I am not quite sure where I first learned of The Velvet Vampire; in my memory, it was in Jessica/labelleotero’s guest post here at Unquiet Things, Ten Gems of Decadent Cinema. But in rereading, The Velvet Vampire is not among the films listed, and now I am starting to question everything!

Anyhow, I heard of it somewhere, and I’ve been meaning to watch this slightly surreal,  somewhat silly ~but very pretty~ vampire film for some time now. Well, it’s kind of a vampire film. They’re playing a bit fast and loose with that part.

Free-spirited couple Lee and Susan meet up with the enigmatic Diane Le Fanu at an art gallery function and she invites them to come hang out for a few days at her estate deep in the desert. The guests begin having strange erotic dreams about their host and, along with her flirty attention to Lee, it is driving a bit of a jealous wedge between them. Sexy dune buggy metaphors, haunted mine shafts, sun tan snake bites, midnight mind control, mummified husbands, and some dated, uncomfortable treatment of indigenous people ensue.

That dune buggy scene, though! Plowing through the desert sands, flying over the hills, screeching to a stop where Lee and Susan’s car has broken down on the highway on their way to her home – I am LIVING for Diane and her dune buggy! I am also living for her fabulous ensembles, all sorts of silk and sparkles! In one scene she is dressed just like Velma from Scooby Doo, and in the film’s final moment, a crowd tears off her pristine cream-colored cape to reveal a highly-impractical-for-traveling Zatanna-esque little get-up. Unfortunately, she doesn’t stand still enough to get a good screencap of it, so you’ll just have to watch it and see for yourself.


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idolon says

This is one my favorite vampire films. I always thought it was too bad that the director, Stephanie Rothman, often disavows it in interviews, but I guess it wasn't the kind of picture she wanted to be directing. Because of that, she seems to put her own spin on the material, and that may be why it is so unique and not too concerned with traditional vampire lore. I've always thought of it as an American Daughters of Darkness, and interestingly enough they were both released in 1971. They make a great double-feature.

S. Elizabeth says

That definitely makes me want to revisit Daughters of Darkness!

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