|Directed by||Peter Sasdy|
|Produced by||Alexander Paal|
|Written by||Jeremy Paul|
|Music by||Harry Robertson|
|Edited by||Henry Richardson|
|Distributed by||The Rank Organization (UK)
20th Century Fox (USA)
Countess Dracula is a 1971 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.
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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, and maid, Julie, to help with the kidnap and murder of several 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, Countess Ilona; who she had Dobi held captive in the wood, 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 to help Elisabeth remain young and beautiful. She then kills more virgins, from peasant girls to the servant girls in the palace. 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 the peasants curse 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 girls and young women, all of which involved torture and gruesome methods of killing.
- Ingrid Pitt as Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy
- Nigel Green as Captain Dobi, the castle steward
- Sandor Elès as Lt. Imre Toth
- Maurice Denham as Grand Master Fabio, castle historian
- Patience Collier as Julie Szentes, the Nurse
- Lesley-Anne Down as Countess Ilona Nadasdy, Elisabeth's daughter
- Peter Jeffrey as Captain Balogh, chief bailiff
- Leon Lissek as Sergeant of Bailiffs
- Jessie Evans as Rosa, Teri's mother
- Andrea Lawrence as Ziza, the whore at the Shepperd's Inn
- Susan Brodrick as Teri, the chambermaid
- Nike Arrighi as Fortune telling gypsy girl
- Marianne Stone as Kitchen Maid
- Charles Farrell as The Seller
- Anne Stallybrass as Pregnant Woman
Allmovie called the film "one of the more underrated films from the latter days of the Hammer Films dynasty." 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."
New York Times film critic Howard Thompson considered it "better than most [horror movies] in a sea of trashy competition", and calling Peter Sasdy's direction "smooth and pointed" with "crisp, cutting edge" dialogue, until the last act of the film where "it runs out of gas, along with the desperate old woman [Countess Elizabeth]."
In 2014, Synapse released a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in the US featuring a new high definition transfer.
- Vampire film
- Cruelty and the Beast, a concept album by Cradle of Filth on which Pitt performs narration as Bathory.
- Donald Guarisco. "Countess Dracula - Review". Allmovie. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
- Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 143.
- "Double Bill of Horror Arrives". New York Times. 12 October 1972. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (25 September 2007). "Countess Dracula". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films [The Hammer Story] (Limited ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 978-1845761851. OCLC 493684031.