The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, January 27-February 2

the-vampire-lovers-197020The Vampire Lovers (1970)
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Baker directed a hundred hours of TV, directed Marilyn Monroe in her first lead role, and worked with two of the best regarded English cult studios, and still he isn’t on the shortlist of great English filmmakers. Maybe because so many of his best films were trashy pulp stories. Crafting decadent queer horror movies Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde and The Vampire Lovers won’t net you any extra prestige, but who cares when there’s so much fun to be had? Vampire Lovers, the first of Hammer Studios’ lesbian vampire movies, is a giddy, robust celebration of the death of censorship. One of the earliest spins on J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, it tells the story of voluptuous Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt) who has come for everyone’s daughters in 1790s Austria. The old-school use of space in Baker’s compositions is the perfect container for this feast of doffed nightgowns, spoiled jugulars and bared fangs. His images at first don’t seem capable of reckoning with the changes taking place in cinema and the tension between his craft and his content is as engrossing as its tale of stolen innocence. Just as the vampire’s gambit is discovered, modernity seeps into Baker’s mise-en-scène like a fever. Scout Tafoya (January 28, 7pm; February 1, 6, 9pm at Anthology Film Archives’s AIP series)

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