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Pale, fragile, and beyond vulnerable, when we first see this wandering waif of a girl, we can see how readily a man could fall under her spell. When we learn that she is a vampire looking to make the rest of her monster clan “happy” by picking a necessary human victim, things become more complicated. This brilliant deconstruction of the mythos, offered by a pre-Hurt Locker Oscar Katherine Bigelow, does for the vampire myth what George Romero did for the zombie—takes the tired ideas and electrifies them with pure post-modern menace… and meaning. Not only is Mae a great creature, but she is part of one of the best horror films of all time.
For the most part, Hollywood limits what a female vampire can and cannot be. Either she’s an unwitting creature who craves blood and gore, or she’s a misunderstood sophisticate who must surreptitiously seduce and slaughter to avoid the unnerving aging process. Guess which approach the late director Tony Scott took with this tale? As his viable vamp, the filmmaker tagged the great Catherine Deneuve—and then threw in David Bowie and Susan Sarandon for good measure. The result is like a commercial for supernatural spray cologne, Chanel No. 5 channeled through a minor genre mode. As a fashion plate, Miriam rocks. As a fright icon… well…
Yes, we are cheating a bit, but when you have a movie that concentrates on two female vampire lesbians who lure unsuspecting men to their gloomy Victorian home for sex and slaughter, it’s hard to pick just one creepshow concubine. In this case, the duo are so diabolic, and so divine, that they are almost like one supernatural seductress. Of course, as the movie progresses, an unwitting couple stumble upon the pair, and all manner of paranormal peccadilloes are produced. On a side note, both of our leading ladies were famous nude models, so perhaps that’s why they seem so “comfortable” onscreen.
It’s all about Salma Hayek and her undeniable “assets.” Before she went mainstream, this curvy Mexican leading lady was Robert Rodriguez’s go-to gal. He cast her in Desperado, and then asked her to play this minor role in this Quentin Tarantino horror/crime mash-up. Of course, the minute she arrived on screen as a stripper with a secret (the secret being that she and her dancing divas are all blood thirsty monsters), she confirmed her place in the female vampire hierarchy. The image of her in a splashy bikini, massive snake draped around her has become a part of post-modern macabre iconography.
Here’s all you need to know… two simple words: Ingrid Pitt. While only involved in two Hammer-style spook shows (this, and Countess Dracula) her physical and performance presence cements her legacy as the best female vampire ever. Not only could Ms. Pitt evoke sexuality, she could command terror and potential dread as well. The Vampire Lovers is a perfect example of what she brings to the screen—smoldering lust and legitimate bloodletting. Others may think they are more fetching or fearful, but no one surpasses Ms. Pitt. She is the female Dracula personified, and this is one of her best films.
// Notes from the Road
"Red Baraat's annual Festival of Colors show rocked a snow laden Hartford on a Saturday evening.READ the article