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For years the populace of Styria have lived in fear of the Karnsteins, a dynasty of vampires. Baron Hartog's sister becomes the latest victim, and the baron seeks revenge. One night, he unearths the coffins in the Karnstein graveyard and drives stakes through the hearts of the living dead. Only the grave of the beautiful Mircalla Karnstein eludes the Baron's vengeance. Years later, a society ball at the home of General Spielsdorf is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a young woman called Marcilla, dressed in a red gown. The unexpected guest moves into the household and separates the general's daughter Laura from her fiancé, Carl. Laura soon becomes increasingly listless and is haunted by recurrent nightmares in which she is attacked by a giant cat. When the general returns home one evening, he discovers Laura dead, drained of all her blood, and Marcilla gone. Afterwards, an alluring young lady named Carmilla visits Emma Morton, who was Laura's best friend, and wins the confidence of Emma and her father, Roger Morton. When Morton is called away on a business trip, Carmilla seduces Emma, who subsequently becomes ill and wakes up screaming from erotic nightmares. The governess and Renton, the butler, also fall under Carmilla's spell, but Renton writes to Morton about his daughter's strange malady. When the doctor who was sent to examine Laura is found dead and bloodless, Morton enlists the aid of Baron Hartog and Carl. While Morton and the baron search for Mircalla Karnstein's grave, Carl rushes back to the house in time to prevent Carmilla from abducting Emma. As Carl lunges towards Carmilla with his sword pointed at her heart, she vanishes and then reappears in her crypt, where the baron impales and decapitates her.