R.I.P. Ingrid Pitt

VampireLovers_IngridPittThe BBC announced that horror movie icon Ingrid Pitt passed away today. She was 73.
Born Ingoushka Petrov in 1937 Poland, Ingrid Pitt would survive the German occupation and internment in a concentration camp. Fluent in several languages, she appeared in both Spanish films and American television (IRONSIDE) before landing an attention-getting role with stars Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton in WHERE EAGLES DARE (1968).
That  high-profile WWII action film would help lead to her winning the part of Marcilla/Carmilla, actually the revived and passionate vampire Mircalla Karnstein in Hammer Studios THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970). Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s story Carmilla , this film (directed by the recently deceased Roy Ward Baker See Obit) would push the boundaries of Hammer’s vampires over the edge of subtle hints of the erotic, into a frank and direct exploitation of the material. This new territoty would feature nudity and a blood-sucker interested in both men and women —mostly fetching, full-bosomed women .
Ingrid Pitt would show vampiric tendencies, literal and figurative, in COUNTESS DRACULA and Amicus’ THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (both 1971), making her a favorite among horror movie fans. She also did television and voice-over work.
Other genre roles included THE OMEGANS, THE WICKER MAN (1973), TRANSMUTATIONS (1986),  as well as two DOCTOR WHO serials The Time Monster (1972) and Warriors of the Deep (1984).

As Queen Galleria in DOCTOR WHO (with Roger Delgado)
As Queen Galleria in DOCTOR WHO (with Roger Delgado)

In recent years, Ingrid Pitt met many fans at various conventions, eager to compliment her on her work, and as being a fondly remembered part of their youth.
Ingrid Pitt vampire Ingrid Pitt with cat Clint Eastwood, Ingrid Pitt in WHERE EAGLES DARE Ingrid Pitt in "The Cloak" episode of THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD

Classic Horror from Hammer and AIP on Netflix Instant Viewing

Adrienne Corri and Anthony Corlan in VAMPIRE CIRCUS
Adrienne Corri and Anthony Corlan in VAMPIRE CIRCUS

This week, Netflix added a bloody barrel-full of horror movies from the 1960s and ’70s to their list of titles available for Instant Viewing. Many of these are classics made by Hammer Films in England or by American International Pictures in the U.S. In some cases, the titles are not available on DVD, so this is a much-needed opportunity for fans to have access to them.
Here is a brief rundown:

  • THE COMEDY OF TERRORS: a 1963 AIP production, with horror stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Basil Rathbone sending themselves up.
  • THE CRIMSON CULT: a weak 1968 British effort, distinguished only by the presence of horror stars Barbara Steele, Boris Karloff, and Christopher Lee (not on DVD).
  • DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN: Vincent Price is back as the abominable Doctor, this time outracing a rival (Robert Quarry) for the secret of eternal life.
  • HANDS OF THE RIPPER: a 1917 Hammer horror in which the spirit of Jack the Ripper may live on in his daughter (not on DVD).
  • THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH: Vincent Price stars as Prince Prospero in this, the best of Roger Corman’s Poe adaptations.
  • THE RAVEN:  an amusing 1963 horror-comedy from Roger Corman, with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Hazel Court.
  • TALES OF TERROR: a triptych of Poe tales from Corman, with Price, Rathbone, and Lorre.
  • THEATRE OF BLOOD: Vincent Price plays a Shakespearian actor out to kill the critics who denied him an award. Ghoulish, bloody, and funny.
  • TOMB OF LIGEIA: Corman’s 1965 swan song to the Poe cycle is another fine effort, this time with an emphasis on doomed romance, with Vincent Price and Elizabeth Shepherd.
  • THE VAMPIRE LOVERS: a 1970 Hammer production based on J. Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, starring Ingrid Pitt as the eroticaly charged vampire countess.
  • VAMPIRE CIRCUS: a 1972 tale of a travelling circus that arrives at a town quarantined by a plague, this is one of the best Hammer films from this era; it pushed the envelope, moving from sexual innuendo to actual sex (not on DVD).

The key titles here are HANDS OF THE RIPPER and VAMPIRE CIRCUS, due to their lack of DVD availability; these are truly worth checking out. THE CRIMSON CULT is also not available on DVD, but it is of lesser interest.
So far, I have sampled only a portion of DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN. The picture quality (with a high-speed internet connection through a Roku box to a high-def television) is quite good but clearly not up to the level of a Blu-ray disc – closer to DVD.
UPDATE: I finished watching the DR. PHIBES sequel and I am pleased to say that the version shown on Netflix includes the correct music at the end: Vincent Price singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN is one of many AIP films that suffered soundtrack problems when originally released to video, with original cues replaced by alternate tracks. In this case, the effectiveness of the ending was totally ruined by the use of inappropriate music, so it is nice to report that the this problem has not been repeated here.