5. The Velvet Vampire (1971): In one of the few lesbian vampire flicks directed by a woman (Stephanie Rothman), The Velvet Vampire has a feminist twist (I'm not telling you what it is). Desert-dwelling vampire Diane LeFanu (Celeste Yarnall) comes to town one day and meets young, hippie couple Lee and Susan Ritter. Yes, Diane proceeds to seduce both of them — how did you guess? Perhaps because one of the most-used tropes of the lesbian vampire movie is a lesbian vampire engaged in a bisexual triangle with a straight man and an innocent (heretofore heterosexual) woman, who is desired by both.
4. The Vampire Lovers (1970): The first of the trilogy of films featuring lesbian vampires from the English horror studio Hammer Films, The Vampire Lovers stars buxom Polish actress Ingrid Pitt in a recreation of the LeFanu tale Carmilla. In the one major departure from the novella, the film is narrated by a male vampire hunter, thus enabling the male viewer to act as voyeur to a story that includes several scenes of nubile, topless young women as well as their vampiric mistress, Carmilla, aka Marcilla. (Her name, you see, is an anagram. Possibly symbolizing how one version of her is evil, the other an innocent young maiden seduced by the dark side — oops, that was a bit melodramatic.)
This film presents the typical story line that nearly all lesbian vampire movies follow: “a lesbian vampire and a mortal man compete for the possession of a woman,” as Weiss explains. The mortal man, of course, eventually triumphs by killing the lesbian vampire, thereby safely restoring heterosexual domination to the world. Unfortunately for him, the lesbian vampire — the “bad girl” — exhibits the stronger sexual attraction for the innocent, previously vampire — straight woman. Of course, it's possible that this is due to the fact that the men in lesbian vampire films, including The Vampire Lovers, are stupid and boorish in comparison to the sophisticated, elegant seductions of the lesbian vampire, who has had centuries to perfect her sexiness and acquire a seriously killer wardrobe.
3. Blood and Roses (1960): One of the earlier lesbian vampire movies, Blood and Roses is also based on the Carmilla story — at least insofar as it includes a character named Carmilla, who becomes possessed by the spirit of a vampire ancestress. Interestingly, this film is narrated by Carmilla herself, and is less violent or sexual than later lesbian vampire films. This means that most of the lesbianism is highly subtextual and the film itself resembles an art film more than a horror movie. Ultimately, the vampire is destroyed, but her soul is transferred into the body of her victim, thereby living on after her death. The director, Roger Vadim, went on to write and direct Barbarella.
2. Daughters of Darkness (1971): In this cult classic, a newlywed couple decides to spend their honeymoon (yep, that's right) in an empty luxury hotel (substituting for the gloomy Gothic manor) on the Belgian coast. They encounter the sophisticated, coolly beautiful Countess Elizabeth Bathory and her “secretary,” a brunette with a pageboy and a nubile young body. The Countess Bathory is played with high style by French actress Delphine Seyrig, who supported many women's issues and went on to direct Look Beautiful and Keep Your Mouth Shut, starring Shirley MacLaine and Jane Fonda, about sexism in the film industry.
Daughters of Darkness departs from the typical lesbian vampire story line by its unusually feminist interpretation of men. In one scene, Countess Bathory, whose mature precision is tempered by bursts of what appears to be innocent sincerity, tells newlywed Valerie that her husband “wants to make of you what every man wants of every woman: a slave, a thing, an object for pleasure.” Valerie's husband, the least sympathetic character in this film, is not only a sadist who enjoys beating his wife with a belt, but is also a closeted homosexual (unfortunately). Although Countess Bathory dies in the end in a particularly spectacular moment of accidental violence, her spirit (if she has one) lives on in the character of Valerie, who is seen at the end of the film seducing another young couple, just as Countess Bathory did to her.
1. The Hunger (1983): This quintessential lesbian vampire movie stars the icy but stunning Catherine Deneuve as Miriam Blaylock (a character based on Countess Elizabeth Bathory) as she seduces a slightly butch scientist Sarah Roberts, played by Susan Sarandon (OK, it's the rolled-up T-shirt sleeves that do it for me). Directed by Tony vampire Scott, who went on to direct Top Gun and Domino (about reportedly nonlesbian bounty hunter Domino Harvey), The Hunger parts ways from traditional lesbian vampire movies by not only including an actual sex scene between the vampire and her victim (although yes, a body double is sometimes used for Catherine Deneuve in this scene), but also by allowing Miriam the vampire to live on in the body of Sarah.
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