COUNTESS DRACULA-United Kingdom-93 Mins. 1971
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Screenplay by Jeremy Paul
Story by Alexander Paal and Peter Sasdy
Idea by Gabriel Ronap
Book: “The Bloody Countess: The Atrocities of Erzsebet Bathory” by Valentine Penrose (Uncredited)
Countess Dracula is one of those films that, as the credits roll, I say to myself “Now let me see if I’ve got this straight”:
The Countess Elisabeth Nodosheen is old and haggard in appearance.
She strikes a chambermaid in anger, drawing blood.
The blood splashes on her face, causing it to return to its youthful appearance.
She enlists the aid of Julie Sentash the Nurse and Capt. Dobi the Castle Steward in procuring countless young girls from the village for her to murder and bathe in their blood so that she may remain young and beautiful.
Are you with me so far? Good.
Meanwhile, Ilona Nodosheen is abducted while returning home from abroad. Countess Elisabeth, now all hot and busty, assumes the role of her daughter.
In her new deception she wins the heart of the young soldier Imre Toth, who believes her to be Ilona.
When she is old she has eyes on Capt. Dobi; when she is young she has eyes and every other part of her body on Imre Toth. This woman may need the blood of virgins to stay young but she is such a slut.
Master Fabio, Castle Historian is suspicious of the Countess and keeps as close an eye on her as he can but it is all for naught.
Countess Dracula is a rather bloodless affair. Let’s be honest with ourselves: this is a Hammer film loaded with beautiful women with heaving bosoms that fill their corsets to bursting and beyond. Ingrid Pitt has the body of a goddess and is a delight to watch as she manipulates her way through the men in her life. I also like that despite the film being fiction, it still maintains its faithfulness to the legend of the Countess Erzsebet Bathory.
Countess Dracula isn’t the finest film from the Hammer Studios. It is, however, a welcome distraction on a lonely Sunday afternoon.
Ingrid Pitt’s voice was dubbed. Supposedly, she was so furious at director Peter Sasdy that she vowed never to speak to him again.
Countess Dracula was based on Hungarian Countess Erzsebet (our modern day “Elizabeth”) Bathory who lived from 1560 to 1614. Countess Bathory was allegedly responsible for the deaths of approximately 600 virgin girls, all of which involved torture and gruesome methods of killing. Her atrocities are mostly speculation. She is credited for influencing our modern day concept of Dracula as an entity depending on human blood for youth and vitality.
The picture that appears behind the opening credits is an 1896 painting by Hungarian artist Istvan Csok. It shows the real Countess Bathory enjoying the torture of some young women by her servants. In an inner courtyard of one of her castles, the naked girls are being drenched with water and allowed to freeze to death in the snow.
Ingrid Pitt replaced Diana Rigg who turned the role down.
Ingrid Pitt also appears in The Wicker Man and Where Eagles Dare.
Nigel Green also appears in Zulu and The Masque of the Red Death.
Sandor Elès also appears in Love and Death and The Evil of Frankenstein.
Maurice Denham also appears in The Day of the Jackal and Sunday Bloody Sunday.
Lesley-Anne Down also appears in School for Unclaimed Girls and In the Devil’s Garden.
Patience Collier also appears in Fiddler on the Roof and The French Lieutenant’s Woman.