47 Years Ago Yesterday…

the hippie horror flick The Velvet Vampire directed by Stephanie Rothman opened starring , Sherry Miles and the late as the alluring title character. After meeting married couple Susan and Lee Ritter (Miles and Blodgett) at an art gallery, Yarnall’s Diana lures them into staying the weekend at her Mojave Desert home. Soon both husband and wife find themselves sexually drawn to their mysterious host who suffers from a rare blood disease. Unlike vampires of lore, Diana was able to journey out into the sunlight as long as she is covered up. In the course of twenty-four hours, Diana feasts on a mechanic, his girlfriend, and a servant. After making love with Diana, Lee wants to depart but Susan is fascinated with the charming Diana and wants to stay. Their delay in leaving costs Lee his life while Diana meets her gruesome end at the hands of a cult hippie gang.

Commenting on the film, cover girl Celeste said in my McFarland book ,

“I dyed my hair black for this role, Though the part was a bit corny, I got into playing a vampire. The film had an interesting script by Charles S. Swartz, which explained Diana’s condition very well. This was one of the first films released by ’s new production company [New World] and was more original than some of Roger’s other films, which were rip-offs of other movies. I became good friends with Roger and have a lot of respect for his talent.

Though I was only semi-nude, it still bothered me.  Charles Swartz also produced the film and his wife Stephanie Rothman directed it. They both were very nice and one of the ways that they persuaded me into doing the nude scene with Michael Blodgett was by making it an absolutely closed set. After it was lit, everyone left except the cinematographer, Stephanie, and her husband.  The cinematographer’s name was Daniel Lacambre and he was brilliant.  He lit and shot the film beautifully.

“I worked well with Sherry Miles but this was a very dark period for Michael Blodgett. He was drinking heavily throughout the shoot.  I was not at all pleased with him as my leading man.  In the scene where I have to stab him and he dies, he’s laying on top of me.  Michael had his hand behind me and he didn’t realize that as he was acting he was closing his hand around my spine.  He really hurt me—my whole back was bruised.  But he had no clue what he was doing.  He had been drinking the night before.  Consequently, it was difficult for me to work with him and retain my air of professionalism.  I tried to just put up with it.  The producers finally got his girlfriend to come on location so he sobered up a bit when she arrived.  It was murder until she got there.  Michael ultimately cleaned up his act.



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