Wednesday, July 13, 2011

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE - Harry Robertson/Frank Godwin/Tracy - "Strange Love" (1971)

As our pal Christopher so deftly pointed out, the Karnstein family of evil has been around for quite a while, serving up all kinds of nastiness! Long before the "Twins Of Evil" ever made the scene, there was a film released in 1964 titled "Crypt Of The Vampire" that starred Christopher Lee as Count Ludwig Karnstein, then in 1970 there was "The Vampire Lovers" that starred the marvelous Ingrid Pitt as Mircalla Karnstein, which brings us to tonight's feature released in 1971, right before the "Twins" that was called "Lust For A Vampire" and starred Mr. Mike Raven as Count Karnstein, and by no means should "Lust For A Vampire" get confused with the Mario Bava film that came out in 1956 called "Lust Of The Vampire," or "I, Vampiri!"

Even before the opening credits roll, the first sacrificial lamb is abducted with a closeup shot that you will notice gets used quite frequently throughout the whole picture!

It takes a lot of blood to awaken the ancient carcass of Carmilla/Mircalla which is understandable once you witness the transformation!

Literally the man in black, Mike Raven is Count Karnstein, the guy in charge of calling all the shots! Mike Raven was a popular Saturday night rhythm and blues DJ for a time in the UK, something that led insult to injury when they dubbed in his voice in "Lust For A Vampire" using the voice of veteran actor Valentine Dyall instead! Creepy Mike also starred in and helped finance "Crucible Of Terror," and "Disciple Of Death," and also was in "I, Monster." That's it, four films and on to be a sculptor and sheep farmer! What a guy!!

Just in case you thought things couldn't get any worse for Mike, in this closeup of Count Karnstein, they used Christopher Lee's eyes instead of Mike Raven's! Ouch!!

At least all that blood didn't go to waste, as Carmilla/Mircalla arises from her 40 year nap, lookin' pretty damned good!!

The locals are never too happy when a stranger comes to town, especially when there's been a string of murders of young nubiles going on!

Not wanting to mind his own business, and snooping around, the stranger has apparently run into a brood of hooded devil worshipers!!

Turns out it was only a bunch of beautiful girls from the local finishing school just out playing around!

As it states in the dreadful trailer, "Welcome to the finishing school, where they really do finish you!!"

I thought "Lust For A Vampire" was going to be just a soft-core vampire boobfest, and don't get me wrong, it does have it's fair share of pairs, but for the most part, "Lust For A Vampire" is misnamed, and is actually intelligent, and not too bad of a film! The newest student at the school is none other than a lovely young lady named Mircalla, who gets a little massage here from one of the other students!

The music used in "Lust For A Vampire" was written by a certain Mr. Harry Robertson, working here as Harry Robinson! Among his incredible accomplishments, Harry wrote the music for the 1960's musical variety TV show "Shindig!" In 1958 Harry had a chart topping hit for three weeks with a little ditty called "Hoots Mon" that was performed by Harry and his band working as Lord Rockingham's XI!!

The stranger that came to town was the guy on the right, Michael Johnson as author Richard Lestrange! With that hairdo, Richard looks like a cross between Chuck Barris of "The Gong Show" fame and some UK rocker! Most of Michael's work was for TV, starting his career in 1959 on "Manhunt," and closing it out in 1990 on "Perfect Scoundrels!" The Tiny Tim lookin' guy on the left is Jonathan Cecil as the new teacher Biggs!

Sly dog Richard has just tricked Biggs into leaving, so he can go teach at the girl's school in his place, and have all the girls to himself, and he is particularly interested in the one named Mircalla!

I honestly don't ever recall seeing this many closeups of different kinds in one movie lately!!

Ozzy Osbourne lookalike is Ralph Bates as Giles Barton! Giles has a skull on his desk because he's the spineless Headmaster at the school!! Ralph was the real life great, great nephew of Louis Pasteur, and was in a number of Hammer films like "Horror Of Frankenstein," "Taste The Blood Of Dracula," and "Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde!"

The gorgeous Dane Yutte Stensgaard is heavenly evil in the role of Carmilla/Mircalla! The former au pair changed her first name from Jytte to Yutte to make it easier for people to pronounce! Yutte's first appearance was in the 1968 film, "La Ragazza Con La Pistola," or "The Girl With The Pistol," she was also Robot Number Two in the Bulldog Drummond feature, "Some Girls Do," and was Erika in "Scream And Scream Again!" Unfortunately for us, Yutte got fed up with the whole scene and quit acting in 1973!

Comparing the olde and new, it's all starting to make sense now!

The only real problem is that even though Richard knows the truth about Carmilla/Mircalla, and here's the catch, the crazy guy's in love with her!!!

Stranger than anything I'd ever heard of in any Hammer vampire flick before, there's actually a pretty cool and moody little tune right in the middle of this big love making scene that musically puts this movie heads and pierced throats above your normal vampire film! The song was called "Strange Love," and was performed by Tracy! The music was written by Harry Robertson, and the lyrics were written by Frank Godwin!

As you watch Mircalla's eyes roll into the back of her head, you can listen to "Strange Love" as it was released as a single! It appears for all rights and purposes that Richard was quite the lover!!

It's amazing, Carmilla/Mircalla doesn't even bite him, because she's actually in love with him too! Now that's a twist, an undead person with a heart!

So they bring in Jack Melford as The Bishop, and it's a whopping big red on red ordeal. This would be Jack Melford's last appearance, as he died a few months later! He'd been acting since 1931!

The only real reason they brought The Bishop into the story was so that he could try to stop the villagers from burning up The Karnsteins, because he's the only one intelligent enough to know that it only burns their physical bodies, and that their undead souls will return to do more mayhem and damage to the innocent unless they get a stake through the heart!

Carmilla/Mircalla on the other hand wasn't as lucky as the other Karnsteins, and the living dead game is over for her!


Christopher said...

I remember in the early 70s seeing Roger Vadim's Blood and Roses(where the Le Fanu-Carmilla character gets started)and the italian Chris Lee film and Vampire Lovers,and thinking ,who the hell are these Karnsteins all the sudden?!'d they slip by me all this time..I actually watched Lust For a Vampire for what I thought was the first time last saturday(I'd avoided it for so long cuz of the cheesy bearded Chris Lee Drac-look-alike)but was delighted discovering I'd seen it before in those hazy days of yore.Its quite good.Got a little bit of everything going..Watched it with the Suzanna Leigh,Jimmy Sangster commentary which added to the fun.

Eegah!! said...

I'm surprised nobody ever made a movie about Frankarnstein!

Greg Goodsell said...

You have to check out Mike Raven in DISCIPLE OF DEATH. It becomes bloody obvious why they dubbed his voice in this film as his actual voice was an incredible fey lisp! To think he was a deejay!

Christopher said...

..and then theres WOLFSTEIN!..

TABONGA! said...

And, don't forget the Mexican... Frankestein!!

Anonymous said...

Was Richard LaStrange played by Barry Williams?

EEGAH!! said...

That's a completely different theory, but not undisputed!

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