The Karnstein Trilogy
The Karnstein Trilogy of vampire films were produced by Hammer Films, and were notable at the time for being somewhat daring in explicitly depicting lesbian themes. 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 films in the trilogy are:
- The Vampire Lovers (1970), featuring Polish born actress Ingrid Pitt as the lesbian vampire Mircalla Karnstein. The film was based on the 1872 novella Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; the name Mircalla is an anagram of Carmilla.
- Lust for a Vampire (1971), featuring Danish born actress Yutte Stensgaard as Mircalla. The film is a loose sequel to The Vampire Lovers, with a revived Countess Mircalla seducing and murdering 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 only briefly. The plot revolves around two sisters Maria and Frieda Gellhorn (played by twin Playboy Playmates Mary Collinson and Madeleine Collinson). It is often considered a prequel as it appears to be set earlier in time than the other two films: the film depicts the Karnstein family as living and the set design and costumes give the film a 17th-century look and feel.
A planned fourth film in the series, variously announced as Vampire Virgins and Vampire Hunters, never went beyond the early draft stage. However, the 1974 film Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter features a female vampire from the Karnstein family, and is sometimes considered part of the same continuity, albeit set in England rather than Central Europe.
The biology of the vampires in Hammer's Karnstein films is different from that of the Dracula series, as the Karnstein vampires can walk about in daylight and are immune to fire. Some of this is retained in the 1972 Hammer film Vampire Circus.
- 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.
- 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.
- Vampire Virgins article