Countess Dracula (1971) 4/5
Ingrid Pitt, the unanimously crowned ‘Queen Of Horror,’ appears in her most celebrated role. Dracula is a bit of a misnomer, though, as there is no Dracula in the film. (Just an uttered “Countess Dracula!” at the end to maybe justify the title.) There isn’t even any vampirism.
Pitt plays the historic figure of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who was said (probably falsely) to have murdered hundreds of women to bathe in their blood. Nice.
In the film, the aged Countess accidentally discovers that the blood of a young virgin has regenerative effects. (Probably in the way that I accidentally discovered drinking vinegar as a kid made me vomit.) And so begins her quest for eternal youth. Both her and Madonna.
But every time the effect wears off, she ages greater than before. And there are only so many deaths or missing girls you can get away with before suspicions start to mount. (Not that I’m speaking from experience, you understand. Honest.)
Pitt is great as the woman who manipulates those around her to get what she wants, not least the man who has been besotted with her for the last twenty years: Captain Dobi, played brilliantly by Nigel Green of Zulu fame.
However, the Countess now has her eyes on a younger man, passing herself off as her daughter, who she has had imprisoned in a cottage deep within the forest by a mute.
Bathory seems to be getting her way until, horror of horrors, her real self is revealed at the wedding ceremony.
In the end, as the enormity of her crimes are discovered, it is the noose that awaits the Countess. She really should have given Oil of Ulay a go instead.
Although not a favourite, (and surprisingly with little actual horror in it), it is a good film which, along with The Vampire Lovers, defines a Hammer favourite in Ms Pitt.