Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

All Hallows' Month: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Without Hammer Studios' button-pushing (or button-popping, if you will) The Vampire Lovers, there'd be no True Blood.  The original vampire lore as envisioned by Bram Stoker has always carried the air of erotica to it, as in the seduction, arousal and ultimate subjugation by a powerful male from an otherworld.  Of course, it's only natural over the course of horror history the tables should be turned with a female lead vampire doing the conquering.

Never mind Dracula's trio of vampire wives who have been depicted in various horror flicks over time.  It was Ingrid Pitt in The Vampire Lovers who broke the mold on what we should typically expect from a nosferatu.  Based on J. Sheridan Le Fanu's novella, Carmilla, The Vampire Lovers breached turf that had been flirted with prior to, but not yet shoved full-frontal. 

It's easy enough to flip roles by featuring a vampire temptress of men and that plot has been churned infinitum since The Vampire Lovers.  In this case, Hammer Studios boldly pushed its thumb down upon the genre with this first entry into what's become known as "The Karnstein Trilogy."  Followed by Lust for a Vampire (1971) and Twins of Evil (1972), The Vampire Lovers shined a mirror upon vampire lesbianism.

Vilified by some, celebrated by others, I would offer that The Vampire Lovers is s stylish slow-cooker that satiates horror purists, Goths and of course, perverts.  Without a doubt, the freeing of the ta-tas all over this film gives it its primary (and primal) allure.  Nudity in horror was just starting to come into itself around this time, but what's impressive about the film is how Ingrid Pitt uses her feminine wiles and purported naiveté to succumb her female victims--those she doesn't just grab and kill outright.  Normally this would be used as artillery against weak-willed males.  Pitt's seduction of Emma Morton is handled rather sensitively, even as Emma's goodies are paraded about, to be claimed by Pitt's evil blood sipper, Carmilla.  It's the doe-eyed, nubile Emma (played by Madeline Smith), barely aware she's being raped in a different manner, that sets the terror zone of The Vampire Lovers.

Ingrid Pitt, in my opinion, is the finest (using both connotations of the word) onscreen lady vampire who ever lived.  Surrounded by a hearty cast including the illustrious Peter Cushing and George Cole (who played a young Scrooge in the Alastair Sim Christmas Carol), The Vampire Lovers is titillating (a-duh), but the expectedly gory dispatching of Carmilla at the end puts this one relatively high in the fang bang genre.  Classy or sleazy, you be the judge.  Superficial assets sadly being one of its draws for me personally, I'm fond of this one for its other attributes aside from the obvious.

                          Listenin' to:  Prince - Art Official Age

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