Monday, 25 February 2013

Countess Dracula (1971)

Okay, let's be clear about this from the start. This is not really a Dracula movie, we don't get any fangs or big bats or people who sleep in coffins. This is, however, an excellent Hammer flick loosely based on the legends woven around the life of Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy (Ingrid Pitt) is much put out when she hears the reading of her deceased husband's will. It orders his fortune to be shared between his widow and his only daughter (played by Lesley-Anne Down). Rather than share the wealth the countess comes up with a plan after finding that the blood of young girls can make her look young and gorgeous again. With youth back on her side, she bags herself a handsome man (Sandor Eles) and arranges to have her daughter waylaid en route and then proceeds to take her place. But just how long can she keep finding the victims she needs to retain her youth?

Jeremy Paul wrote the screenplay, based on a story by a number of people who took inspiration from the life of lady Bathory, and Peter Sasdy directed this lusty, busty release from the studio that dripped blood and it's a good job they do too.

Once fans get over the disappointment of this not being an actual vampire movie there's much to enjoy here. It has plenty of nefarious scheming, all planned and carried out by a beautiful femme fatale. The look of the thing is up to Hammer's usual standards, the cast are all very good (the central role helped to make Pitt quite the horror icon while Nigel Green is wonderful as a co-conspirator, Sandor Eles is very good as the unwitting object of Elisabeth's affection and the rest of the cast do just fine, despite all being overshadowed by Miss Pitt's luminous beauty) and the pacing is just right.

It's the perfect blend of blood and lust, with an essence of sleaze given an outer coating of velvet finesse, that made the studio such a bankable name at its height and I recommend this movie to all of the fans.


1 comment:

  1. The weaker of the Bathory movies I have seen, which is interesting given my love for Ingrid Pitt.