Countess Dracula

Production Year: 1971
Release Date: 05/06/2014
Studio: Synapse Films

In 1971 Hammer Studios took a stab at the Elizabeth Bathory mythos with the film Countess Dracula. Elizabeth Bathory is regarded as one of the most savage female serial killers in history, the blood thirsty queen was dubbed "Countess Dracula" and was rumored to have bathed in the blood of virgins in order to keep her young looks. In Countess Dracula the beloved Ingrid Pitt takes on the role of Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy, while both selfish and cruel, the countess doesn't become blood thirsty until a young maidens blood is accidentally spattered on Nadasdy's face. The countess quickly notices the young woman's blood has caused her aging skin to have a younger appearance so she quickly dispatches the woman for more of her vital blood.

With her new look Liz decides to take on the identity of her daughter Ilona, she then sets her sight on courting the young Imre Toth (Sandor El├Ęs). Her now youthful appearance comes with a price however, while it takes for a brief period of time once it wears off her elderly look will return with a vengeance. Discovering this Elizabeth quickly enlists the help of the love torn Captain Dobi (Nigel Green) in a search for more blood. One night out of desperation she murders a prostitute, unfortunately the Countess discovers only the blood of young pure women will help keep her new youthful appearance.

The woman becomes blood thirsty and soon the bodies start piling up. Eventually the authorities begin to investigate the crimes, making it harder for the countess to obtain precious blood. All the while the strange love triangle with the Countess, Imre, and Dobi grows more and more combustible leaving the viewer anticipating the eventual explosion.

Ingrid Pitt was a classy broad and definitely at the top of her game during the production of this film. While she wasn't in many horror films during this period her few performances in the genre were powerful enough to invoke a massive fanbase. Director Peter Sasdy was no stranger to Hammer horror as he'd previously helmed 1970's Taste the Blood of Dracula and much like that film the direction present here is tight and precise. Countess Dracula is a very enjoyable experience and a lot of that truly does rest on Ingrid Pitt's shoulders.  It's a pity she didn't make more horror pictures though I am grateful for the handful she did star in.  This blu-ray is a definite treat and Hammer afficionados will certainly want this one gracing their collection.

I can only think of a handful of companies that truly go out of their way to insure a the consumer has a near-perfect viewing experience.  Synapse clearly cares about not just the fans but the films they distribute.  A lot of companies have no problem giving a film an untouched HD master which is wonderful. But Synapse has a history of taking things one step further to insure a film is properly restored.  This blu-ray is another fine example of their persistence.  Aside from a few small instances of age wear, I cannot think of one bad thing I could say about this high definition presentation.  The colors are all spot on with natural skin tones and deep blacks.  The grain isn't overwhelming and the movie has a wonderful filmic quality going for it.  The audio is right up there as well with a perfect balance between the score and dialogue.  Kudos Synapse!

Audio Commentary with Ingrid Pitt, Peter Sasdy (director), Jeremy Paul (screenwriter), and Jonathan Sothcott (author) 

Immortal Countess: The Cinematic Life of Ingrid Pitt (10:47 HD) - Pitt wasn't some actress born with a silver spoon in her mouth, believe it or not she spent a portion of her childhood living in a concentration camp. This short featurette sheds some light on Ingrid's covering her hardships and early career before concentrating on her work within the horror genre.

Archival Audio Interview with Ingrid Pitt (08:30 HD) - An older audio interview with Pitt is included on the disc. Various subjects are discussed from sports and horror to Amicus.

Original theatrical trailer (03:07 HD) 

Still Gallery (07:10)

This blu-ray would make a marvelous addition to anyone's collection.  It was previously available courtesy of a MGM Midnite Movies double feature (partnered with The Vampire Lovers) and is well worth the double-dip.  Synapse has lovingly remastered the movie in addition to providing a few great special features.  For those who have yet to see Countess Dracula it's well worth tracking down.

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