Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Scream Queen

Back in November, while on the train home to Waterford for the weekend, that day's Guardian newspaper was left behind by a fellow passenger. While skimming through it, I came upon an obituary for Hammer Horror actress, Ingrid Pitt. After reading it, I pulled out the page and kept it in my bag, which sounds like I was being a bit of a weirdo, but it was actually because her story was so fascinating.

Ingrid was born in Poland in 1937, to a Jewish mother and German father, who worked as a scientist. After her father refused to work on the Nazi's programme to develop rockets, her mother and five year old Ingrid were sent to a concentration camp for three years. When they were taken into a forest to be shot, amazingly they managed to escape and were rescued by partisan troops, with whom they lived rough for a year. Eventually, badass Ingrid made her way to Berlin and joined a theatre company, after a short stint as a medical student. However, it was soon time to leg it once more after she got in trouble for speaking out against the Communist authorities, and fled westwards with the help of a US Marine officer, who she then married. However, restless Ingrid wouldn't stay settled with her new husband in the Colorado military base they lived in. She ended up divorcing him and returning to Europe, landing bit parts in Dr Zhivago and Where Eagles Dare, as well as lead roles in dodgy films doomed to be consigned to the scrapheap of terrible sci-fi like The Omegans. Heard of it? Yeah, me neither.

Ingrid finally made her breakthrough in The Vampire Lovers, where she was cast as a 200 year old lesbian vampire that seduced female victims while barely clad in low cut transparent gowns. At a time when British horror in the late sixties and seventies was ramping up the sex and gore in its baroque films in an attempt to win over cinema crowds, Ingrid made a cult name for herself thrilling cinemagoers as a sexy predator with no problem making the most of her vampy cleavage.

She wrote numerous books in her later years, including her autobiography Life's A Scream and The Ingrid Pitt Book of Murder, Torture and Depravity, both of which sound bleedin' fantastic, and given the eventful life she led before breaking into film, I imagine would make for a fantastic read.


  1. Sounds like fodder for a Tarantino film.

  2. Now that you mention it, it does have quite the air of Inglourious Basterds about it.

  3. I was pure convinced that she was interviewed as part of Mark Gatiss' History of Horror series - but I was totally wrong. It's odd because she was such an integral part of the Hammer Horror image. You've got to love a good lesbian vampire eh?

  4. @ WR - She most certainly was!

    @ Sarah - You absolutely do. History of Horror was fantastic, I'm so in awe of Mark Gatiss, he can actually do no wrong! Did you see Barbara Steele being interviewed? She was so gloriously loopy and intense.


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