Countess Dracula (1971) Dractober Review

Wait a minute!

This movie isn’t about Dracula. It’s not even about a ‘real’ vampire. I shall have to complain to the Dractober planning department about this one. Oh well, as we’re here, we might as well delve into this story of black magic and court intrigue based on the 16th century Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Báthory, who was allegedly responsible for the deaths of more than 600 girls and young women, all by means of torture.

In medieval Europe, the ageing Countess Elisabeth (Ingrid Pitt) rules harshly with the help of her lover Captain Dobi (Nigel Green). Discovering that washing in the blood of young girls makes her young again she manipulates Dobi into abducting likely candidates. Rejuvenated, the Countess pretends to be her own daughter and takes a young lover, much to Dobi’s annoyance. But as the disappearances mount up, the Countess discovers that only the blood of virgins will produce the desired results and Dobi’s task becomes much more difficult.

Buxom, salacious and ever so sleazy, the pursuit of youthful beauty at any cost is the driving force behind this adaptation of Hungarian legend. The ‘Dracula’ name has been used mainly for brand recognition based on the tenuous link to the use of the blood of innocents. Still, it was enough to hoodwink me when I compiled my Dractober list. Well played, Hammer.

Unfortunately, the grisly central premise is wrapped in swathes of dull political manoeuvring. Pitt is sultry and effective as the evil Countess, even under the liberally applied old-age make-up effects but the performance is hampered by her being dubbed by an uncredited Olive Gregg. There’s a definite air of corruption in amidst the drama and while it often has a nightmare-like quality to it, it ends up being more dark fairy tale than full-blooded vampire tale. Where it should be a huge rollercoaster of a movie, crammed with sizzling gypsies, it’s merely a decent  Hammer House of Horror potboiler and far too anaemic for Dractober’s tastes.


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