Annette Vadim as Carmilla
Annette Vadim as Carmilla in Et Mourir de Plaisir. (Paramount/Media Target)

A Tale of Two Carmillas- Part 1: Et Mourir de Plaisir (Blood and Roses, 1960)

An analysis of two film adaptions of the gothic vampire novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu.

Predating Dracula, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) has continued to provide inspiration for many vampire films and has spawned various adaptions.

It is a short story set in 19th century Styria about a young woman called Laura who becomes close friends with her mysterious houseguest Carmilla. Around this time Laura begins to have strange nightmares and her health starts to decline. Carmilla is later revealed to be the vampire Countess Millarca Karnstein by General Spielsdorf, whose niece Bertha was suffering the same symptoms. The vampire is subsequently staked by vampire expert Baron Vordenburg- yet it is implied that Laura never recovers from her encounter.

Recently, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla has been given an interesting new reimagining in the Youtube series Carmilla (2014), which sees the action transported to a modern day university.

This two part series will analyse two very different earlier adaptions of the source material- Et Mourir de Plaisir (And to die of pleasure, 1960) and Hammer Horror’s The Vampire Lovers (1970). First, we will look at Et Mourir de Plaisir– directed by Roger Vadim (Barbarella) and starring his then wife, Annette Vadim as Carmilla.

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Department S titles

Department S (1969, UK)

Why do all the passengers from an airline go missing mid-flight? How does a food critic wind up in the middle of a desert after a night at the opera? Why has the ground floor of a stately home, found to contain a mentally handicapped young man and the dead body of a woman, been constructed inside an old warehouse? These are just some of the unsolved mysteries- ranging from the believable to the outright bizarre that British 1960s TV series Department S throws at you in its gripping opening title sequences.

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Akihiro Miwa as The Black Lizard
Glamorous female impersonator and famous Japanese singer Akihiro Miwa stars as Femme Fatale thief Black Lizard.
(Shochiku Eiga/Cinevista)

Black Lizard (1968, Japan)

An effortlessly stylish, twisty and entertaining gothic suspense. This kitsch avant-garde masterpiece from Japanese auteur Kinji Fukasaku, starring female impersonator Akihiro Miwa, has to be seen to be believed!

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