|American magazine Femme Fatales tried to sort out the 50 sexiest women in Horror films. Ingrid came in at number three. She wasn’t amused by their choice so was given her say in the delicate matter of discrimination.|
With the exception of synchronized swimming and high diving, the athlete who breasts the tape most often or who blasts the bull out of the target most proficiently or leaps to unbelievable heights , is acclaimed the winner. Unless it’s proved that he’s chock full of illegal substances and is performing in another realm. With the arts we venture into subjectivity and one man’s masterpiece is another man’s draftt excluder. When it comes to sexuality the lust is in the genitals of the beholder. So who’s so crass that they would volunteer to become the target of the women’s lobby by claiming something so risible as agitated hormones as arbiters of sexual preference? And why am I going on like this? Third – that’s why.
Third place! And it’s all my own fault. I keep saying how gorgeous Caroline Munro and Martine Beswicke are and now someone believes me and I can no longer have any faith in the ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’ incantations. Looking down the list of the fifty sexiest Hammer ladies, and I use the word ladies advisedly, my only compensation is in disagreeing with the position in the sexual preference stakes of practically every nomination. And then of course there’s the small matter of Raquel Welch. Practically every male I know goes gooey eyed when Raquel’s name comes up. They all remember her in her designer fur bikini and her Jurassic Max Factor in the 1965 remake of Hal Roach’s 1940 epic, One Million Years B.C, doing her stuff and giving her all for the survival of the species.
Even if clever dick critics did bash on about dinosaurs and Homo Raquelians not being in the same time frame. Who cares? Shoe-horning her in at no better than just under half way at 22nd is not on. Has she upset someone in the front office? Am I talking from a woman’s perspective if I comment on Madeline Smith? Another contemporary who makes strong slaverers weak kneed And surely Julie Ege, in at 20 deserves better? Then of course there is Veronica Carlson. A perpetual victim maybe but what hot blooded male could resist the urge to leap into the arena to save and protect her?
When Hammer were at their sexist best their policy was forget the dramatic potential and draft in a bouncy pair of fully developed boobs attached to a nubile body and a not exactly repulsive physiognomy and film her blood smeared and ululating at a high rate of decibels. Initially the female cast swooned a lot and wore the sort of Victorian furbelows that dastardly caddish types, usually of a vampiric persuasion, wanted to get into.
By the time I was responding to the clapper board the role of the woman had changed. The predominantly male audience was hearing good things about bondage and the sexual proclivities of the Domitrix. So in addition to the pouting and screaming Hammer wanted someone who could demonstrate to the punters the sort of things they were hoping to persuade their wife was the norm in a healthy heterosexual bedroom. That’s where I came in. I had it and was prepared to flaunt it. Whether I could act or not wasn’t relevant. Hammer was at this time pushing at the placenta and trying to find what they could deliver and get by the censor as a genuine off-spring of the Horror trade. The way Jimmy Carreras worked it was to do a number of scenes that he absolutely knew the censor would come over all puce about, cut them into the body of the film, anywhere as long as they drew attention away from the bits he wanted to keep, and then act mortified when he had to sacrifice them
The psychology of this was that the man with the scissors would become more and more caught up in the sexual images thrown at him and his perception of what or not the pubic could be allowed to see would be warped. What went on the cutting room floor one year would escape the blue pencil the next – and it worked. Sex had always been the underlying theme in Hammer Horror. When it was covert and left to the imagination it was possibly more strongly portrayed. The gown never quite fell low enough to reveal the nipple, the frock never raised enough to reveal the pubic hair.
Imagination is a powerful aphrodisiac. Witness Veronica Carlson, Hazel Court and Barbara Shelley in the infamous list. As far as I can remember they never tippled a nipple between them but clock in at a respectable 4th, 5th. and sixth. And, while I’m on the subject of what to hide or not to hide, what about Caroline Munro? She never bared a breast for the sake of her art. She does tell of one mystical time when she walked out of a bathing scene under a waterfall and displayed her assets naked but evidently the picture was so badly out of focus that it never made it onto the market.. It seems that the nipple is the watershed. Once the nipple was exposed it wasn’t long before the full frontal in films became almost de rigor. Valerie Leon even did a biographical magazine piece called ‘Anything but the Nipple’ And, it is claimed, there were what might be termed medical reasons why Raquel stayed firmly strapped inside her prehistoric lingerie.
Beasty Beswicke survived Slave Girls (1966) to make one of the most imaginative variations on the Jekyll and Hyde theme – Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde(1971) with the late Ralph Bates. There was something sinister and seductive about a man releasing the woman inside him and the female alter ego turning out to be more evil than he could ever imagine. In this film, what had by this time become the obligatory baring of the breasts, really had a meaning. The scene where Jekyll (Bates), now turned into the succulent Hyde (Beswicke), stands in front of the mirror and looks at the beautiful, FEMALE, body he has inherited is memorable. I guess it touches something in both men and women. That fleeting moment when you wish you could experience what your lover is obviously getting his buns off on.
Post nipple exposure are the Collinson Twins (Twins of Evil 1971) and Yutte Stensgaard (Lust for a Vampire 1970). This trio had sex on the hot plate. There has been a lot written about Yutte being miscast but I don’t see that at all. I was sent the script just after I finished Vampire Lovers. It wasn’t a scratch on the Lovers film and the Carmilla part was almost unworkable. But that wasn’t the only reason I turned it down.
I had Countess Dracula on the blotter and it looked a nice unrestrained part. It didn’t turn out that way. The censors had, more or less, agreed that anything goes as far as bodily exploitation was concerned but were playing off the back foot on violence. Slitting sundry throats and showering in cascading blood was not look on kindly so the gore scenes in Countess Dracula were pretty pitiful and the sexual scenes so anodyne they could have been cut into Mary Poppins and survived without comment. But Yutte sitting on the bed, semi naked and covered in claret must be one of the sexiest scenes ever filmed. And that alone should have guaranteed her a place higher than 8.
But I’m not going to drive myself potty with this. I must say it’s a good thing Caroline and Martine are good friends of mine or I might have to take a stake to the pair of them. Then we’d see who was going to play Snow White.