To vampire movie enthusiasts of a certain vintage, Pitt is the queen of all female vampires. The Polish-born actress, who survived three years in a Nazi concentration camp as a girl, came honestly by her Eastern European accent and her ease with the macabre. In the early 1970s, she starred in two vampire films for the famed Hammer horror studio: In Countess Dracula, she played a figure based on real-life serial killer Elizabeth Bathory, but she’s better known for The Vampire Lovers, based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 novel Carmilla (a vampire tale that preceded Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years).
As Carmilla (whose real name is Marcilla), Pitt is one of the first openly lesbian vampires, seducing young Emma (Madeline Smith) and her governess, too, but feeding upon victims of both sexes. The role made her a horror icon for the rest of her life (she died in 2010), one who made frequent appearances at fan conventions, wrote a memoir called Life’s a Scream and was even known to nibble on the necks of her interviewers.
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