The Karnstein Trilogy

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The Karnstein Trilogy is a series of vampire films produced by Hammer Films. They are notable at the time for their (for the time) daring lesbian storylines.[1] All three films were scripted by Tudor Gates. They are related by vampires of the noble Karnstein family, and their seat Castle Karnstein near the town of Karnstein in Styria, Austria.

The trilogy[edit]

  • The Vampire Lovers (1970), set in 1794 Styria, starred Polish-born Ingrid Pitt as lesbian vampire Countess Mircalla Karnstein (born 1522, died 1546). The film was based on the famous 1872 novella "Carmilla" by J. Sheridan Le Fanu;[1] the name Mircalla being an anagram of Carmilla, which is an alias Mircalla uses throughout the story.
  • Lust for a Vampire (1971), featured Danish actress Yutte Stensgaard as Mircalla's descendant Carmilla (born 1688, died 1710). Set in 1830 (it's suggested the Karnsteins reappear every 40 years), Carmilla adopts the name of her ancestor to seduce and murder her way through an exclusive girls' school.
  • Twins of Evil (1971) features Damien Thomas as Mircalla's descendant, the evil Count Karnstein. Mircalla herself, played by German actress Katya Wyeth, appears briefly (though her date of death is now given as 1547). The story concerns sisters Maria and Frieda Gellhorn (played by identical twin Playboy Playmates Mary Collinson and Madeleine Collinson). It is apparently a prequel to the first film:[2] it depicts a member of the Karnstein family as living instead of vampiric and the set design and costumes give the film a 17th-century look and feel, thus resulting in each of the three films being set in a different century.

Other films[edit]

A planned fourth film in the series, variously announced as either The Vampire Virgins or The Vampire Hunters, only got as far as the early draft stage.[3]

Vampire lore[edit]

The vampires of the Karnstein Trilogy differ from those of the Hammer Dracula films. Here, vampires can walk about in daylight and are immune to fire (their bodies are consumed, but their spirits just create or inhabit a new body). Their weaknesses are garlic and crosses, and the only ways to kill them is by staking them through their hearts or beheading them. Some of this lore is retained in the 1972 Hammer film Vampire Circus.

Cast and characters
  • A Y indicates the actor portrayed the role of a younger version of the character.
  • An O indicates a role as an older version of the character.
  • A V indicates the actor or actress lent only his or her voice for his or her film character.
  • An M indicates the model served as a body double, with the actor or actress's likeness superimposed onto the model.
  • An L indicates the actor or actress lent only their likeness for his or her film character.
  • A P indicates an appearance through a photographic still.
  • An A indicates an appearance through archival footage or audio.
  • A dark gray cell indicates the character was not in the film.
Character Main films
The Vampire Lovers Lust for a Vampire Twins of Evil
1970 1971
Marcilla "Carmilla"
Countess Mircalla Karnstein
Lady Durward
Ingrid Pitt Yutte Stensgaard Katya Wyeth
General Spielsdorf Giles Barton Peter Cushing Ralph Bates Peter Cushing
Gustav Weil
Landlord Charles Farrell Michael Brennan
Count Karnstein
Lord Hagen Durward
Mentioned Mike Raven Damien Thomas
1st Villager Nick Brimble
The Countess Karnstein Dawn Addams Mentioned
Roger Morton George Cole
The Governess
Mademoiselle Perrodot
Kate O'Mara
Emma Morton Madeline Smith
Baron Joachim von Hartog Douglas Wilmer
Carl Ebhardt Jon Finch
Doctor Ferdy Mayne
Laura Pippa Steel
The First Vampire Kirsten Lindholm
The Man in Black John Forbes-Robertson
Housekeeper Shelagh Wilcocks
Gretchin Janet Key
Renton Harvey Hall
Richard LeStrange Michael Johnson
The Countess Herritzen Barbara Jefford
Janet Playfair Suzanna Leigh
Miss Simpson Helen Christie
Inspector Heinrich Harvey Hall
Susan Pelley Pippa Steel
Amanda Judy Matheson
Raymond Pelley David Healy
Biggs Jonathan Cecil
Professor Herz Erik Chitty
Bishop Jack Melford
Hans Christopher Neame
Peasant Girl Kirsten Lindholm
Trudi Luan Peters
Coachman Chris Cunningham
Schoolgirl Sue Longhurst
Katy Weil Kathleen Byron
Maria Gellhorn Mary Collinson
Frieda Gellhorn Madeleine Collinson
Anton Hoffer David Warbeck
Joachim Roy Stewart
Ingrid Hoffer Isobel Black
Franz Harvey Hall
Hermann Alex Scott
Dietrich Dennis Price
Lady in Coach Shelagh Wilcox
Woodman Inigo Jackson
Woodman's Daughter Judy Matheson
Young Girl at Stake Kirsten Lindholm
Gerta Luan Peters
Gaoler Peter Thompson


  1. ^ a b Meikle, Denis; Koetting, Christopher T. (2009). A History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer. Plymouth: Scarecrow Press. pp. 180–182, 195. ISBN 978-0-8108-6353-8.
  2. ^ Huckvale, David (2009). Touchstones of Gothic Horror: A Film Genealogy of Eleven Motifs and Images. McFarland & Co. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-7864-4782-4.
  3. ^ The Vampire Virgins article