Lee and Susan Ritter (Michael Blodgett and Sherry DeBoer) are at a gallery opening being given by their friend Carl Stoker (Gene Shane).  At the event they meet a mysterious and beautiful dark-haired woman, Diane LeFanu (Celeste Yarnall).  Carl tells the couple that Diane is a customer.  Diane takes an interest in her new acquaintances and invites them to visit her at her desert estate.  Susan sees the attraction between Diane and Lee and is not thrilled about going, but Lee convinces her.

On the way to the estate the Ritters’ car breaks down.  Diane shows up riding a dune buggy.  She tells the couple that she will have the gas station owner, Amos (Sandy Ward), tow the car and have it fixed.  In the meantime, they can stay at her house.  At Diane’s estate they meet her servant, Juan (Jerry Daniels).  Juan takes care of Diane.   

It doesn’t take long for Diane to start seducing first Lee and then attempting to seduce Susan.  Watching the couple through a one-way mirror, Diane begins to infiltrate their dreams in an erotic seduction that extends into their waking hours.  Diane is vampire and like a praying mantis or a black widow spider, Diane has a tendency to kill her mates.    

“The Velvet Vampire” was released in 1971 and was directed by Stephanie Rothman.  It is an American vampire horror and exploitation film produced by Roger Corman.

The movie was disappointing at the box office, but it has since garnered a cult following.  I myself wasn’t really impressed.  I found it to be rather bland and slow.  Also, the characters are not all that interesting or that sympathetic.  The acting is hit and miss.  Sexy Celeste Yarnall is good, just about everyone else is bad.  Michael Blodgett was drunk during most filming.    

What it does have is lots of atmosphere, and plenty of red.  Its stark landscape and dream sequences give the film an artistic aspect.  Since it is an exploitation film, there is plenty of nudity, which is probably the basic theme of the film.  The movie has some of the vampire tropes but differs in that sunlight is not good for vampires, but not horribly bad either.  The film ends up a little strange and surreal but other than the sex, there isn’t really anything special about it.

Blues artist Johnny Shines has a cameo as a musician at Stoker’s gallery.  He performs his song "Evil-Hearted Woman”.  Celeste Yarnall’s character is named after Sheridan Le Fanu, the author of the novel “Carmilla”.  Gene Shane’s character Carl Stoker is named after Bram Stoker, the author of “Dracula”.  Yarnall, a natural blond, dyed her hair brown for the film.

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