Friday, September 30, 2016

The Velvet Vampire (1971)

"She's Waiting to Love You... To Death!"

That's like something I'd come up with to describe a movie.  I'm not going to lie, I know next-to-nothing about this vampire flick.  I will totally admit to picking it because I saw a picture of Celeste Yarnall (who played the titular Velvet Vampire, as well as the episode "The Apple" on Star Trek) from the movie and immediately said, "I'm on board."

So, based on a picture, and a title that I can only assume indicated that this was going to be a silky smooth sexy vampire flick, I decided I'd select this as the official/unofficial kickoff to my vampire theme for the month of October.  That's right, what is more Halloweeny than a vampire movie?  Nothing.  Or at least mostly nothing.

Since it is September 30th, and October starts tomorrow, I just thought we'd go ahead and kick things off now.  The next four weeks will feature more vampire movies.  Since this is the only one I had no knowledge of whatsoever, let's just get this one out of the way and hope the rest of the Halloween Vampire-bration goes smoothly.

Our plot comes to us from Wikipedia today: "Sleepy-eyed nice guy Lee Ritter (Michael Blodgett) and his vapid, but pretty wife, Susan (Sherry Miles) accept the invitation of mysterious vixen Diane LeFanu (Celeste Yarnall) to visit her in her secluded desert estate. Tensions arise when the couple, unaware at first that Diane is in reality a centuries-old vampire, realize that they are both objects of the pale temptress' seductions."

Seems like a typical movie for this blog.  Let's dive right into The Velvet Vampire!

As our movie starts, as is not totally unexpected in these movies I cover, the camera follows a pretty lady in red who gets attacked by a crazed biker.  He plans to rape her, right out in the open, but she fights him off by stabbing him and killing him.  She washes up and calls it a night.  Now, because I know the episode of Star Trek she was in, I know this is our titular Velvet Vampire.  However, they do keep some ambiguity by not showing exactly what she does to the biker.  Also, I did my homework before watching this movie.

Diane, our vampire lady, goes to an art show, and we are introduced Lee and Susan.  Susan is getting bothered by some douchey art guy and probably doesn't help that Lee is pretty attentive to Diane.  Our young couple get invited to Diane's home.  That night, Susan confronts Lee about how seemingly into Diane he was in what has to be one of the most awkward scenes involving people taking a potentially sexy bubble bath together I have ever seen.

Now, I can say for certain that I pretty much don't like either of these people up to this point.  The guy is kind of a douche.  The girl is one of those hippy dippy chicks that talks about sexual energy and has a higher than tolerable voice and just bitches and whines.

While on their way out, they are not met with much kindness from the gas station workers.  They also aren't so sure where they are supposed to be going since they have traveled out into the middle of the desert and see nothing for miles.  After getting their gas, they break down in the middle of nowhere too far to walk back and still no idea where they are supposed to be.  Just then Diane shows up in a straight up dune buggy to take them back to her home where they have dinner and Diane and Lee talk about driving a dune buggy in a really sexual double entendre way.  Don't take it from me...  Here are the actual lines:

Diane: Have you ever driven a dune buggy?
Lee: No, but I'd like to try.
Diane: No two are alike. Take mine.  It's slow getting started.  At first it takes a little manipulation, but once it's warmed up, it really comes alive.  Then you have to watch out...  It's hard to control.
Lee: Yeah.  You have to give in.
Diane: And then you feel like it's driving you as you move in rhythm with it.  Up and down.  In and out.  Through the dunes.
Lee: Diane, I think I'd like to drive your buggy.
Diane: I think I can teach you how.
Susan: I think I've had enough.  I'm going to bed.

Yeah, you and me both, Susie Q.  I'm spent.

Another guy, I think it's one of the guys from the gas station earlier, comes to work on Diane's dune buggy.  Not like she was suggesting to Lee.  Just normally work on it.  Like a tune up?  Not any sex stuff.  She comes onto him pretty hardcore by just walking up to him and making out with him, but when she bit his lip, he balked.  So she sics her manservant on him causing him to stumble onto a pitchfork.  Inside, Lee and Susan dry hump while Diane watches through a two-way mirror.  I'm thankful that we get a little bit of toplessness from Susan by having her just sit up in bed while talking and letting dem tittaes breathe, but it's kind a silly.  When she ultimately tells Lee she doesn't feel like having sex, he turns over like a spoiled child in the fetal position to go to sleep.  This pleases Diane, but I can't tell if she is manipulating Susan to not want to take the dick or if it's just a happy coincidence.

Once asleep, a Pink Floyd album cover dream sequence happens that shows Lee and Susan in bed in the middle of the desert and Susan appearing and walking through a representation of the two-way mirror and taking Lee from Susan.  She wakes up from the dream scared.  She tells Lee about it.  Turns out he was also having the same dream except that Susan was pushing him away instead of him being led away.  Diane comes into their room and tells them to get dressed so she can take them out to the desert.

It's at this point that I realize two things.  First, EVERY line Diane speaks is dripping with sex.  Just dripping as if Erik Estrada just walked onto set with his shirt off for all the ladies to soak in.  (He's still popular right?)  Second, I'm starting to think that maybe...  Just maybe... this movie doesn't have a goddamn plot.  It's just excuse after excuse for Diane to speak sexily and for Susan to show her tits.  We are more than a full reel into this movie, and there hasn't been a single ounce of effort to explain why they are at Diane's, what exactly they are aside from "sleepy-eyed" and "vapid".  Not much has happened.  Even when they visit a ghost town and an abandoned mine, Diane fucks with Susan a bit, but it ultimately becomes pointless because we don't know anything about anybody's real intentions or motivations.  Well, I guess Diane is some sort of vampire lady?  And Lee wants to fuck her real bad.  Real bad.  Those are motivations, but they are pretty thin.

A rattle snake bites Susan while Lee nearly makes it with Diane.  The snake is not just a cock block for poor old Lee who can't seem to get laid in this fucking movie, but it also provides us with a chance to watch Diane suck on Susan's leg to stop the venom from reaching her heart.  So, kudos, movie, you kinda did a thing or two.  You showed us Diane's boobs and you showed her sucking on Susan's leg.

I gotta say...  Susan's little vacation has kinda sucked.

Er.  No pun intended.

Susan starts to snoop around the house and is caught by Diane's manservant.  She asks where Lee is and is told that he's sightseeing with Diane.  Lee and Diane go to the cemetery to visit her dead husband's grave.  She's confronted by the wife of the guy she and her manservant killed the night before, but Diane defends that she ultimately didn't need her dune buggy worked on.  Later, the girl finds the guy in a shallow grave and Diane bites the girl on the neck and sucks her blood.

Okay, first, if I were Lee, I'd be pissed.  I was about to get some vampire lady bits on my normal guy bits.  That got ruined by my dumb girlfriend getting bit by a dumb snake.  Now, I get to go out sightseeing with the girl again and I'm not getting any vampire lady bits!  What the fuck, man?  Next, I'm confused by the actual vampiric nature of Diane.  Seemingly she eats people's necks as I just saw, and she might believe in some Indian voodoo, but I don't know if she's actually a vampire or not.  Vamp, yes.  Vampire, maybe not.  She seems to have some power over the dreams that Lee and Susan have, but is it some mystical voodoo shit, or is it some vampire power shit?

Someone decided to cosplay as Velma today.
Lee finds Diane eating some raw chicken and they talk about being animals and she says he should give into his animal side and they fuck on the living room floor.  Susan catches them but she just watches.  They don't see her watching them, so...  I guess everything is cool?  Even when Susan and Diane make eye contact, there's just a look on Susan's face that's like "Yeah, I get it.  She was on an episode of Star Trek, so I'm cool with this."

Tensions run high the next morning.  Susan's acting a little pissy, Lee wants to get out of there because he's gotta see a guy the next day, and Diane insists that they can't leave for... reasons.  At least Lee comes right out to say he got laid the night before.  He tries to make up for this by saying Diane is a "desert freak" and he's a "Susie freak".  That wins her back to his side.  Dudes...  You have to try this shit.  I promise you, if you have a normal lady, and bonedoggle a chick on the side, just say you aren't into chick #2 and that you're only into your main lady.  That will keep your relationship alive.  I promise.  This movie says so.

Visiting the graveyard, Lee and Susan realize most of the graves show that the year of death was mostly in the 1870s, including Diane's husband.  In his grave, though, they find some guy's body with wounds on his neck.  Diane says that was actually her husband's great-grandfather's grave or something.  Lee realizes that Diane is a bit too kooky for his tastes and they want to leave as soon as they can in the morning.  That night's sexy dream involves Diane making some sweet moves on Susan by cutting open Susan's boob and sucking blood from it.

We're an hour into this 80-minute movie and I still don't know some pretty important stuff.  Like why they are there.  What the Velvet Vampire needs.  Why she killed her manservant and best friend.  Why if there was a second reason other than to show some tits, sparingly, to make this movie.
Special Gust Star, Ewan McGregor
Yet another day comes and Lee's car isn't done because he was told a lady called and said to hold the car until she gave the go ahead to release it.  I guess in 1971 that was a thing.  You can just call and tell a guy to not give someone else's car until you say so.  Meanwhile, Diane talks to Susan about her relationship with Lee and asks if she ever notices how envious men are of them.  Now, Susan just recently saw her husband getting it on with Diane.  Now Susan wants to stay a little longer and get a little girl-on-girl action.  I guess Susan might be a little bewitched?  Your guess would be as good as mine.  Inside, Diane puts the moves on Lee again.  Diane tells Lee she is actually very old and basically says her husband did die in 1875 or whatever year was on his tombstone.  Diane bites Lee while Susan tries to find them in the house.

This should be heading to something way sexier than it does.
Susan finds Diane's manservant's body.  She then finds Diane and we get an all-too-brief sexy girl action moment while feeding her the same lines she gave Lee.  When Susan hears a noise, she discover's Lee's dead body.  Susan runs away from Diane and into the desert.  Not exactly sure where she plans to go, but okay.  She does stop a car on the road.  It's the guy from the gas station.  He asks where she's going and takes her to where the Greyhound can pick her  up and take her back to Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, Diane is on the bus too.  In a truly creepy moment, Diane moves from the back of the bus to the row just behind Susan and just stares at her.  In the bus station, Susan tells a police officer about what's going on while Susan slowly descends on the escalator.  Susan runs away again and calls a friend to pick her up.  Diane finds her and chases her again through the bus station and outside.  Finally, Susan runs by a cross and it stops Diane.  Susan begs for others to help her and they all start taking crosses from a street vendor and surround her.  They take her cape off and even though Diane lived in the desert (she did say she hated the sun, but still lived in the desert nonetheless), the combination of the crosses and sun defeats our Velvet Vampire and straight up kills her by restoring her proper age before everyone's eyes.  Susan awakens from her rest at her friend's house.  He tells her that Diane said she had a rare blood disease that prevented her from producing her own blood so needing regular transfusions, she must have started believing she was a vampire.  She she cut herself with a knife like the one used to cut her boob in the last dream, her friend begins sucking her blood indicating that he had been turned into a vampire by Diane.

This movie had about ten minutes of usable material.  The chase and Diane's ultimate demise was effective.  I will say that Celeste Yarnall's creepiness in that final scene really paid off.  Her staring at Sherry Miles' Susan on the bus and at the station was pretty freaky.  The very end with the guy revealing he too was a vampire felt super tacked on to give a stinger to the end of the movie, but kinda didn't work out so well on the whole.

The rest of the movie was probably meant to be sexy more than anything, but really wasn't.  Yeah, we get some boobs, and Yarnall's crazy emphasis on her lines as if she was a phone sex operator wasn't unwelcome, but the movie didn't deliver on the goods.  I saw someone put a list together of the sexiest lesbian vampire movies and listed this in that group.  This was hardly a lesbian vampire movie.  I mean there was some attempt at lesbian sexiness toward the end, but if you want a super hot lesbian scene in a vampire flick, you need go no further than Embrace of the Vampire.  In fact, I may or may not be planning on doing that movie later this year.  Spoilers...  I am.  My point is, this movie is barely worth mentioning when it comes to lesbian scenes.  It's a cheap attempt to use sex and fetish to try to lure people into watching it.  If fails on that level.

Actually on almost every level (except for that chase sequence).

If there is one word for me to sum up how I feel about the start of my Vampire Movie Celebration in honor of Halloween it would be "Fuck".  As in, "Fuck, this didn't start quite as I hoped it would."  I 100% believe I will turn things around once October starts in earnest because next up is yet another mix of blaxploitation and horror.  I'm not going to say it's Blacula, but it is most definitely Blacula.

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