Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Overlooked Movies: Countess Dracula

"When American movies like The Exorcist and A Nightmare on Elm Street came along, the writing was on the wall for the British period horror film. Now horror had to be very much set in the present day, and those Hammer trappings began to seem old-fashioned. Ironically, that's the very thing that has made the films more and more fondly remembered as the years passed by. But those movies were considered very strong stuff in their day. Except that I always felt that Countess Dracula (for censorship and other reasons) pulled its punches somewhat. On the set, I tried to insist they made more of her bathing in blood, but the director Peter Sasdy mentioned censorship, and I think it would have been a far more powerful film if we'd been able to show just how depraved Bathory was. That's actually the case with most real-life monsters and their equivalents in film. Ed Gein (who is in my book) inspired both Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and did far more horrible things than either of those films showed, but I suppose that it's inevitable such changes will occur." ~Ingrid Pitt on the death of the British period horror film.

In medieval Europe 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.

Click here to watch the trailer:

Fun Trivia:
Countess Dracula was based on Hungarian Countess Erzsebet (our modern day "Elizabeth") Bathory who lived from 1560 to 1614. Countess Bathory was allegedly responsible for the deaths of approximately 600 virgin girls, all of which involved torture and gruesome methods of killing. Her atrocities are mostly speculation. She is credited for influencing our modern day concept of Dracula as an entity depending on human blood for youth and vitality.

Ingrid Pitt's voice was dubbed. Supposedly, she was so furious at director Peter Sasdy that she vowed never to speak to him again.

The picture that appears behind the opening credits is an 1896 painting by Hungarian artist Istvan Csok. It shows the real Countess Bathory enjoying the torture of some young women by her servants. In an inner courtyard of one of her castles, the naked girls are being drenched with water and allowed to freeze to death in the snow.

Ingrid Pitt replaced Diana Rigg who turned the role down. Ingrid Pitt reprised her role as Bathory / Nodosheen on the 1998 Cradle of Filth album, Cruelty and the Beast.

The MPAA rating for this movie keeps changing. It varies from a PG rating to an R rating. The film was originally given an X rating in England.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That movie was one that I saw years ago and never forgot - how fun to find it on your site! I will have to locate it and rewatch!