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The Vampire Lovers (August 18/03)

There's not much in The Vampire Lovers worth recommending, especially for those that don't particularly think that vampires are all that fascinating. Most films about the blood-sucking undead are able to remain entertaining mostly because they're willing to throw in engaging characters and an intriguing plot. Unfortunately, The Vampire Lovers contains neither of those elements.

The story revolves around a vampire named Mircalla (Ingrid Pitt), who seems to spend all her time assuming the identities of her victims. For whatever reason, Mircalla's not comfortable just killing folks at random; no, she takes her time and becomes quite friendly with her soon-to-be meal. After selecting a young woman that appeals to her (why she chooses who she does is never made entirely clear), Mircalla takes the time and effort to get said victim to trust in her - to the point where the two practically become lovers. Soon after, Mircalla kills the woman, takes her identity, and moves on to the next village.

It's possible that The Vampire Lovers would've worked better as a short, because there's clearly not enough material here to sustain a 90-minute movie. The film never passes beyond its initial premise, featuring Mircalla's transient existence, turning it into an almost excruciating experience. Far too many sequences feature characters talking about inconsequential things; there's no storyline here, so the dialogue is generally limited to non-expository matters. Worse of all, though, Mircalla proves to be a terminally dull character. The script never allows her to do a single thing that's even remotely intriguing; it's as if the mere fact that she's a lesbian is supposed to be enough to keep us interested (which just might be true for certain viewers).

This being a Hammer production, however, it's the visual look of the film that proves to be its only worthwhile aspect. Sets are shrouded in fog and the interiors of the various castles are genuinely impressive. But really, that's just not enough to prevent The Vampire Lovers from becoming an overlong bore.

out of

About the DVD: The Vampire Lovers is included on the same disc as another Hammer horror flick, Countess Dracula. The letterboxed transfer is surprisingly clean and crisp, so much so that's it's hard to believe this movie is over 30-years-old. Along with a trailer and an excerpt from the original story that inspired this movie (read by Pitt), the disc includes a commentary track featuring Pitt, director Roy Ward Baker, and screenwriter Tudor Gates.
© David Nusair