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Lesbian vampires

Related: femme fatale - lesbian - trope - vampire

Titles: Carmilla (1872) - Vampyros Lesbos (1970)

More: essays - more fiction

Actors working in the genre: Ingrid Pitt - Soledad Miranda

Directors working in the genre: Jean Rollin - Jose Larraz - Jess Franco

Ingrid Pitt seduces Madeline Smith in the Vampire Lovers

Vampire Lovers (1970) - Roy Ward Baker [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Lesbian vampirism is a trope in 20th century exploitation film that has its roots in Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872). Notable titles include The Vampire Lovers (1970) and Vampyros Lesbos (1971).

Erzsébet Báthory appears in Daughters of Darkness and The Blood Countess.

More recently, Pam Keesey edited two anthologies of lesbian vampire stories, Daughters of Darkness (1993) and Dark Angels (1995). [1]

It is interesting to note that the lesbian vampire movie has developed into a distinctive subgenre while the gay vampire movie has not.

The female vampire is always eroticized; her seduction is not only for the purpose of securing a victim, but also to tempt the victim into corruption and eventual loss of soul. Here, the demise is not just a physical one, but a total annihilation, leaving the victim in a state of barren ruin. Her victim is always another female. Hence, the female is objectified within this ideology as well. Yet the female vampire is homosexual, feeding on women because she is the destroyer of men, thus doubly evil and doomed to destroy her own kind. Again, this is tradition. --Coleen Fretz, University of Pennsylvania B-GLAD'97 Magazine.

In essence, this was a way to hint/tittilate at the taboo idea of lesbianism in a fantasy context outside the heavily censored realm of social realism (Weiss 1993). Also, the conventions of the vampire genre--specifically, the mind control exhibited in many such films--allow for a kind of forced seduction of presumably straight women or girls by lesbian vampires.

Dracula's Daughter (1936) gave the first hints of lesbian attraction in a vampire film, in the scene in which the title character Gloria Holden preys upon an attractive girl she has invited to her house to pose for her.

More explicit lesbian content was provided in Hammer Studios production of a trilogy of films loosely adapted from Carmilla. The Vampire Lovers (1970) was the first, starring Ingrid Pitt and Madeleine Smith. It was a relatively straightforward re-telling of LeFanu's novella, but with more overt violence and sexuality. Lust for a Vampire (1971) followed, with Yutte Stensgaard as the same character played by Pitt, returning to prey upon students at an all-girl's school. This version had her falling in love with a male teacher at the school. Twins of Evil (1972) had the least "lesbian" content, with one female vampire biting a female victim on the breast. It starred real life twins and Playboy playmates Madeleine and Mary Collinson. Partially due to censorship restraints from the BBFC (Hearn and Barnes 1998), Hammer's trilogy actually had less lesbian elements as it proceeded.

The idea was also visited in other films from Hammer such as The Brides of Dracula (1960) in which a female vampire tries to lure another woman closer to be victimized, saying she wants to kiss her.

Notable film titles include Roger Vadim's Blood and Roses (1960) Jess Franco's Vampyros Lesbos (1971) Vampyres (1974) and The Hunger (1983). The vampire films of Jean Rollin usually contain some kind of lesbian element or hint. R

Erzsébet Báthory, the historical true-life prototype of the modern lesbian vampire, appears as a character in Daughters of Darkness (1971) by Belgian director Harry Kumel, Immoral Tales (1974) directed by Walerian Borowczyk, Eternal, and The Bloody Countess (Ceremonia sangrienta) (1973) directed by Jorge Grau, as well as Hammer's Countess Dracula (although not always with the lesbian element). [1]


  1. Daughters of Darkness: Lesbian Vampire Stories - Pam Keesey (Editor) [Amazon.com]
    Although this collection is probably for a fairly specialized market, there are some excellent stories here--including works by Jewelle Gomez, Kathryn Forrest, and Robbi Sommers--which, as editor Keesey points out, are hard to find elsewhere. Before Dracula, much vampire lore in fact centered around female vampires, and Keesey is bringing to light some of that tradition. By combining the ideas of women as vampires and women as seductive lesbians, Keesey doubles the force of images that have historically crystallized society's fear of powerful women. This book will be particularly at home in collections of feminist fiction, folklore, and popular culture; the explicit eroticism may limit its use in popular fiction collections. --From Library Journal

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