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Blood Sucking Swingers: The Velvet Vampire (1971)

A woman walks down a lonely street and was assaulted by a surrogate jeans and a T-shirt. He puts her on the ground straddles her holding a switchblade to her throat as she stares at him. She resists but only slightly, never taking her eyes off of him. As he goes in to kiss her, she stabs him with the same switchblade in the gut. She then washes her hands of blood in the nearby decorative pool outside the stoker gallery. Such is our introduction to Diane LeFanu, the velvet vampire.

Oh the swinging 70s, it's a wonder people we bothered putting clothes on at all. After our introduction to Diane, the film gets going proper inside the stoker gallery where a party is in progress. There we meet Susan and Lee Ridder, a young couple that likes to play games, though it seems that Lee enjoy so much more than Susan. In any case, the couple soon find themselves driving out to the desert to hook up with Diana for a weekend of fun. As usually happens in films like this, the car breaks down stranding them there was no hope of escape. People began to die in a wedge is forced between Lee and Susan. What does the velvet vampire want and how far will she go to get it?

This is a fun slice of 70s softcore that manages to bring something new to the vampire myth of those. For one thing, Diane lives in the desert. Not a desert town mind you, the middle of the desert with nothing but dunes on all sides. It seems odd at first but it does give a new dimension to the story which ones otherwise be there, that alone is a nice change of pace. The interesting dynamic going on in this film since early characters are different sides of the same coin. What I mean is, Diane is all about sex and experimentation while Lee and Susan are all about free love and experimentation. The difference between sex and free love becomes evident quickly as Susan constantly rebuffs Diane's advances and watches with disdain as Lee falls under her spell.

This was a common theme in 70s horror. This seemingly perfect couple exploring their sexuality and it driving them apart. This theme ran in films as varied as Satan's blood and the Rocky horror picture show. It's a direct reflection of the times in which this films were made and though they may not have had as much to say as we would've liked, they are an interesting time capsule to a time that now long gone.

This film is Celeste Yarnell her spot in horror eternity. Though she appeared in many TV shows over the 60s and 70s including Star Trek, land of the Giants, and Hogan's heroes, it is a valid vampire that has burned her name into our collective consciousness. She had a mature sexuality that, like Ingrid Pitt, gave the character weight and presence.

Sherry Miles, who plays Susan, was only active for about 10 years with only a couple of features of which the velvet vampire is her biggest part. She had an innocence to her and perhaps that was part of the problem since she probably could have used just a little bit more edge.
Michael Blodgett was an actor who appeared in everything. You can find him in the monsters, beyond the Valley of the dolls, and Electra woman and Dyna girl. He plays leave this film as a somewhat unsympathetic character, yet one very true to the time. We is a man in traditional sense and has no problem putting his needs and desires above his wife's.

Sexpot Director Stephanie Rothman has fun with a lot of small in jokes for vampire enthusiast sprinkled throughout the movie. The film opens with the "Stoker" gallery named after the author of Dracula and our main vampire is named Diane LaFanu, after the author of the ground breaking lesbian vampire novella, Carmela. That's not the only references so please have fun picking those out as you watch the film. 

The film is centered on the relationship between these three and though it's not the most dynamic it'll occupy your mind for an hour and a half without causing any serious damage. Like I said it's not the greatest of the sexual wedge horror subgenre, but it's not the worst it's a fun map film with interesting moments in a locale that sets it apart. The film attempts to be different and to achieve horror on its own terms and that alone is admirable.

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