countess dracula | peter sasdy | jeremy paul | ingrid pitt | nigel green | sandor eles | countess bathory | remake | united kingdom | maurice denham | patience collier | peter jeffrey | lesley-anne down | leon lissek | jessie evans | andrea lawrence | hammer film
Film: Countess Dracula
Director: Peter Sasdy
Writer: Jeremy Paul
Starring: Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green and Sandor Elès
This was a Hammer film that I hadn’t seen or really heard of. When the film first started, I immediately figured out this is a telling of the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is an interesting possibly historical figure. I will delve into more about her in a bit. The synopsis is in 17th-century Hungary, elderly widow Countess Elisabeth Nádasdy (Ingrid Pitt) maintains her misleading youthful appearance by bathing in the blood of virgins regularly supplied to her by faithful servant Captain Dobi (Nigel Green).
We start at the funeral of the Count. There is a man who shows up late, Imre Toth (Sandor Elès). He is given dirty looks from Captain Dobi. Then at the reading of the will it gets even worse when Imre is left stables and all of the horses. The Countess isn’t very happy to learn that she has split the estate and the money with her daughter, who hasn’t arrived yet.
This film introduces the character of the Countess. She had an ongoing affair with Dobi. She is interested in Imre, but she is quite old. To be honest though, I believe it is more to make herself feel young instead of the man himself. The woman is quite evil. There is a serving girl who makes her bathwater too hot. After scolding her hand and attacking her, blood from the young girl gets on her face. She wipes it away to see that it makes her young again. She then calls for the woman to come back to her room.
We then see what the Countess looked like when she was young. She comes on to Imre, pretending to be her daughter. Ilona (Lesley-Anne Down) is kidnapped on her way home and given to a creepy man. The reason is that the Countess doesn’t want Imre to realize who she really is. He falls for her and they start to spend a lot of time together. The problem is that the effects wear off and she needs another victim.
I have to say that I found this film to be quite intriguing. As I said to start this off, the character of Elizabeth Bathory is quite intriguing to me. This film is a bit misleading and I’m almost 100% positive they called it Countess Dracula to get fans of their Dracula films to check this one out. I can see calling her that though, even though she isn’t a vampire and doesn’t drink the blood. She is bathing in it to make herself young again. It is a cool concept regardless and I like how this film uses it. There is especially an interesting aspect where a local prostitute is used.
This film does really have an interesting look at how evil the Countess is as well. She has cheated on her husband for many years with Dobi. The moment she realizes she can be young again, she goes after Imre and shuns her lover of many years. She even goes as far to have her daughter kidnapped to preserve her secret. There is a bit of this I have issue with. Dobi and her servant Julie (Patience Collier) both know that it is really the Countess and not her daughter. She has gone as far to tell Julie that her daughter passed away on her journey. Imre and the master of the library, Fabio (Maurice Denham) both think she is Ilona. The issue here is that she cannot keep up this charade forever and I found that bit odd.
I will say that this film, like many of the Hammer films, doesn’t have the deepest story. There is just mostly the main story of what Countess is doing in the castle and then the sub-plot of Ilona being held against her will. Despite this, I do think the pacing of the film is good. I never found myself bored and was quite intrigued to see where they were going to take us. I will say that it doesn’t do great at building tension though. The ending much like a lot of Hammer films, is a bit abrupt, but I like what is going to happen.
To move next to the acting, which I thought was pretty good across the board. Pitt though was amazing. I like the make-up on her to have her look old. When she becomes young, she is absolutely stunning. She is quite busty and doesn’t seem to mind to show off her chest a few times. I had no issues there. Her acting though is great in how evil her character is. Green is solid as the villain who loves her but is slighted as well. This causes him to do some pretty nefarious things. Elès is solid, but I did have issues with him in the beginning of the third act. Overall though, he is solid. I do want to give credit to a young Down as she was solid in her role. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed.
Next I will touch on the effects of the film. Being the time period, there isn’t actually a lot. I do like the blood even though it doesn’t look real as it looks a bit fluorescent. It is really one of the aspects of the era I let slide. The film hides a lot of the wounds which I’m fine with. The aftereffects do look fine though. The setting of the film in the castle is good and I think the film is shot very well.
Now with that said this one I actually enjoyed without knowing a whole lot about it. It is an interesting concept, even though the title is a bit misleading. The character of Elizabeth Bathory I definitely find intriguing. The acting of Pitt really brings her to life, which I like. The rest of the cast rounded out for what is needed. The story isn’t very complex and because of it, it doesn’t build as much tension as I would like. It still was entertaining for sure. There’s not a lot in the way of effects, but what we get are fine, the setting is solid and it is shot well. The soundtrack of the film also didn’t really stand out, but it doesn’t hurt the film. Overall I’d say this is an above average film and I enjoyed it. If you like the story of this character, I’d recommend giving this a viewing or if you like Hammer horror films.
My Rating: 7 out of 10