bloodshot eyes are substituted for Mike Raven's; Stensgaard and Johnson's big vampire attack/love scene is rendered completely ludicrous by an absolutely awful pop song ("Strange Love") warbling in the background, etc., etc. The movie's quite watchable but frustrating because you keep thinking, "if only Jimmy Sangster had been allowed to edit this it probably would've been much better." (After saving Hammer's bacon by replacing injured Terence Fisher at the last minute, Sangster was unceremoniously ordered off the film by the producers as soon as shooting wrapped.) As it is, it's worth a look for Hammer and vampire fans, but ultimately less than completely satisfying.
Whatever one thinks of the film, you can't complain about Anchor's DVD package. The uncut, anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) source print is a wee bit soft, but otherwise virtually flawless, with great color, contrast, detail, and nary a speckle to be seen. Extras include an equally gorgeous trailer, radio spots, poster and still gallery, filmographies, and a commentary by Jimmy Sangster, Suzanna Leigh, and Hammer historian Marcus Hearn. This is a real treat, since they spend most of the time discussing a wide range of personalities and topics, including some behind-the-scenes Hammer dish, rather than just focusing on the movie. Overall another fine release from Anchor, who've really been setting the standard for "special edition" DVDs lately, horror or otherwise. 5 stars for the DVD, 3 or 4 for the movie.