Lust for a Vampire

Lust For a Vampire (also known as Love for a Vampire or To Love a Vampire (the latter title was used on American television)) is a 1971 British Hammer Horror film directed by Jimmy Sangster, starring Ralph Bates, Barbara Jefford, Suzanna Leigh, Michael Johnson, and Yutte Stensgaard. It was given an R rating in the United States for some violence, gore, strong adult content, and nudity. It is the second film in the so-called Karnstein Trilogy loosely based on the J. Sheridan Le Fanu novella Carmilla. It was preceded by The Vampire Lovers (1970) and followed by Twins of Evil (1971). The three films do not form a chronological development, but use the Karnstein family as the source of the vampiric threat and were somewhat daring for the time in explicitly depicting lesbian themes.

Lust for a Vampire
US theatrical release poster
Directed byJimmy Sangster
Produced byMichael Style
Harry Fine
Screenplay byTudor Gates
Based onCharacters
by Sheridan Le Fanu
StarringRalph Bates
Barbara Jefford
Suzanna Leigh
Music byHarry Robinson
CinematographyDavid Muir
Edited bySpencer Reeve
Distributed byMGM-EMI Distributors (UK)
American Continental Films (US)
Release date
  • 17 January 1971 (1971-01-17)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Production of Lust For a Vampire began not long after the release of The Vampire Lovers.

The film has a cult following although some Hammer Horror fans have accused it of being overly camp and silly. Its most noted scene shows Yutte Stensgaard drenched in blood and partially covered by blood-soaked rags, although the filmed scene is not as explicit as that shown in a promotional still.[1]

Other notable actors in the film are Ralph Bates, Harvey Hall (who has a different role in each film of this series), David Healy and popular radio DJ Mike Raven as Count Karnstein. Karnstein's voice, however, is dubbed by an uncredited Valentine Dyall.[2]


In 1830, at a finishing school in Styria, Mircalla arrives as a new student. A visiting author, Richard Lestrange, instantly falls in love with her; but Mircalla is a vampireCarmilla Karnsteinwho has been resurrected by her vampiric family. As students in the school, inhabitants of the nearby village and those who suspect Mircalla is responsible start to die, suspicion turns toward the Karnsteins and their ominous castle.



Jimmy Sangster replaced Terence Fisher as director at very short notice. Partially due to censorship restraints from the British Board of Film Classification,[3] this film and the next one, Twins of Evil, had increasingly less overt lesbian elements in the story than did The Vampire Lovers. Carmilla, for example, in this film falls in love with a man. Ingrid Pitt was offered the lead but turned it down. Peter Cushing was supposed to have appeared in the film but bowed out to care for his sick wife. Cushing was replaced by Ralph Bates, who described Lust for a Vampire as "one of the worst films ever made".[4] Bates had earlier appeared in Taste the Blood of Dracula with Madeline Smith, who starred in the previous Karnstein film, The Vampire Lovers. The song "Strange Love" was recorded for the film by Tracy, a teen singer from Wembley, produced as a 45" by Bob Barratt.

Critical reception

The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films panned the film, calling it a "cynical and depressing exercise...", noting that " can only imagine what Fisher, Cushing and Bray's craftsmen might have made of Gates' reasonably literate draft."[5] However, The Hammer Vampire: British Cult Cinema by Bruce G Hallenbeck, says that "there is much to recommend it. I think it was a very good script," Tudor Gates told me (Hallenbeck), "I think, in a way, it was the better of the first two", with Hallenbeck noting that Gothic atmosphere is "ably evoked".

See also


  1. Huckvale, David (2009). Touchstones of Gothic Horror: A Film Genealogy of Eleven Motifs and Images. McFarland & Co. p. 105. ISBN 978-0786447824. OCLC 496518543.
  2. "Lust for a Vampire (1971) Full Cast and Crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  3. Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (2007). The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films. Titan. ISBN 1-84576-185-5.
  4. Maxford, Howard (1996). Hammer, House of Horror: Behind the Screams. Batsford. p. 110. ISBN 0-87951-652-6.
  5. Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 142.


  • Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (25 September 2007). "Lust for a Vampire". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films [The Hammer Story] (Limited ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 978-1845761851. OCLC 493684031.
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