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11th BLOODSUCKING BABE
English born, German raised Veronica Mary Glazer was already a published model when Hammer Films boss James Carrera noticed her and featured her opposite Christopher Lee in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968, dir Freddie Francis). A stunning beauty with genuine talent, she dazzled on the big screen and would go on to feature in arguably the studio’s best movie of the 1960s,Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969, dir Terence Fisher) and The Horror of Frankenstein (1970, dir Jimmy Sangster), Columbia-Warner’s 1974 spoof Vampira (dir Clive Donner) and Freddie Francis’ chiller The Ghoul (1975).
In her breakout role opposite Christopher Lee, Carlson plays Maria, portrayed in John Elder’s screenplay as the object of the evil Count’s lust. Fans of the film (and its saucy poster) will understand instantly why Carlson was hired – Hammer had cultivated a reputation for being the home of blood and boobs in a decade that was more liberal and permissive than those that had gone before. While being a sex object might not seem like a great feminist breaking of barriers, it was a significant stride from the damsels in distress and background dressing of previous decades. Add to that, Hammer’s women were rarely simpering, passive characters – the roles played by Carlson and the other women of Hammer were confident and assured, often forthright and aggressive. The character of Maria was actually Dracula’s opposite in the film – the brilliant light to his darkness, refined and ladylike yet resourceful and formidable. During her career, Carlson herself was very much the same - not averse to traversing dangerous rooftops or careening through the woods on top of a carriage pulled by galloping horses.
Carlson would go on to play an even more significant character in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, the tortured Anna. Blackmailed by the titular Baron, Anna must assist in kidnap, help Frankenstein in his escape from the police, before unwittingly incurring the wrath of Peter Cushing’s evil scientist and dying at the Baron’s hands. An emotionally taut role, Carlson would imbue it with the necessary depth to make Anna’s eventual death a sad and overwhelmingly tragic one.
A fan of Hammer movies since her teens, Carlson had originally wanted to be an archaeologist when schools were pushing girls in the direction of secretarial roles and little else. College opened her up to art, and to modelling, and she was delighted to become a player in some of the studio’s most legendary films, and relished the opportunity to perform in several breath-taking stunts and scenes. Indeed, her roles were action-packed, nuanced and well-played, and she was an important part of the continued success of the Hammer formula.