Sunday, June 12, 2011

Countess Dracula (1971)

Director: Peter Sasdy

Starring: Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green, Sandor Eles, Maurice Denham, Patience Collier, Peter Jeffrey, Lesley-Anne Down

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Blood. The more she drinks, the prettier she gets. The prettier she gets, the thirstier she gets.

Plot: 17th Century Hungary. Aging Countess Elisabeth rules harshly with the help of lover Captain Dobi. Finding that washing in the blood of young girls makes her young again she gets Dobi to start abducting likely candidates. The Countess - pretending to be her own daughter - starts dallying with a younger man, much to Dobi's annoyance. The disappearances cause mounting terror locally, and when she finds out that only the blood of a virgin does the job, Dobi is sent out again with a more difficult task.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

#40 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

OK, so I expected the usual Hammer Gothic horror flick set in 19th Europe with an actual vampire and stuff. That it was set in 17th Century Hungary and with no vampire as we know them threw me off a bit but I soon got to digging it without a care in the world. I liked the Hungarian setting. Even though it's not radically different from the look of the other Gothic horror films Hammer put out, it is something different, which was based on a story by director Peter Sasdy and producer Alexander Paal (both Hungarian).

FACT: Ingrid Pitt is scrummy and needs to have my babies. That she died in 2010 might complicate matters but modern science could provide a major breakthrough for the two of us.

And let us not forget that badass actor extraordinaire, Nigel Green!

COUNTESS DRACULA is paced well, you don't get claustrophobic sitting the same place (the Countess's castle, for example) and there are more cutaway shots than I can recall in another Hammer picture. It keeps the picture breathing. There's also not a short supply of beauties in all manner of undress, either. Eh? Nudge, nudge. Say no more! Oh, but I must. I must!

Harry Robinson's score has just the right flavor to fulfill the believability of time and place. He did several fine scores for latter-day Hammer horror vampire pictures like THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971) and TWINS OF EVIL (1971). It's a shame he didn't do more. Next to James Bernard, his were tops.

The ending is nicely downbeat compared to other Hammer horror outings. That is to say, people you wouldn't expect to snuff it...well...snuff it. This makes for a satisfying film. Like a lot of these types of pictures from Hammer, don't expect a lot of action and you'll have a good time. That's not to say there isn't any but you'll want to sit back, relax and absorb yourself into the atmosphere. You know, escapism.

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