Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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One night at the (Vampire) Circus

Having milked Dracula for all it was worth, in the early ’70s Hammer Films turned their gaze to other vampires and, taking advantage of the more relaxed censorship rules, created what is called the Karnstein Trilogy, very loosely based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu Carmilla (that you can find here as a free download in case you missed it).
The three movies in the cycle are The Vampire Lovers (1970), Lust for a Vampire (1971) and Twins of Evil (1971), and are considered classics – and I will have to write about them sooner or later.
The Karnstein vampires are different from their Transylvanian counterparts, being generally female, much more inclined to nudity and most importantly being able to go about in open daylight.
The Karnstein vampires would make two more appearances in the Hammer Films catalog: once in Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, in 1974 and before that, a band of Karnstein vampires in all but name brought madness and death to a small Serbian Village in Vampire Circus (1972).

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Vampires

Last night I pulled out two things from my shelf – my copy of the Hammer movie Vampire Circus (1971) and my copy of J. Gordon Melton’s The Vampire Book, a massive encyclopedia of the undead that is part of my somewhat extensive collection of non-fiction books on the subject. I was quite surprised when I discovered The Vampire Book was published in 1994 – is it really been that long?
This led me to reflect on the reason for my general dislike for vampires in the last few years – the Vampire roleplaying game, that first came out in 1992. Suddenly vampires where hot in the ’90s, and as it usually happens, the surge of recent converts to the new faith caused me to look somewhere else for my thrills.

Me, I was a Ravenloft sort of guy, or even better a Warhammer Fantasy RPG sort of guy, when it came to roleplaying vampires.
Even better – a Chill sort of guy.

As for stories…

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The other Van Helsing

I was watching Brides of Dracula last night. The 1960 Hammer movie directed by Terence Fisher does not feature Dracula at all – the Count is name-checked in the title and in the spoken intro – and given for dead – and the main vampire in the picture is Baron Meinster (David Peel), on the rampage in search of young women’s blood in an out-of-the-way corner of Transylvania. It’s a good fun movie, with a lot of original touches, despite the presence of a very dodgy bat. And of course there’s Yvonne Monlaur, that is absolutely gorgeous, in the role of student teacher Marianne Danielle – the damsel in distress of the piece, all the way from Paris to Transylvania to get in a whole lot of trouble.

And we get Peter Cushing, reprising his role as Doctor Van Helsing. Maybe.

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More Mummy

Something has been nagging at the back of my mind since I posted my non-review of The Mummy, and finally this afternoon – possibly inspired by the Egyptian-desert-grade heat here where I live – I finally got it.
Because there was something –  the new mummy movie featuring Tom Cruise is actually closer to a “reboot” of the 1971 Hammer classic Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb than than any Universal Mummy film.

We get the lot: the cursed, evil Egyptian queen, the resurrection/reincarnation bit, and the world shattering plot.
Nice and smooth. Continue reading