|Directed by||Peter Sasdy|
|Produced by||Alexander Paal|
|Written by||Jeremy Paul|
|Music by||Harry Robertson|
|Edited by||Henry Richardson|
|Distributed by||The Rank Organisation (UK)
20th Century Fox (USA)
Countess Dracula is a 1971 British horror film based on the legends surrounding the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Báthory. It is in many ways atypical of Hammer's canon, an attempt to diversify the studio's output from Dracula and Frankenstein sequels.
The film was produced by Alexander Paal and directed by Peter Sasdy, both Hungarian émigrés working in England. The original music score was composed by Harry Robertson. Countess Dracula was also released on a double bill with Vampire Circus.
|This section may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. (October 2015)|
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 her maid Julie to help with the kidnap and murder of several local girls, whilst having another sexual affair with a young Lieutenant, Imre Toth. As a cover for her crimes while in her rejuvenated state, she takes the identity of her own daughter, Countess Ilona, whom she had Dobi held captive in the wood. However, 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 Báthory (1560-1614), who was responsible for the deaths of allegedly 600 girls and young women, all of which involved torture and gruesome methods of killing.
- Ingrid Pitt as Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy (Voice dubbed by Olive Gregg, uncredited)
- 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
- Alex Greenland (uncredited) as Choir Boy
Allmovie has retrospectively 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 called 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]."
Synapse released a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in the U.S. in 2014, which featured a new high-definition transfer.
- Vampire film
- Cruelty and the Beast, a concept album by Cradle of Filth on which Pitt performs narration as Báthory.
- 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.