Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you've all had/are having/will have a great day, filled with many spooky delights!

As for my Halloween, I was working like a madman yesterday preparing all the yumblies, which included lemon meringue pie, jelly set in a skull mold (attempt failed), custard to go with it, jelly in glasses for spiders (that is, root beer floats (with other sodas though), to you Americans), cookies with spooky icing (attempt failed), and a cola recipe I found online! Then there were the ghoulish lollies and chocolates I'd acquired over the course of the month. I enjoyed all of this while continuing my yearly tradition of marathoning Dead Gorgeous! And once that was over, I watched Elvira, Mistress of the Dark again...

Other things I did were carve a pumpkin, which went really well once again! I carved a Jack Skellington design. As for a costume, given that I live in the middle of nowhere, and there are no costumes/supplies to buy anywhere close to me, I had to make do with whatever was lying around the house...again. I was going to use some fun stickers from Emma of Little Gothic Horrors, so I could be a deranged apothecary, but I came up with something better! While I still had no idea how I could make myself look like a chemist without any supplies beyond a sticker of deadly nightshade, I came up with the idea to create a makeshift Killers from Space outfit!

May you all have a wonderful Halloween!...

{Pictures and screenshots incoming}

A Feminist Essay on April Fool's Day (1986)

The Apostle (2012)

*Note. This review is currently blank. I had intended to look at this awesome Spanish/Galician stop-motion horror film called O Apostolo, but the English subtitles for the Video-on-Demand option on the movie's website don't seem to be working, so I wasn't able to watch it in time. Hopefully this space will be filled up soon, because I really want to talk about this movie!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Vincent (1982)

When it comes to stop-motion, Tim Burton is mainly known for A Nightmare Before Christmas, and more recently Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie   is the 1982 short film Vincent

The plot focuses on a young boy named Vincent Malloy, who fantasizes about being Vincent Price. I won't go further than that, because it is a very short movie, and describing the plot is more Price's job. The story has no dialogue as such, but is gotten across through poetic reading

When it comes to tone, Vincent is far more ghoulish than stuff like A Nightmare Before Christmas, probably because this is taken pretty seriously, and is more amusing in a decidedly blacker way.

There's some very creative imagery and designs in this short, all shot beautifully in black-and white. As you'd expect from stop-motion, this 5 minute movie cost $60,000 dollars to make, if Wikipedia is to be trusted. Why is stop motion so expensive, anyway? Time consuming, yeah, but what's so money-draining about moulding a few plasticine models and moving them around? I'm very much curious to know.

As if everything else about Vincent wasn't good enough, Vincent Price does a fantastic job narrating. He totally sells everything,   and I also appreciate the meta-ness of Price himself telling this story.

The score permeates the movie with a grim and funereal feeling, and is very well composed.

Vincent is a great little film, and is a nice showcase for Tim Burton's talents before he lost them, as well as a great example of the talents of Vincent Price himself, who will always be one of the greats in cinema history...

Coraline (2009)

Last time I reviewed a Neil Gaiman adaptation, I was less than kind to him as a writer, given I'd just watched a truly awful episode he wrote for Doctor Who, and was less than enthused about what I'd read to do with his Stardust book, but it's been a few years, and I've long since mellowed on that (although I do still hate that episode of New Who with a fiery passion!), and am looking forward to talking about the 2009 adaptation of his book Coraline...

Coraline is a girl whose parents have just moved to the Pink Palace Apartments, a large old house filled with eccentric tenants. She's pretty bored by the palace, but is interested in a little door in a random wall, though it disappointingly leads to nowhere. Later that night though, it's suddenly opened up into a corridor leading to another world which seems better in every way than the normal one, though everyone has bizarre buttons for eyes. Coraline's Other Mother is hospitable at first, but her malevolent true intentions are soon revealed, and she won't stop until she's sewn buttons onto Coraline's eyes and stolen her soul...

Coraline is an awesomely spooky flick! An all-ages story, Coraline is the kind of movie that will probably traumatize most kids. The best kind! It's delightfully  and creative, with many interesting ideas and visuals.

On that note, the stop motion animation is great! I seriously cannot say enough the sheer talent it'd take to create this movie! It doesn't even take the easy way out of only being 70 minutes, but is a regular length movie.

The story is a really good one, with many twists and turns, and you identify with the lead, as well as be enraptured with her as you're whisked from the drab real world to the fantastic Other World.

This is also by all-accounts a pretty faithful and well-done book-to-film adaptation. One change does bug me though, and that's that the second climax didn't need to be more action-y than the events of the book's, as the confrontation with the Other Mother already fit that bill, and the movie had since quietened down. I also don't like Wybie's involvement. Like I said, in the book, Coraline knew the hand was following her, but here, she's taken unawares, and has to be saved by Wybie. He's even the one who destroys it! On that note, he's a pretty superfluous and annoying character, who wasn't evn in the book! I did like his Other World version though, so his presence isn't too bad.

Dakota Fanning makes for a great lead, and the rest of the acting is fine too, particularly Teri Hatcher as the villainous Other Mother.

Coraline is highly recommend. It's a great movie, and a perfect example of everything wonderful about stop-motion, as well as how to make effective horror movies for youngin's. It's not directed by Tim Burton though. Some people still seem to be under that mistaken impression...

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

For all the movies I've seen (and I've seen a looooooot), there are still quite a few glaring blind spots. One in particular was A Nightmare Before Christmas. Well I'm glad to say I've finally watched it, and was mostly not disappointed!...

Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, is feeling dissatisfied with his current lifestyle. When roaming in the woods after Halloween Night, he discovers the land of Christmas, and is immediately fascinated by the holiday, wishing to replicate it himself. He gets the rest of Halloween Town behind the idea, even kidnaping Santa Claus so Jack can take his place, but the patchwork woman Sally, Jack's would-be paramour, is convinced his plan is a bad idea...

A Nightmare Before Christmas is a highly enjoyable movie, though not without some faults. Getting to the positives, the story is fun, albeit a bit underwritten, thanks to the length. I love the film's/characters' ghoulish take on Christmas, though I'm not sure why Jack gives out terrifying presents if the whole reason for his interest in the holiday was fatigue from scaring people year round.

At around 75 minutes, the movie is a little too short for my liking. Sometimes films of that length can be fine, but in this case, I feel the story would've been better if it had more time to tell it.

The soundtrack here is quite good, with many ooky songs, courtesy of Danny Elfman, giving the movie lots of life. Unfortunately it's one of those musicals where the majority is sung! I usually find that pretty annoying, because it can be really restrictive when there's little to no actual dialogue in the story. There is some here of course, as not every scene is musical, but not really enough. I don't like how it takes over half the movie before Jack and Sally even speak. Even more annoying is that it turns out they already know each-other, meaning that after all that time waiting, there's no scene with them finally meeting and getting to know the other, but rather it's a pretty random conversation.

I was fine with most of the plot we do get though one part annoyed me. I  was excited to see that Sally was the one saving Santa from the clutches of Oogie Boogie rather than Jack, which would be nicely against type, but nope, she gets captured and it's up to Jack to save them. Another thing I found weird is Jack's inability to understand Christmas despite having read/listened to all the holiday's books, and music. If he's read and listened to all of that, how the hell doesn't he know?

The characters in this film are a ball of fun, from the overexcited Jack, to the more levelheaded and lovelorn Sally, her somewhat deranged creator, the literally two-faced mayor, gambling lord Oogie Boogie, the three mischievous ghoul kids, and of course, Santa himself.

The look of this movie is fantastic! The settings are wonderfully ghoulish, and the character designs look great, from the spindly and skeletal Jack Skellington, to Sally's patchwork nature, and many more. The animation is fantastic, as is Henry Sellick's direction!

And finally, the acting is good all-round, with no bad performances.

A Nightmare Before Christmas is most definitely a fun treat for both Halloween, and Christmas, and its status as a classic is well-deserved...

Spermula (1976)

You're probably thinking the same thing I once thought-"Spermula? Really?!", and to answer your question, no actually, this movie isn't a porn parody of Dracula. Spermula is just a futuristic science fiction-y word, and any relation to the name Dracula is presumably coincidental. I frankly have no idea where the title comes from or how it came about. It's not even a tacked on American title-It's the original French one! Perhaps words ending with 'ula' aren't automatically associated with the famous vampire to the French...

In the 1930's, there was an American cult who gathered in the Ritz. This sect rejected the concept of love, and artistic expression, which they considered evil. A few years later, they mysteriously vanished, and despite the efforts of a lone reporter in tracking them down, leading to his disappearance too, the cult was seemingly gone forever. In the present day, however, their 'daughters' have returned. Seemingly bearing little resemblance to humans anymore, this group of beings get accustomed to normal female bodies, and after leaving their massive flying boat, they use their extensive resources and contacts to net them a baroque villa in a town where they will enact their master plan to sway the world to their way of thinking...

Written and directed by painter Charles Matton, Spermula is a bit of a confusingly vague movie. It's simultaneously overwritten, yet underwritten. For example, while there are probably around 30 characters in the film, we know barely even the bare basics of who these mysterious women are. Are they human or alien? From South America or space? What exactly is their plan, and why are they doing it? To rid the world of love? To what end? So that everyone will be 'free', supposedly, but I'd appreciate it if you elaborated on that, ladies! The story mostly focuses on the myriad of other characters, and it's hard to care when we're still having trouble working out what the movie's even really about.

The dialogue is kinda impenetrable. It's right on the edge of being pretentious, and if it does actually mean something, perhaps it's either lost in translation, or was never written all that well. Some is quite good and interesting, or at the least fun. "Our voices are already wandering among the monsters", "She's only saved by the tangos in her head", and more that are screencapped throughout this post.

Whether or not I'll write an essay on the movie remains to be seen, because I can't tell if the movie's intelligent enough to actually mean something, and is making a message beyond 'love is all around'. If I wanted to know that, I'd either watch Love Actually, or the finale to The Prisoner! Like I said, this movie really could've benefited from being fleshed out more. And leaving other stuff on the cutting room floor for that matter, because Spermula is pretty darn long! I mean, it's under two hours, but it's still over 100 minutes!

As you can guess, this film suffers from there being too many damn characters! Many of them either blend together, or are so numerous that it's simply hard keeping track of them, and I say this as someone who's seen the film multiple times! The hardest to keep track of are definitely the mysterious women themselves, who aren't characterised individually all that well, not helped by there being at least a dozen of them.

The editing here is fucking awful, as if the job was done by a madman. It's all over the place! This movie feels disjointed, and not in an effective way! The overlapping dialogue in a few scenes also doesn't help! Nor does the general feeling that there are scenes missing, which all go towards making this movie a chore to follow.

Spermula is sometimes very visually interesting, with it's fantasy/sci-fi 1930's art deco look. However, therein lies my biggest problem with the movie-How it underuses said visuals. Granted, the locales the movie is shot on look fine, but once you've introduced such cool concepts and art designs as this movie does, it bugs me that we only see them for like a minute, tops, and the rest of the film is pretty mundane. It's for this reason that this movie could do with a remake. You could even call it Angels of the Future (that being dialogue from the end), which makes more sense, and isn't as ridiculous as the title we got instead.

Frequently dark and murky, the garbage low-quality print of the film also does it NO favours! I'd really like to see a remastered version of Spermula, to the point where I'd even give it another shot if seeing it in high quality.

Onto the good stuff, there's plenty of nudity, and sex, to the point that the movie is almost a softcore porno. About as hardcore as it gets is showing champagne being 'subtly' uncorked, or people suggestively fingering flowerbuds. There may have been genuine hardcore footage, but if so, it was excised before the movie saw release by censors.

The score is ok, with some decent tracks, but there's not a lot of them, and they feel overused, sometimes to an ill-fitting degree

The acting ranges from pretty good, to kinda dull, and not very good. Dayle Haddon is alluring and ethereal as Ingrid, and plays the part well, even if she's hampered by an unclear script. Unfortunately Udo Kier's character is pretty normal, so he doesn't really get a chance to shine like in other roles. That said, he's still one of the best actors in the movie. By the way, it's odd how a difference in language can make one's voice unfamiliar. In this case, I've no idea if Udio Kier himself was speaking French, or if he was overdubbed by someone else. Probably the former, since I've read that he knows several languages.

Something of note to mention about Spermula is that it very briefly features Eva Ionesco*, whose involvement in the movie was more offscreen than on. Her infamous mother (notorious for taking nude photos of her kid as if she were an adult) is believed to have worked on Spermula in some capacity (possibly aiding in set design, reference photographs, or something?), and took little Eva on set a few times, snapping up some gasp-inducing pictures, to look like movie/production stills. They were likely never actually part of the movie, but were done by Ionesco to drum up controversy, aka publicity for herself (and possibly also for the movie).

*Apparently she's the skipping silhouette at the beginning of the film.

In closing, Spermula isn't all that great a movie. It's a curious piece of somewhat sophisticated eurotrash, but nothing all that special, and if you're seeking it out based on the porntastic title, you're probably going to end up disappointed...


Now lets get into the version of Spermula that most people are familiar with, and yes, there is more than one version of this movie! While most English dubs are satisfied with just translating the script, possibly simplifying it along the way, they usually keep it relatively intact. Not so with Spermula, which I suppose was too inscrutable for the American company releasing it, and they didn't think anyone else would understand it either, so chose to do do it what some European countries did to The Persuaders. They basically chucked the script out the window and wrote a new one.

This new script was more of an overt sci-fi tale, as opposed to the original more leaning towards fantasy, and most noticeably, it's a comedy! Yep, the U.S. distributors redubbed Spermula as a wacky sex-comedy! This goes over about as well as you can imagine!

The new plot sees the ethereal women as actual aliens from the planet Spermula, which is dying, so the Big Mother sends her top Spermulites to suck all semen from the world's men, to make them weak and docile, ripe for takeover...

The biggest problem with this dub is that it's simply trying to be a different movie, and there's only so far (read: not far at all) that it can go when it's constrained by the boundaries of the movie it's overdubbing. It's painfully obvious that this audio isn't part of the original, and it never really has a chance for that reason. If it was its own movie, then it could actually show the outlandish and over-the-top things it's frequently describing, and not break the 'show, don't tell' rule so much. It'd be one thing if the movie was amusing regardless, but it's not. Hell, even if it was, I don't think it could overcome this issue.

The story is improved in some ways though. For example, for all it's difficulty in gelling to the film, I at least had less trouble understanding the plot of this version. It excises all of the artistic elements, which is a shame, but at least the movie makes sense, and I actually know more clearly what the mysterious women are and what they want. This cut of the film is also a good deal shorter than the 103 minute original, at only 88 minutes long.

I can't complain much about the changes in characterization, since there wasn't a whole lot to work with when it came to quite a few characters in the original. Probably the biggest is in regards to Udo Kier's character Werner, who in the context off the re-dub is a hermaphrodite, as a result of a botched attempt at turning a Spermulite human, making them a visible male rather than female. This new addition is easier said than done when said actor is literally never out of his tuxedo. Unfortunately the movie can do nothing with the concept, as Kier's character isn't a hermaphodite in the original film. A disappointment, because I'm now picturing Spermula going all out with a nude Udo Kier with double genitals! C'mon, you know that's what you assumed someone like Udo Kier would be up to in this movie, didn't you!

The humour here is pretty puerile and immature for the most part. Some lines are pretty funny ("This is the missionary position...It is recommended by the church, though attempts to actually enjoy it are discouraged.", "Open your mouth, spread your legs, and conquer."), but most are pretty weak. There's also a lack of humour in the last half-hour. Again, it's a hassle ending the movie when the original conclusion was wildly different (and also way darker in some elements) than yours.

This incarnation of Spermula is of course toned down from the original, but not by a whole lot. While the more explicit close-ups have been excised, a lot of the sex scenes remain relatively intact, and some even contain extra seconds of footage that aren't in the French version. The twenty-six* minutes this version of the film is missing is a lot of  stuff with side characters, particularly with the abusive M. Grop, and the crazy mother.

*This paragraph was from a previous draft. Not sure how how I got the number 26, but I'm mentioning this for posterity in-case it turns out that's actually correct, and Wikipedia/IMDb's listed running times are borked up. Pretty sure they're not, but I'll leave this little note here just in-case.

I'm not sure if I recommend this version of Spermula any more or less then the previous one. You'd probably do best to steer clear, but I suppose it is a fun movie to say you've watched! FIY, I've seen it around 5 times at this stage. No, not because I like it that much, but rather I was going to write a review the first time, never got around to it, was going to do the same on my second viewing (well, viewings, what with it being two movies), and also never got around to it. Well at least this time I have, so I never fucking have to see Spermula ever again!...Unless I do end up writing that essay on it. Oh crap...

Vampyros Lesbos( 1971) and She Killed in Ecstasy (1971)

By far the most famous muse of Spanish exploitation filmmaker Jesus 'Jess' Franco was Soledad Miranda, who appeared in a bundle of his movies in the late 60's/early 70's, and was well on the way to bigger and better things, with a career that only had up to go. Then she tragically died in a traffic accident in 1971, cutting her life far too short...

Vampyros Lesbos

Legal agent Linda Westinghouse goes on assignment to a secluded island off the coast of Turkey, where the mysterous Countess Nadine Carody resides. The alluring woman makes quick working in getting Linda naked and putting the moves on her, who she then bites. Linda then has a breakdown, and wakes up in a clinic, run by a man who knows a little too much about vampires. While her memory may be temporarily shot, she can't ignore the call of Nadine to come back to the island, forever...

Vampyros Lesbos is a mixed bag. It looks fabulous, and is entertaining, but on the other hand, the story could be better. It's not necessarily that the film's too short, and could've been longer, but rather that some scenes feel a bit pointless, and we could've delved more into the plot. The film does focus on cultivating a more dreamlike tone and story, but I wish there was more interesting story to go along with that, but ultimately the movie doesn't really explore everything quite as much as it could have. There are still some great scenes though, such as the countesses monologue about her past.

Lesbos is partially an adaptation of Dracula, but more of a spiritual one rather than literal. There are plenty of plot elements shared, from Dracula being a part of the countesses past, to Dr. Seward, a clinic with a Renfield stand-in (of course a frequently nude lesbian woman in this version), as well as the plot of an estate agent going to an isolated property to do business with the owner, and feeling progressively more trapped and delirious as the story goes on. There are just as many differences too, which is ok, because like I said, it's not a straight adaptation (pun not intended).

Coming back to the flaws, there are a few parts of the movie where I felt it missed the mark. One being that we don't see much of Linda in Nadine's company before she goes somewhat cookoo for crazy puffs and ends up in Dr. Seward's clinic. It also feels like there are scenes missing in that section of the film. There's also an odd subplot involving a deranged serial killer played by Franco himself. What makes it so strange is how before coming to the island, Linda witnesses this guy murdering a woman, and he speaks to her, yet next scene there's no mention of this and she does nothing about it.

One thing that confused me was why the violently man-hating Nadine has a male manservant in Morpho. That's not a complaint with the story, necessarily, I just would've been keen to know why.

The direction here is fantastic, with many extremely well-shot scenes. Possibly the best part of this movie, it really helps elevate it beyond your typical vampire cinema.

The set design is wonderful too, and replete with gorgeous colouring. It'll please Franco to no end that some of his sleazy-ass movies could be shown in film classes on how to direct and stage a shot! The dude was seriously talented when he wasn't burning himself out on both ends with making hundreds of films of utter garbage quality at worst.

The score to Vampyros Lesbos is very well-regarded, and built up quite the following. Some tracks on it I really like, while others are weird and somewhat annoying. I'm not sure how to feel about the odd distorted radio piece. Is it effective in building a surreal atmosphere, or is it just annoying? I'm leaning more towards the latter. Had it sounded more overtly distorted and creepy, it could've been effective, but it just sounds like random radio chatter, and doesn't really work.

As for the acting, Soledad Miranda is great as the evil, yet human Countess Carody. The rest is all pretty fine, albeit a bit hard to judge when in another language.

By the way, a random thought that came to mind: This may have been inspired by The Vampire Lovers and its themes and popularity, though I'm not sure. This only came out in 1971, whereas Vampire Lovers was 1970. However, Jess Franco was nothing if not efficient, and I have little doubt that he saw that movie and said to himself "Perfect idea! I can make a movie like that!" and did just that before 8 months had even passed! But then again, pre-Vampire Lovers lesbian vamp flicks were a little more prevalent in Europe than English speaking countries, so maybe the two movies are unrelated. It's likely, I guess.

Vampyros Lesbos isn't perfect, and I don't consider it to be one of the best lesbian vampire movies, but it is still quite a decent flick, and visually fantastic!...

She Killed in Ecstasy

Scientist Dr. Johnson has developed viable stem cell research, using aborted human embryos, and is eager to use his discovery to make a difference in the world of medicine, but the medical board don't see it that way. They brand him an evil criminal, butcher, and murderer, vilifying him as nothing more than a deranged mad scientist. They have him disbarred, and want him in jail too. His whole life completely in tatters, the only thing the doctor has left in life is his ultra sexy wife, but nothing can save him from his downward spiral, and he commits suicide, leaving his wife distraught. Having stood by him proudly while he was alive, Mrs. Johnson plans on getting revenge on the men and women responsible for her husband's death...

She Killed in Ecstasy is a surprisingly simple film. A woman is wronged, she gets her revenge, and that's literally it. After what happens to her husband, Mrs. Johnson seduces and kills off his persecutors one by one, and then the movie ends, quite abruptly too! What's here is pretty well-written, and you really feel for both Dr. Johnson, and his wife. Still surprisingly relevant even today, too, with the ever-present controversy surrounding abortion, stem cell research, etc.

The late great Soledad Miranda delivers a great visual performance, looking both alluring and seductive, as well as nailing down her character's emotions, and growing instability. I say only visual, because like with Vampyros Lesbos, this movie is dubbed into German. No idea if the original Spanish version is available on English DVD's. Whatever the case, Renate Kuster did the German dub acting for Miranda, which is a shame. I want to hear her act for herself. Oh well, better than an ill-fitting American dub, at least.

Now to discuss the ending. *ah-hem* AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY DID NO-ONE WARN ME HOW THE MOVIE ENDS?! WHYYYYYY?! Thus concludes my discussion on the ending. I won't spoil it, but...bewarned!

The look of She Killed in Ecstasy is great! Vibrant and colourful, with fantastic direction and cinematography, Jess Franco sure does know how to make an incredibly stunning visual opus.

The death scenes here are well handled. Pretty violent, but not overly graphic, thanks to low-budget. That is to say, there's plenty of blood, but most stabs are offscreen, and we just see lots of the red stuff smeared on the actors. There's one murder that involves suffocation through a clear plastic cushion, and it's probably the best in the movie. It's also a little confusing though, considering the wig Miranda is wearing, I thought she was a different character before the murder started, and because we'd seen so little of the female board member, I didn't know which of these characters were which. Especially confusing since the Doctor is the one who initiates the seduction, rather than the murderess. You'd think it'd be the other way around! Also, kinda amusingly contrived that said doctor just so happens to be into women!

The soundtrack, re-using some tracks from Vampyros Lesbos (ever thrifty, Jess!) is really good, and lends an air of 70's funk to the proceedings.

Speaking of re-used, much of the cast and crew attached to this movie were also carried over from Vampyros Lesbos. There's Soledad Miranda of course, Ewa Stromberg, Paul Muller (in a bigger role here), and Franco himself playing one of the doctors. Howard Vernon is also here, which isn't a surprise seeing as the man had a career in appearing in Jess Franco's movies. It's frankly more surprising he wasn't in Vampyros!

She Killed in Ecstasy may be a simple movie, but it's one of Jess Franco's best, for good reason. It's well worth a watch...

Soledad Miranda was definitely a sight to behold, and managed to intrigue and captivate many an audience, despite a short-lived career. I highly recommend checking these two movies out! Even if they disappoint, she most likely won't...

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Lesbian vampire movies are a dime-a-dozen, and while they existed in Europe as early as the 1960's, it was the Hammer horror film The Vampire Lovers that most consider to have started the subgenre's popularity in the mainstream. Not too hard to believe, since the two biggest countries when it came to Cinema at the time were America and England, and the former likes to pretend foreign movies don't exist at the best of times let alone the 1970's...

In 19th century era Austria, an evil is sweeping the land. After a party, the General von Spielsdorf lets the young Marcilla stay at his estate for a few days. As time goes on, his daughter Laura builds a connection with the new guest, but she also begins to weaken, before finally dying, bearing a mysterious wound on her breast. Following this, Marcilla vanishes, and a short while later, emerges now as Carmilla, using a similar ploy as before to enmesh herself in another household, befriending the daughter Emma, who instantly takes a liking to her. Unfortunately for poor Emma, the same fate that befell Laura is starting to happen to her, and while she may thing Carmilla is a friend, and perhaps more, she's really the evil vampire Mircalla Karnstein...

The Vampire Lovers is an enjoyable horror film, and pretty traditional vampire fare. Not overly cliched, and well-written, for the most part.

Next up is the structure. An interesting touch to the movie is how the first act showcases how Mircalla works, showing the vampiress tricking her way into a household, befriending and seducing the daughter, seemingly comforting her as she progressively grows sicker, until dying. Then, the rest of the movie is the same again, but with Emma, and longer. On one hand this is effective, as it shows what Mircalla's like, and how she operates, building up how much of a threat she is. But on the other hand, it kinda robs the proceedings of suspense, as we know exactly what's going to happen. The story is actually a bit boring as a result, as it's the exact same one we saw previously, but double the length. Because of the first segment taking up the first third of the movie, certain things in the remainder of the film are rushed, such as the beginnings of Emma and Carmilla's friendship, as well as the former's sudden comfort in being totally in the nude with her new pal.

There's also a pretty major inconsistency with the script. Why does Mircalla spend so long with some victims, but drain others instantly? Maybe she craves love too, and only wants it from people like Laura and Emma, while not giving a thrupenny fuck about anyone else? I suppose, but that's not quite explored as much as I would've liked.

Also annoying are the random cutaways to the vampiric man in black. His presence is entirely superfluous, and also bugs me because I like to think Mircalla is working on her own (not counting the woman she has helping in her schemes), rather than being an underling to a bigger bad. I also feel his presence undercuts the ending a tad. If done right, this character's presence could add an air of mystery to the film, but for that to succeed, he should've been made to do more than just sit laughing whenever the camera feels like cutting to him.

The main thing of note in The Vampire Lovers is of course the lesbian aspect, which is very important in regards to the relationships between Mircalla and her victims, particularly Emma, as we see the most of them together. There's a lot of subtext too that one could read in to the movie. Ultimately, this aspect made the film more unique on its release than other dime-a-dozen vampire flicks!

There are a couple of random little things about the story that bug me. First is the incomplete task Baron von Hartog did in wiping out the Karnsteins. Had he been bothered to just come back the next day when he was feeling less exhausted, or gotten someone else to help, they could've rid Styria's vampire problem permanently! But nope, he felt too exhausted to come back, and just assumed he was finished. Bang up job you did, Hartog! Second is more of an amusingly stupid moment, when the doctor is attacked by Mircalla, and draws a cross in the dirt! That's even worse than holding two sticks together! Naturally this hilarious endeavour does not turn out well.

The acting here is all fine, with some great performances. The great Ingrid Pitt is perfect in the role of Carmilla, exuding a seductive evil, while Madeline Smith is nice, with a sense of innocence and charm as Emma, and you really feel for her. Peter Cushing, in a more supporting role, is also pretty good.

The effects are all fine, if a little chuckleworthy here and there. The locale is great though, lending much to the film's setting.

The Vampire Lovers is one of the best lesbian vampire films in cinema, which might not sound like much to your average moviegoer, but it's more reliable a guideline than saying Shock Waves is the best nazi zombie movie (because of course it is, since every other one is garbage!). I highly recommend it, whether you're a fan of vampires, Gothic horror, or just spooky shenanigans in general...