A little anecdote before I start my review. I lived in London where I went to university and studied Film. I stayed on after uni for 13 years. There were many famous people who I respected that I saw in passing and spoke to. It would take one hell of a celebrity for me to feel starstruck and not have the balls to go up and chat to. One such person was Ingrid Pitt. I’ve been smitten with this divine creature ever since I saw her in horror films when I was a boy. She was standing on a Tube station platform and I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was as regal and gorgeous as ever and she stood in such high standing for me that I was too intimidated to go up and say hello. Now, on with the review…

I first saw Countess Dracula in 1987 when Tyne Tees Television were showing most of Hammer Studio’s glorious output. The film is based on the real-life figure of Elizabeth Bathory. Pitt plays Countess Elizabeth Nadasdy who becomes younger when she bathes in the blood of young female virgins. When Elizabeth becomes younger she takes on the identity of her 17-year-old daughter Ilona whom she has arranged to be held captive in a secluded hut in a nearby forest so that Elizabeth’s secret isn’t exposed.


This film is glorious. It’s risque because of its subject matter and also brings in other taboo (for those times) elements such as lesbianism. Countess Dracula feels like it was pushing boundaries in film and clearly relishes doing it.

It’s also risque because it’s just a little bit rude. I love the scene where Elizabeth speaks to young Lieutenant Imre Toth for the first time and her gaze lowers from his face to, erm, lower down on his body. Pitt is perfect casting as the Countess with a simmering, smouldering sexuality and natural charm that is possessed in spades by the actress.


There’s also some cracking dialogue within the film. When a domestic states that her daughter is missing, Elizabeth’s husband Captain Dobi pithily replies ‘Have you tried the local whorehouse?’ I thought I was watching a John Waters film for a moment.


I also love the fact that Elizabeth gets craggier and appears to decompose when she hasn’t bathed in blood for a while. The fact that this happens suddenly and not gradually is also another great feature of the narrative and rather unfortunate for Elizabeth.

This also happens in reverse- when she receives the youth-giving elixir of a virgin’s blood, she instantly appears younger. The sequence in which a domestic cuts herself very badly with the blood splattering on Elizabeth who instantly appears younger and is revitalised is fantastic.


Countess Dracula is one of my favourite Hammer films. Perfectly cast, shot and scripted. It also introduced me to the goddess that is Ingrid Pitt. Job done.

4 stars out of 5


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