Count Karnstein, not Dracula.Plot:
Bored of his womanizing and occasional satanist rites, count Karnstein accidentally revives an ancestor and is turned a vampire. With his new urges controlling him, he sets his eyes on the nieces of a local puritan, one innocent and the other one anxious for escaping their restrictive household.Comments:
Although I enjoy Hammer films inmensely, it's been a while until I've checked the so-called Karnstein trilogy. This one is actually the third of the films, bein a prequel of sorts (or so I've been led to think) to "The Vampire Lovers" and "Lust for a vampire".
One of the reasons it took me so long to check this one out is that I didn't enjoy some of the earlier Hammer vampire films outside of the Dracula saga, like "Vampire's Kiss". And then there's the exploitation aura that surrounds this film as well as some other Hammer films of the 70s. I even read Hammer cast the two young girls that star in this one after seeing nude pictures of them in an adult magazine! To make things even more outrageous, the film was titled in Spain "Dracula and the twins" in order to lure fans of Christopher Lee into the theatres.
So imagine my surprise, because this has to be one of the best Hammer films of the 1970s. Although Hammer had started to become thrifty in their film budgets by those days, the film looks gorgeous. Even better, unlike some of their earlier stuff it is fast paced and generously doused with gore and erotism.
The cast is a mixed bag. The girls are OK... Maltese in origin, they were dubbed and look great in corsets. Apart from that, nothing to mention, neither in the right or wrong sides. Damien Thomas is entertaing as the vampire Count Karnstein, but he won't makes us forget Christopher Lee. The hero (David Warbeck) is a bit bland. The best in the cast is Peter Cushing, who thankfully is given plenty to do, from burning alleged witches to sulking at pretty much everything for not being Christian enough. As one reviewer aptly put it, he is scarier than the villain and braver than the hero, and this could be one of his most effective performances.Ahem... symbolism. Or something.