Lust For A Vampire

Lust For A Vampire (1971)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Ralph Bates, Yutte Stensgaard, Michael Johnson
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer, Radio Spots, Still Gallery, Talent Bios

’Lust for a Vampire’ represents another fine addition to Anchor Bay’s Hammer Collection. In this 1971 film, vampire Count Karnstein (Mike Raven) reanimates the beautiful Camilla Karnstein (here played by Yutte Stensgaard) and sends her to a finishing school full of nubile young women, where she can recruit more disciples for the undead. Once there, she enslaves teacher Giles Barton (Ralph Bates, who is a dead-ringer for Jeffrey Combs), who immediately falls prey to her vampiric charms. A young lord, Richard Lestrange (Michael Johnson) is also new to the area, and finds himself drawn to the school as well. Richard falls in love with Janet (Suzanna Leigh), but finds himself being haunted by the beguiling Camilla. Soon, the entire town learns of the bloodsucker’s evildoings, and a hunt for Camilla and Count Karnstein begins.

This new Anchor Bay edition is the first time that ’Lust for a Vampire’ has been released in its uncut form in the U.S., and it shows both the good and bad aspects of the film. The movie suffered from a troubled production history and that is evident on-screen, as ’Lust for a Vampire’ feels very uneven at times. The most noticeable quality of the film is that it is more concerned with the ’lust’ than with the ’vampires’ and it’s not until the final reel that the action starts to ’heat up’. ’Lust for a Vampire’ has no shame in trotting out the lovely ladies of the finishing school and there is a surprising amount of T&A in the film. Yutte Stensgaard is stunning as Camilla, but she can’t change the fact that horror fans will find most of this film quite boring.

Anchor Bay has been able to resurrect a fine looking print of ’Lust for a Vampire’. The film has been letterboxed at 1.77:1 and is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image is clear and sharp, with only traces of minute grain and very minor defects from the source print. The colors here are sumptuous, and the reds (naturally) look fantastic. There is a slight amount of edge enhancement, but this won’t detract from viewing. The Dolby Digital Mono sound is serviceable, as it gives clear dialogue with no distortion.

This DVD contains an entertaining audio commentary featuring director Jimmy Sangster, actress Suzanna Leigh, and Hammer historian Marcus Hearn. Their chat is fun, and both Sangster and Leigh are able to remember a remarkable amount of details from the production. We are also treated to the film’s theatrical trailer and two radio spots. Equally impressive is the still gallery, which offers many rare publicity posters for the film. Rounding out the extras are bios for the main cast and crew.