At Castle Karnstein, the Count (Mike Raven) performs a black mass using a young woman as a sacrifice. With the blood of the girl, he resurrects the body of his daughter Carmilla. At the same time Richard LeStrange is in the nearby village listening to local folklore about vampires. LeStrange is a writer whose novels are about vampires and witches. The local tavern owner tells him that every 40 years the Karnsteins return from the dead and kill young virgins. Today is the anniversary of that date.
Needing some inspiration for his next book LeStrange goes to the castle to check it out. At the castle he finds himself surrounded by three women. LeStrange is spooked until he finds out that the girls are from the nearby Miss Simpson’s School for Girls. The girls are with their professor, Giles Barton (Ralph Bates). Barton introduces LeStrange to the owner of the school, Miss Simpson (Helen Christie), and one of the other teachers, Janet Playfair (Suzanna Leigh). While LeStrange is at the school a carriage arrives. On board are the countess Herritzen (Barbara Jefford) and her daughter, Miracalla (Yutte Stensgaard). As soon as he sees Miracalla, LeStrange falls madly in love with her.
At the local pub LeStrange meets Arthur Biggs, a recently hired English teacher for the school. LeStrange gives Biggs a snow job about being interested in a manuscript the teacher is writing and convinces him that he needs to go to Vienna. With Biggs out of the way, LeStrange manages to take over his position at the school. LeStrange and Giles Barton become roommates.
As soon as Miracalla shows up at the school, one of the girls, Susan Pelley (Pippa Steel) goes missing. Barton is the history teacher and is fascinated with the Karnstein family. After exhaustive research he figures out that Miracalla is actually the vampire Carmilla Karnstein. Barton confronts Miracalla and vows to service her. Miracalla kills him and drinks his blood. With Susan missing and Barton found dead the school is becoming a dangerous place to be.
“Lust for a Vampire” AKA “Love for a Vampire” AKA “To Love a Vampire” was released in 1971 and was directed by Jimmy Sangster. It is a British horror movie produced by Hammer Film Studios. It is also the second film done by Hammer in what is referred to as the Karnstein trilogy. The Karnsteins are a family of vampires and although the three films are based on characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu in his 1872 book “Carmilla” they are not direct sequels. What they do have in common are Lesbian themes and the Karnstein name.
Despite having a cult following “Lust for a Vampire” got panned by critics and much of the viewing audience. It also got banned in a few places and cuts were made here and there. Part of the problem with the film was a ridiculous love song called “Strange Love” that plays during the love scene between LeStrange and Miracalla. Neither one of the characters in the scene are really sympathetic so a romantic love song in the middle of a horror movie is a little off and totally camp. Other than that, the movie is mostly just standard vampire stuff with some lesbian touches.
The voice of Count Karnstein was dubbed by Valentine Dyall. There is also a little stock footage used in the film. The fire scene is taken from “Scars of Dracula” 1970 and an insert of Count Karnstein’s bloodshot eyes are really those of Christopher Lee from another Hammer film.