THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971)

A young swinging couple (Michael Blodgett and Sherry E. DeBoer) get seduced in the desert lair of a mind-warping lady vamp (Celeste Yarnall), mourning the loss of her long-deceased husband whilst playing the game from both ends. Surely the source inspiration for all those 1313 movies shot by David DeCoteau with lots of exposed flesh wandering around a few locations, serial bed-hopping, repeated use of the same score, little convincing action and even more limited onscreen acting talent.

The dream sequences – another feature found in DeCoteau but here staged with more surreal aplomb – add a hallucinatory flair, and Rothman’s juicily bisexual script has some tastily camp zingers. I also love the bus station escape sequence with its escalator descent (somehow reminiscent of Lugosi’s “children of the night” appearance on the stairs in DRACULA…) and souvenir stand crucifixes. Deserving of its cult status.

“Diane doesn’t turn me on, she’s a desert freak. And I’m a Suzy freak.”

Stephanie Rothman’s THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971).

ABOUT STEPHANIE ROTHMAN

Stephanie Rothman specialised in (s)exploitation films in the 60s and 70s, with THE VELVET VAMPIRE sitting in the middle of her directorial output which ranged from BLOOD BATH (1966) to THE WORKING GIRLS (1974). She wrote all of her directorial efforts as well as STARHOPS (credited as ‘Dallas Meredith’) which was directed by Barbara Peeters of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP fame. In an interesting footnote, Rothman took her name off STARHOPS (1978) because she didn’t like how it turned out, a fate Corman notoriously denied Peeters on HUMANOIDS….

According to wikipedia, Rothman’s high school career motivation was Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957), which was before she met Roger Corman and started working for him in 1964 as his assistant. She claimed never to have enjoyed working in exploitation pictures, a career pigeonhole she couldn’t escape, finally leaving the industry to work in real estate. She did, however, take advantage of the available work opportunities to bring her distinctive vision to the screen:

“I’m very tired of the whole tradition in western art in which women are always presented nude and men aren’t. I’m not going to dress women and undress men – that would be a form of tortured vengeance. But I certainly am going to undress men, and the result is probably a more healthy environment, because one group of people presenting another in a vulnerable, weaker, more servile position is always distorted.”*

Michael Blodgett in THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971).

(*Women in Horror Month: Stephanie Rothman, The Feminist Queen of Exploitation Cinema, Fangoria).

In brief: A young swinging couple get seduced in the desert lair of a mind-warping lady vamp, mourning the loss of her long-deceased husband whilst playing the game from both ends.

Strapline: “She’s waiting to love you… to death!”

Poster for THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971).

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