Hammer/American International film. Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt) is a deadly vampire intent on wooing and feasting on virgin daughters, namely Laura (Pippa Steel) and Emma (Madeline Smith). She has a bit too much to eat and her victims’ daddies General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) and Morton (George Cole), along with vampire hunter Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer), come looking for her blood.
Maybe it’s the period costumes, but to me the film doesn’t feel exploitative or trashy in its depiction of a lesbian vampire. Sure she gets naked, sure there’s a scene when she and Emma cavort topless, but the film also focuses on her relationships with Laura and Emma. It’s kinda sweet, in a destructive way. They sure don’t seem to mind Marcilla kissing them and biting their boobs.
I don’t envy the gay women of the ‘70s; movies where women kiss and look at each other with openly wanting expressions were few and far between. Being a queer of my generation (I was born in the early ‘80s), I can find it amusing that Marcilla’s victims are having nightmares about giant pussies (ahem, cats, that is). I can also laugh at the scene when Marcilla is reading to Emma: “Pulling her gently towards him, he showered her sweet upturned face with manly kisses. [Marcilla stops reading.] This is a silly book.” Unfortunately, the lesson here seems to be that being gay is best left to monsters, who belong dead. One assumes Emma will marry handsome Carl (Jon Finch) and forget about her vampire lover.
I’m not a big Hammer fan; most of their films are period pieces, which come off to me as dry and humorless. I make an exception for The Vampire Lovers. It’s a classic. A sexy, sexy classic.