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Genres: Horror
Actors: Ingrid Pitt , Nigel Green , Sandor Elès , Maurice Denham , Patience Collier , Peter Jeffrey , Lesley-Anne Down , Leon Lissek , Jessie Evans , Andrea Lawrence , Susan Brodrick , Ian Trigger , Nike Arrighi , Peter May , John Moore
Director: Peter Sasdy
Country: United Kingdom
Year: 1971
IMDB Rating: 5.8/10 (1562 votes)

In medieval Europe aging Countess Elisabeth rules harshly with the help of lover Captain Dobi. Finding that washing in the blood of young girls makes her young again she gets Dobi to start abducting likely candidates. The Countess – pretending to be her own daughter – starts dallying with a younger man, much to Dobi’s annoyance. The disappearances cause mounting terror locally, and when she finds out that only the blood of a virgin does the job, Dobi is sent out again with a more difficult task.

Film Review

Well. I am unfamiliar with the Hammer series, and so have nothing to add about that. This film was a bit of a disappointment. Yes, there were scenes of a lush countryside, and medieval costumes. There was some good acting (Nigel Green, Andrea Lawrence) and some so-so performances (Maurice Denham, Lesley-Anne Down). The direction was uninspiring, yet unobtrusive. I suppose the problem must lie in the writing. The main character, Countess Elizabeth Nodosheen (Ingrid Pitt) was of zero redeeming value. She invites the viewer's contempt, but other characters, such as Captain Dobi (Green) were little better. It isn't so much that characters are evil, but that they were (the unforgivable cinematic sin) boring.

~Spoiler~ I accidentally discovered this classic film. I bought a MGM double feature DVD for The Vampire Lovers and ended up liking Countess Dracula far better. It’s a superb Gothic story recounting the tale of Elizabeth Bathory who bathed in the blood of virgins to stay young. Ingrid Pitt stars as the titular Countess and is a delight as both the young and old incarnations of the Countess. Fans of the usual Hammer vampire films may not like this one because it is anything but formulaic. There are no fangs in this movie! The Dracula in the title is a metaphor. There is no bloodsucking to be found so you may be disappointed if that’s what you are looking for. The plot here really picks up when Pitt discovers that virgin’s blood is indeed the fountain of youth, but there is also a great love triangle at the film’s core. The whole thing is very story driven and could also work as a stage play. The entire cast is likable with Pitt and Nigel Green as my favorites. Sandor Eles is quite good…

A bit static and very inaccurate, but wonderfully atmospheric version of Erzsebet Bathory's story. Lasciviously sadistic young beauty from 16th century Hungary, Erzsebet of the legend is now old and almost tragic feudal despot (Ingrid Pitt in old age make-up), turning younger by bathing in the blood of stabbed women. Scenery, costumes and photography are gorgeous and classy in Hammer's romantic Gothic style, and pseudo-Hungarian score is equally wonderful. There is very little violence – story is wildly sanitized – but lot of Gothic elegance and atmosphere and deliciously melodramatic dialogue. Best of many movie versions.


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