Seductive Kindness: Power, Space and “Lesbian” Vampires

  • Alexandra Heller-NicholasEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Gothic book series (PAGO)


Lambert Hillyer’s Dracula’s Daughter (1936) may not be the most iconic of Universal Studio’s horror output of the 1930s, but with its flimsy metaphor of vampirism for lesbianism, in retrospect it is possibly one of its most ideologically subversive. In a tradition heavily influenced by Sheridan Le Fanu’s Gothic novella Carmilla (1871) and the figure of Erzsébet Báthory, lesbian vampires have become an enduring aspect of cinematic horror. Notions of place, hospitality and power are often central to a number of so-called “lesbian” vampire films. This chapter examines the intersection between sexual identity, seduction and the spatial dynamics related to acts of both welcoming and accepting entry into literally or symbolically personal spaces. It explores The Vampire Lovers (Roy Ward Baker 1970), Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel 1971), Vampyros Lesbos (Jesús Franco 1971), The Hunger (Tony Scott 1983), The Unwanted (Bret Wood 2014) and Dracula’s Daughter. These six films illustrate the diverse and sometimes subtle ways that vampire mythology can stake a claim in a range of positions regarding gender, power, identity, agency and tradition, particularly in relation to the configurations of space, seduction and hospitality.


Carmilla Vampire Lovers Vampire Film Dracula Lesbian Vampire 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Melbourne/Victorian College of the ArtsMelbourneAustralia

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