Countess Dracula

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Countess Dracula
Comtesse des Grauens Poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Produced by Alexander Paal
Written by Jeremy Paul
Starring Ingrid Pitt
Music by Harry Robertson
Cinematography Kenneth Talbot
Edited by Henry Richardson
Distributed by Hammer Film Productions
20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • January 31, 1971 (1971-01-31)
Running time 93 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Countess Dracula is a 1971 Hammer horror film based on the legends surrounding the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Báthory. It is in many ways atypical of Hammer's canon, attempting to broaden Hammer's output from Dracula and Frankenstein sequels.

The film was produced by Alexander Paal and directed by Peter Sasdy, Hungarian émigrés working in England. The original music score was composed by Harry Robertson.

Plot[edit]

In 17th-century Hungary, recently widowed Countess Elisabeth Nádasdy discovers that her youthful appearance and libido can be temporarily restored if she bathes in the blood of young women. She enlists her steward and lover, Captain Dobi, to help with the kidnap and murder of countless local girls, whilst having another sexual affair with young Lt. Imre Toth. As a cover for her crimes while in her rejuvenated state, she takes the identity of her own daughter; but castle historian Fabio grows suspicious. Eventually she kills a prostitute called Ziza and it doesn't help, Dobi finds Fabio who has a chapter about blood sacrifices and tells Elisabeth the truth in return for being allowed to live, he says only a virgin sacrifice will work. She then kills more virgins. Fabio tries to tell Toth the truth about his lover, but Dobi kills him before he can. He then shows Toth Elisabeth to jade him away from her. Elisabeth forces Toth into marrying her but her daughter Ilona arrives home, Elisabeth grows old again and tries to kill her daughter but kills Toth instead. Elisabeth, Dobi, and her maid are sentenced to death for their crimes and are last seen awaiting the hangman in their cell. In the last scene a peasant curses her as "devil woman" and "Countess Dracula".

Countess Dracula was based on Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Bathory (our modern day Elizabeth) who lived from 1560 to 1614. Countess Bathory was allegedly responsible for the deaths of approximately six hundred virgin girls, all of which involved torture and gruesome methods of killing. Her atrocities are mostly speculation.

Cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Allmovie called the film "one of the more underrated films from the latter days of the Hammer Films dynasty."[1] The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, on the other hand, wrote that the film's "distinctly anemic blood-lettings fail to lift a rather tiresome tale of court intrigue."[2]

New York Times film critic Howard Thompson considered it "better than most [horror movies] in a sea of trashy competition." Calling Peter Sasdy's direction "smooth and pointed" with "crisp, cutting edge" dialogue. That is, until the last part of the movie where "it runs out of gas, along with the desperate old woman [Countess Elizabeth]."[3]

Availability[edit]

The film is available on DVD from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the USA as a double-bill with The Vampire Lovers, and from Carlton in the UK in a box set with Twins of Evil and Vampire Circus.

In 2014, Synapse released a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in the US featuring a new high definition transfer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Donald Guarisco. "Countess Dracula - Review". Allmovie. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 143.
  3. ^ "Double Bill of Horror Arrives". New York Times. October 12, 1972. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
Sources
  • Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (September 25, 2007). "Countess Dracula". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films [The Hammer Story] (in English) (Limited ed.). Titan Books. ASIN 1845761855. ISBN 978-1845761851. OCLC 493684031. 

External links[edit]