Everyone does know about Carmilla, correct? If not, here’s a little history. Carmilla is the bite-happy vampire in author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 novella Carmilla. The bewitching vampire predates Dracula by 25 years, so suck on that fact, Count!
Why is the horror world more impacted by Dracula than Carmilla? After all, Bram Stoker and Dracula owe a great debt to Carmilla. Hmm, can we say that Carmilla’s taste for a woman’s neck makes her a tad shocking in the horror realm? I am not a scholar, I’m a horror fan, but I can cobble together enough facts and figures to amuse myself.
Nosferatu, F. W. Murnau’s 1922 vampire film adapted from the Dracula story, had no problem showing Count Orlok putting the bite on young women. In 1931’s Dracula, the classic featuring Bela Lugosi, the Count sank his fangs into more than one female victim’s pale neck.
When Danish director Carl Dreyer released the 1932 film Vampyr, the story was based on Camilla, but any references to lesbian sexuality were staked. The atmospheric film is excellent, as is most anything by Dreyer, but he opted to shunt aside the real subject matter.
This leads me to believe that back in the early twentieth century people didn’t object to graphic neck biting, no, people objected to the female performing the biting on another female. Granted female vampires can put the bite on males, no problem there; think of Dracula’s brides and other female vampires fluttering about in the supernatural ether. Does supernatural ravishment by a powerful woman turn on some men? Sorry, my team of analysts, namely my muse Diva Faboo, provides me nothing solid on the subject. The men must enjoy it or it wouldn’t show up in horror films.
It appears that female vampires can bite men, but biting women is taboo. I mean what the hell, even in the world of the supernatural lesbians can’t gain any respect.
I did a rough check of Dracula films. I found 70 listed. Plenty of these are silly; Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, anyone, but still, 70 films. On a side note, the film Dracula’s Daughter also owes a rough debt to the Carmilla story line. Universal Studies even admitted that they toyed with the lesbian angle but only in a brief sideswipe.
Including Dreyer’s Vampyr, Carmilla has around seven films directly linked to her. Is this a case of supernatural discrimination? Of these films, Hammer’s 1970’s film The Vampire Lovers is surprisingly good. The usual over the top silliness that plagues many Hammer films is largely absent. Although the movie lover would not know it by viewing the garish promo poster, the movie is elegant and restrained. 1971’s Lust For a Vampire and Twins of Evil, the second and third films in Hammer’s Karnstein Trilogy, aren’t anywhere as stylish or logical. In fact, they represent a waste of film.
Here it is 2012 and although our lady of the fangs Carmilla is referenced in pop culture such as True Blood, Doctor Who, and in music, it has been too long since she’s been properly celebrated in film. If I had my way, well hell, I’d cast either Angelina Jolie or Kate Beckinsale in the toothy role. Too bad Michele Pfeiffer is a little too long in the tooth to play the mysterious vampire. I’d let her bite my neck any old day of the week.
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