You can always count on Lifetime for a good melodrama, which is exactly what the 1996 movie Mother May I Sleep with Danger? was. The TV film starring Tori Spelling depicts an obsessive relationship between a young man and woman that ends in murder. James Franco has remade the movie . . . with lesbian vampires. It airs on Lifetime tonight at 8/7c.
As cultural critic Judy Berman put it, “Franco’s choice to reimagine a piece of hetero camp detritus as a girl-on-girl love story seems obvious, considering his enthusiasm for trashy tropes and fixation on queer culture. But he’s hardly the only filmmaker keeping the lesbian vampire film, a 70s B-movie staple, alive.”
We decided to go back to some of those B-movies in anticipation of the Lifetime premiere — a stroll through lesbian vampire cinema with its diaphanous nightgowns and bloodthirsty kisses. Here are some of the best movies in the genre.
A film in which everyone is good-looking, and no one can escape the elegant Delphine Seyrig’s Hungarian countess, who presides over a crumbling seaside hotel. “High gothic is abstract and ceremonious,” writes Camille Paglia about the 1971 film. “Evil has become world-weary, hierarchical glamour. There is no bestiality. The theme is eroticized western power, the burden of history.”
Roger Vadim based his gorgeous 1960 film on the mother of all lesbian vampire tales, Joseph Sheridan le Fanu’s novella Carmilla. The film’s stunning set pieces weave the story in and out of a dreamscape, in which roses and embraces give way to blood and screams.
Jess Franco’s erotic horror tale set on a remote island (filmed in Turkey) stars lesbian vampire vixen Soledad Miranda as a mysterious woman who seduces her victims with a naughty nightclub act, hunting them in their dreams.
Hammer Films’ cautionary tale about sexually bold women casts Ingrid Pitt as the powerful vampiress Carmilla, who seduces the wealthy ladies of a manor in 18th-century Europe. There’s no mistaking the lesbianism in the film when one of the wide-eyed girls of the house describes her dream: “The [cat] lies across me, warm and heavy. I feel its fur in my mouth, and I retch with fear. And then . . . it turns into you, Carmilla!”
Tony Scott’s sleek, neon nightmare about a centuries-old vampire, played by a regal Catherine Deneuve, whose lovers (including one played by David Bowie) age too quickly for the undead. Enter Susan Sarandon’s gerontologist who becomes the third in a love triangle. Elaine Showalter stated that the film “casts vampirism in bisexual terms, drawing on the tradition of the lesbian vampire. . . . Contemporary and stylish, [it] is also disquieting in its suggestion that men and women in the 1980s have the same desires, the same appetites, and the same needs for power, money, and sex.”
Director Jean Rollin made a career out of the lesbian vampire trope. With Fascination, he casts adult actress Brigitte Lahaie as one half of two women taken hostage by a man — at least until they turn the tables, revealing there is an entire cult of women out for blood.
The 1973 film was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency due to its lesbian subtext between an older woman and young girl. “Richard Blackburn’s long-fabled Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural exists in a suffocating, ur-Southern Gothic nightscape all its own,” writes the Village Voice. “Unashamedly shoestring, Blackburn’s dream odyssey through pubertal agony drips with Freudian syrup, but it’s also a fervidly physical film — the midnight back alleys of Old South ghost towns are not places you’ll be longing to revisit.”
Nadja deals with #modernvampireproblems and finds the ultra-cool undead feeding off men and women. The film was executive produced by David Lynch, who also has a cameo as a morgue receptionist.
Mary Harron takes the Carmilla narrative to an all-girls boarding school where an otherworldly new student drives a wedge between friends and inspires an obsession.
Lesbian vampire lovers live the undead dream, abducting men and women at their rural manor for fun and food. The film stars 1973 Playboy Playmate Anulka Dziubinska.