Hammer Film Productions sure loved the Count but you can hardly blame them as much of their success can be attributed to the legendary blood sucker. It’s interesting that Countess Dracula has next to nothing to do with traditional vampires let alone Dracula himself. Instead this story is based on the infamous Countess Erzsebet Bathory.
Starring the wonderful Ingrid Pitt in the lead role as Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy, Countess Dracula is a masterpiece of Hammer horror film making. Delectably adult in nature, it’s age hasn’t soften most of its more violent & surprising moments.
Set in 17th Century Hungary, Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy accidentally discovers that she can recover her youth temporarily by using the blood of young, virgin women. Along with her lover, Captain Dobi & her maid she sets about kidnapping local girls, murdering them & using their blood to stay youthful.
To help cover her tracks she pretends to be her own daughter who was returning to the castle after years away. Countess Ilona is held in captivity by a local farmer allowing Countess Elisabeth to indulge in all her youthful fantasies. One of which involves the young Lieutenant, Imre Toth who falls madly in love with her younger self.
As the body count begins to rise, the Countess gets more & more desperate to keep her youthful looks but Dobi is getting frustrated & jealous of her blooming relationship with Toth. He wants the young man out of the picture & will stop at nothing to have the Countess all to himself.
In her desperation to stay young the townspeople are becoming very aware of the missing girls & tales of horrific events occurring in the castle are beginning to spread. With the Countess & Toth’s wedding day fast approaching she is forced to sink to new depths to get exactly what she wants…
Countess Dracula is an exciting tale based partially in reality with a great cast & willing to push the 1970’s boundaries ensure this Hammer horror lives long in the memory. It’s far from perfect with the final third portion of the movie lacking the same pace & excitement found early on. The make-up job to make the stunning Ingrid Pitt look old is terrible. It would have made much more sense to have her wear a veil to mask her face & it would have tied into her characters hatred of her old age.
Anytime the terrible make-up job appears on screen it takes you out of the story reminding you you’re watching a movie from the early 1970s. It’s an issue that’s really hard to overlook as it crops up several times throughout.
Besides that, the film is an enjoyable treat with splashes of blood & violence that fits into the narrative with a perceived threat from the Countess that is dripping from her every word. Ingrid Pitt makes this movie so damn watchable.