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Lust For A Vampire (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory’s devotion to Hammer Horror continues in 2019 (Wait until you see the Hammer stuff coming in September) with a title unreleased on Blu-ray so far (And has a bit of demand) with Lust For A Vampire. The second film in the noted Karnstein trilogy, it will be making its debut here with some fresh new bonus materials and a 4K scan from the original negative. While reviled by many (Even those who worked on the film), Lust For A Vampire has a pretty solid cult following and really fits the bill to be a Scream Factory release (In the UK, it is being released a few weeks after this one by Studio Canal). Lust For A Vampire releases on July 30th (Same day as The Reptile) and is available for pre-order by going to the Shout! Factory website or by clicking on the Amazon link that follows the review.

Film 

In Lust for a Vampire, a mysterious man performs rites of black magic, bringing the notorious female vampire Carmilla Karnstein back to life. Looking to quench her bloodlust for the fairer sex, she enrolls at an exclusive girl’s school as the young debutante Mircalla (Yutte Stensgaard), and begins to feast on her fellow students as well as indulging in her unholy desires for a teacher. With the death toll mounting at both the school and the nearby village, can anyone stop Carmilla’s evil ways?

A novice to this film, I had heard it was either bad or a delicious good bad time. Overall, I kind of fell somewhere toward the middle of that spectrum. Which is fitting as Lust for a Vampire is the middle film of a thematic trilogy that also features The Vampire Lovers and Twins of Evil (Not the Marilyn Manson/Rob Zombie double bill concert tour). Mostly, this film delivers your typical Hammer goods, it just has a lesser cast and much more clumsily goes about its execution.

Lust for a Vampire was originally going to have Hammer’s top dog director Terrance Fisher at the helm. In addition, Peter Cushing was to star in the film. Who knows what that film was to be. It could have been legendary in the opposite direction. Instead, we get some pretty campy or downright dull performances. There is even some strange and over the top ADR going on with the film that just adds to the air of weird and silliness.

The film does sport some decent gore and really attempts to progress the whole lesbian vampire theme from the last movie further with this, the film just doesn’t know how to get it across or make it alluring. Overall, there are some good moments to laugh as well as ones to appreciate for their horror atmosphere or the Hammer sets and costumes. Sure, its a clunker, but to me its that kind of collector item rarity clunker that could be fun to check out again down the road with a few others and the right mindset (And beverage).

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 or 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Lust for a Vampire debuts on Blu-ray from Scream Factory boasting a brand new 4K scan of the negative. This one looks a bit grainier, but overall delivers some good clean detail, with a nice vintage Hammer Horror look. Most of the best details come in closer proximity, but its not like its void or smoothed over when its harder to make out. Its not going to set the world on fire, but overall, if you been satisfied with the previous Scream Factory Hammer releases, this one should suit you well enough.

Depth:  Some pretty solid depth of field on display, especially in some of the exterior sequences, with background looking pretty far off in the distance. Movements are cinematic and natural with no distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and carry more grain with them. I didn’t notice any instances of crushing through it, but I’m not going to argue if someone else finds it.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty good and bold and the red has that real Hammer pop to it. This has a nice 1970s look to the colors with greens sticking out and many of the more colorful fabrics coming through strong.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures like make-up, stubble, wrinkles and more look pretty good in close ups and a decent amount of medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Lust for a Vampire comes complete with a pretty nice mono track. Its in pretty solid shape, with a pretty solid balance, though the score does get a little loud in some spots. Overall its a solid accompaniment to the video.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear with a little analog hiss and plenty loud.

Extras 

Lust For A Vampire comes with reversible cover art featuring one of the original poster designs.

Audio Commentary

  • By author/film historian Bruce Hallenbeck
  • By director Jimmy Sangster, star Suzanna Leigh and Hammer Films historian Marcus Hearn

Interview With Actress Mel Churcher (HD, 3:35) – She talks filming it under a different title and recalls a dance sequence and a schoolroom scene. Churcher made a friend during this “happy time” that lasted many decades. She recalls what she remembers of Ralph Bates and how the director treated them very nicely and like schoolgirls.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:41)

Radio Spots (HD, 1:33)

Still Gallery (HD, 9:49)

Poster and Lobby Card Still Gallery (HD, 4:57)

Summary 

Lust for a Vampire is a camp classic that is either reviled or embraced in the world of Hammer Horror. Even its detractors may embrace it on Blu-ray just for the sake of a complete collection. The audio and video proves up to snuff with most Shout! Factory Hammer Blu-ray releases. The extras are super slim, but you can tell they’ve done what they can with what was probably in the range of their costs. For a decent price, this is a nice collectible.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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