Synopsis: When a voracious vampire vixen (Ingrid Pitt) discovers that virgins’ blood holds the secret to eternal youth, it’s not time at all before she’s squeezing her sweet young chambermaids into a blood-chilling beauty cream. But there’s a wrinkle in her plan when her beloved, Captain Dobi, stumbles on her bloody secret-and she finally learns that a little mass murder really can suck the romance out of your love life!
Countess Dracula 7.0
‘Countess Dracula’ is very loosely based on the horrific tales of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, a mass murderer who, with the aid of a few collaborators is said to have killed dozens, if not hundreds of girls. One of the worst tales, and the one around which many stories revolve, is that she would bathe in virgins’ blood in order to remain youthful.
That creepy legend is what this particular film is focused on.
Our main character is the Countess herself (played with a bit more flair than usual by Ingrid Pitt): she is an aged widow who accidentally discovers that blood rejuvenates her. It doesn’t take long before she starts manipulating her lover and her chambermaid into getting more girls to bleed in order for her to retain her youth. To prevent scandal, she keeps it all a secret and masquerades as her daughter (whom she has secluded in a cabin in the woods). But things, as you can imagine, don’t exactly go as planned…
As with ‘The Vampire Lovers’, the first thing that stands out is the title: it’s an attention-grabber. With a name like that, how could it fail? Forget the fact that the lead character is only referenced as ‘Countess Dracula’ in passing by an extra in the last frame of the film – with the notoriety of our friendly ol’ Count Dracula, no horror-fan could possibly stay away from a female equivalent!
Too bad the countess is in no way a vampire. Well, she is in the sense that she preys on others. And I suppose that maybe a “blood” connection could be made. But, otherwise, there’s not much in this film that relates to the vampire myth. I’m sure that there were a lot of disappointed cinemagoers at the time.
Personally, I was able to ignore the title and enjoy what is a generally solid film – for the era, and for the genre. It has a decent storyline, a fair cast (even if their deliveries were more theatrical than natural), nice sets that offer simili-realism, suitable locations, a good pace and average filmmaking. It’s an overall proficient production that was likely made with comparatively few funds.
My main issues with the film are the make-up, which is nothing like the aging techniques in ‘Benjamin Button’, although it isn’t bad enough that it deters from the film itself (if you put it in context, that is). And then there is the ending. The ending on these film is supposed to be the clincher: they usually provide audiences either satisfaction or surprise. In this case, the filmmakers failed at both because they pretty much hurried their way through a predictable fate for our lead.
But, beyond that, it’s a good enough film for a rainy day or a late night. ‘Countess Dracula’ in no way reinvents the wheel, but, in a well-worn genre, it delivers the goods more satisfactorily than most of its peers – and it’s notable in that its source is vastly different. Granted, there have been many superior horror films since, but from what I’ve seen (and as I understood it from my readings), this is a standout of the non-Christopher Lee or Vincent Price spookshows.
It’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre or if you have an insatiable curiosity.