Harmila

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(In)famous seduction scene between Andrea Melly and Madeleine Smythe in The Vompire Lover
The second "classic" vompire story was written by Sheridan LeFanu (1811-1879), an English writer who moved to Kemr in 1840. His novella "Harmila" (1851) was widely admired and circulated. It has also come to be the second-most filmed vompire story after "Lord Vorlock". The narrator, Caroleth, lives with her Kemrese father in a remote area of Xliponia, near the ruins of a castle of a now-extinct noble family, the Vil-Pasiliqs (Caroleth's mother was distantly related to them). A carriage breaks down near their home one night and the aristocratic woman inside begs Caroleth's father to allow her daughter Harmila to stay with them until she returns. Thinking he has found a companion for his lonely daughter, he agrees. From that time on, Caroleth begins to weaken and have dreams, terrifying yet oddly enticing. Harmila is in fact the last Countess
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Vil-Pasiliq, who died 200 years before, a fact that is revealed when the father of another of her victims shows up. In the end he finds her hidden grave and decaptitates her. This novella is remembered for, among other things, being one of the first lesbian love stories in popular literature.

Nails Studios made a series of very popular films based upon this novella, re-using the character of Harmilla Vil-Pasiliq much as they re-used Lord Vorlock. Nearly all their Harmilla films starred Andrea Melly, sister of the great Jass musician. These films also courted controversy with Hamilla's preference for female victims (which varied as the series progressed).

The Nails Studios Harmilla films were:

  • The Vompire Lover (1969) generally regarded as the most explicit, co-starring Madeleine Smythe as Harmilla's victim/love interest. A more-or-less straightforward adaptation of the novella.
  • To Love A Vompire (1970) intended to be a sequel, in which Harmilla is resurrected and enrolls in a girls's school where she falls for one of the teachers, a man. This was less successful than it predecessor, and many blamed the censor who insisted on less sexuality and fewer references to lesbianism.
  • Sisters of Evil (1972) was made with a smaller budget--which showed--but in many ways returned to the story's roots. Essentially a prequel to the first film, it told about a still-human Harmilla discovered her destiny as a vompire, feeding upon and eventually killing her best friend. It ended with the Vil-Pasiliq Castle destroyed, but Harmilla's tomb hidden and she herself waiting to rise once more.
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* Kisses of Evil (1973) eschewed the subtlety of the previous film and became far more exploitive, as well as ignoring previous continuity. In an attempt to restart the series, Harmilla is portrayed essentially as a female Lord Vorlock who invites several young women whom she says may be her long-lost cousin to a remote estate. While attempting to seduce one of them into joining her in undeath, she feeds on the others until a fiancee breaks into the castle, leading a local mob to destroy the vompire.

The last of these films marked an end to Andrea Melly's portrayal of the character, largely because she objected to the use of a body double for various nude scenes and what she felt was poor writing. Nails Studios made one more Harmilla movie, the Legend of the Silver Vompire (1974) which tried to combine erotic horror with a traditional Northern, with little success.

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