Countess Dracula (1971)

Director: Peter Sasdy

Starring: Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green, Sandor Eles

Release date: January 31(UK). Oh, hello, a foray into the horror genre. I haven’t got many of these in the series. This one doesn’t exactly sparkle in the memory. Let’s do it. May contain virgins and spoilers…

Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy (pronounced Nodo-shdee, I think), safe to say, isn’t aging like a fine wine. She’s a bitter, vindictive bitch lusting after a young soldier, Imre Toth (pronounced Tote, like the brolly makers…), a friend and comrade of her late husband. He arrives at the Nadasdy castle to witness the reading of old hubby’s last will and testament only to discover he has inherited the renowned stables and all the horses. Result! Later, when a servant girl ‘accidentally’ stabs herself in the face, the bloodied Countess is delighted to find that a drop of the old red stuff miraculously transforms her into a Decepticon. Nah, pulling yer leg. What really happens is she regains her youth and it puts her in a splendid position to woo the dashing Toth. And when it wears off, well, let’s just say it’s not a favourable time to be a virgin in Hungary…

Somebody hasn't had her 3 Shredded Wheat this morning...

This, my second screening of Countess Dracula, did not significantly improve the film’s profile; I thought it was pathetic first time around and this view is now thoroughly tarmacadamed Wicker Man-style under a motorway bypass. What was Hammer thinking? Nothing happens. I could barely stay the fuck awake. Considering the source material you might readily expect some spectacular blood-spuming at the very, very least. Cast those expectations asunder and despair. Director Peter Sasdy (pronounced Shoddy, perhaps) has gone for an all out costume drama and slathered on more soap than you’ll find in a Palmolive factory… Actually, I’ve just had a great idea, kind of a spin-off – Downton Dracula – give me a call, let’s do lunch. Anyhow, the virgin murdering itself is thin on the ground and unpardonably cursory. While flashes of boob are fairly plentiful (that’ll be living boob and dead boob), the flesh flashing does not liven up the limpid action one iota. And I’ve got to find something to discuss in amongst this tripe? Holy flat baps, Batman. Gimme Twins Of Evil any day of the week.

... and 3 Shredded Virgins later - voila!

Why is this movie called Countess Dracula? She’s a Countess; I can dig that. Is she Dracula? Is she fuck. Not a fucking fang in sight. The villagers also refer to her as “devil woman”. Here’s an idea; call the film Devil Woman. I know, she’s not the Devil either, so who cares. If it was up to me, I’d have gone with The Blood Countess, but what do I know. Why does virgin blood have this effect on her? Is it a curse, something from her past? Elisabeth doesn’t appear to be special in any way. She gets some blood on her by chance (well, not by chance as such, she was getting rough with the serving wench) and – hey presto! – young, voluptuous Ingrid steps forth. Some back story wouldn’t do any harm here, maybe a legend in her family dating back centuries. Master Fabio (Maurice Denham – he was briefly in Some Girls Do for another B/Day Series connection), the castle historian does a little investigating in the library (all the books were bequeathed to him in the will) and it seems the answers are contained in a volume entitled The Human Body; the chapter headed ‘Blood Sacrifice’. Are we to accept then that this temporary de-aging effect just happens and there’s no evilness lurking in Liz’s past? Anyone can do it? It’s not enough, not for me.

If you can't fight, wear a big hat

So then, the story consists of wet Toth (Sandor Eles) falling for ‘Ilona’. See, the invigorated Dracu-less is parading around imitating her own 19 year-old daughter while the poor lamb herself (played by the lovely Lesley-Anne Down) has been waylaid in the woods and held captive by a mute simpleton. Only Fabio seems to notice that ‘Ilona’ looks a rather mature 19. In probably the most entertaining sequence, the virgin juice wears off while Elisabeth is getting to grips with Toth causing a set of blue balls on his part and a hysterical episode on hers, fleeing before he can catch a glimpse of Her Most Warty Hagness. Thankfully, Liz’s maid Julie (Patience Collier) cases the village in search of another chaste young lady for the Countess to dine on while Toth blissfully ponces around in a very big hat, all the while being set up by the jealous Captain Dobi (Nigel Green) who wants Elisabeth for himself. And he actually wants old Liz… at least until the reverse-transformations render her more and more unsightly. Oh yes, for there be a debilitating price for every Rhesus Radox she dunks herself in. Better off twatting Zulus, Nigel.

Those are some fine whiskers, Nigel

The story is based on Ersebet Bathory, a Hungarian Countess (the ‘Blood Countess’ herself) who allegedly did indeed go around slaughtering virgin girls in order to retain her youth (a tale contested by some historians). I was hoping to see a naked Ingrid lounging in a bath full of blood but it never happens. Sasdy’s keepin’ it real, so we just get the pneumatic Pitt dabbing herself down with a giant sponge. Humorously, she contrives to, erm, drop said sponge at a most inopportune moment – not ‘gosh, I must first fetch myself a gown while my ample bosoms are handily secreted from view’; but, ‘what is this sponge doing in my hands, I must discard it at once… oops, may I introduce you to my tits…’ Countess Dracula plays out as a period piece when really it should be over-the-top Gothic horror. It’s got the kind of production values you would expect from Hammer but there’s a laziness to proceedings (same bit of castle exterior repeated; same interior passageway repeated…), despite kitting the cast out with costumes worn in many a BBC historical drama and featuring sets built for the film Anne Of A Thousand Days.

Not the sort of nudity one was hoping for...

Dull. Dull as ditch water. Ingrid certainly looks the part, sports a fantastic pair of whammers and puts in a decent performance. There’s not much fun to be had watching Sandor Eles snuffling around her cleavage though. Pitt’s dialogue, I believe, has been dubbed by another actress and she wasn’t very happy with Sasdy about that. Nigel Green decides he’s going to wring everything he can from the lacklustre script. I wanted Dobi to eviscerate Toth on every level; he’s all right, our Nige. There’s probably a class distinction subtext going on but I don’t think it plays all that loudly to make much of a significant impression. Beyond that, there’s nothing to recommend here.

Don’t be fooled by the vampiric connotation of the title. Liz Nadasdy isn’t Dracula’s wife. This is Upstairs Downstairs, but with a mad bint murdering virgins. And it’s hogwash.




Oh, to be Ingrid's giant sponge...


 Countess Dracula gets a miserable 1 Hungarian Goulash out of 5.




Cheers, folk.

ThereWolf, February 2012

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About ThereWolf

I only come out at night... mostly...

21 responses to “Countess Dracula (1971)”

  1. ThereWolf says :

    Supposed to post this yesterday. No internet connection. I’m supposed to have 24 mbps (whatever that is) – only ever get 11. I had 1 yesterday. Fuckin 1. I’ve heard some parts of the country get 100 mbps…

    I’ve steamed into AOL once already, can’t be arsed doing it again… Taking the fuckin piss.

    What do you lot get in the USA? 500 mbps. A thousand? A million?

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      dude I’m in the 7th century and we get like, at minimum, 50 mbps semi reliably

      good review.

    • Droid says :

      Depends on a lot of things actually. Signing up for a service that provides you “up to 100mbps” is pointless if the maximum you can get is 10mbps. It all depends on how far you are from the exchange (the farther you are, the slower the speed), the wiring in your house, and of course the actual service provider. Jarv is right in that BT throttle the speed at peak times. Virgin does this a lot apparently, so the word is that it’s mostly pointless to pay for their 50mbps package because it’s throttled so much. Sky don’t regulate the service at all, according to their fine print.

      I’ve looked at this because I’m moving soon and interwebs is the main service I care about getting right.

      • Jarv says :

        A mate of mine works high up in BT and he says that it’s embarrassing- they promise such and such, and then throttle.

      • ThereWolf says :

        Don’t know what I originally signed up for – ‘me want broadband’ was all I said, didn’t look a the numbers. But then recently AOL informed me I was movin’ on up to 24mbps – as thanks for being a lovely customer. I rarely see anything over 11.

        You might be onto something with the wiring – it’s fairly old. But I was thinking of changing to Virgin (ironic) coz there’s an exchange directly over the road! Not much point if the wiring is fucked though.

        I didn’t know about ‘throttling’. That’s a disgrace.

  2. Continentalop says :

    Man, I remember liking this movie a lot as a kid. I haven’t seen it in over 2 decades, but I was hoping it would stand up the test of time. Now I’m afraid of seeing it again (for the wrong reasons).

    The title Countess Dracula is just as much false advertising as Hammer’s Brides of Dracula.

    • Jarv says :

      I remember liking this as well, but Wolf’s review has scared me off it too.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Conti, Jarv… don’t be put off, it’s only what my addled brain thinks. Remember, I watched this straight after ‘The Wild Bunch’…

      I’ve now had a look at several critic reviews and they don’t think it’s as bad as I do; one even goes so far as to call ‘Countess Dracula’ a classic!

      He’s wrong. It’s simply not good enough.

  3. Droid says :

    This sounds… terrible. I will definitely not be seeking this one out.

    Good work Wolf.

    • Jarv says :

      I honestly remembered enjoying it. Must have been going nuts. It’s not as good as things like Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Good job Wolf, as always. I last saw this as a child on chiller theater. I really do not recall if i liked it other than it promised some naked or near naked women and that was good enough for me!

        Nigel starred in my favorite Fu Manchi flick along with Christopher Lee, so I cant hate on him

      • ThereWolf says :

        Now you’re talking, Jarv… ‘Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde’ is terrible, yet wonderful, especially when Sister Hyde Beswick starts fondling her own tits – the Jekyll inside is thinking, ‘hoo boy, ring the bells, I’ve got juggs…’

      • ThereWolf says :

        Cheers, TKD.

        Needs more nekkidness – and more Nigel.

        And probably giant robots, a tiger in a hat & Brad Pitt in a tree with dinosaurs.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Thanks, R2.

      It’s piffle. Watch ‘Twins Of Evil’ instead.

  4. The Thorn says :

    It’s not great, but I think it has its moments. But you have to like these low-budget Hammer and American International Pictures productions – they have a flavour all their own.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Thank you, Mr Thorn.

      It does, but those moments are few. Pitt’s good, Nigel’s good – when they’re on screen together the script starts to work.

      I genuinely love old Hammer and I genuinely hoped my memory of the Countess was way off. Sadly, ‘not great’ is the verdict. I do concede that giving it ‘1’ might have been a touch knee-jerk…

  5. ThereWolf says :

    I’ve noticed, now I’ve read a few reviews of this myself for comparison, that the Countess is being referred to as ‘Nodosheen’.

    I watched a version that featured foreign language subtitles and her name appears on screen as ‘Nadasdy’. That’s how I got the name – don’t know where everyone else is getting ‘Nodosheen’ from.

    Unless they’re listening to the pronunciation in the film and doing a phonetic thing – coz I heard it as ‘Nodo-shdee’.

  6. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Never seen this, but it sounds like the worst kind…dull.

    And man, what a steep drop in quality, Wild Bunch, then this. It just amplifies everything bad about it.

    • ThereWolf says :

      That’s the thing, Pillow – I’m still asking myself if my review was coloured by watching ‘The Wild Bunch’. Was I too harsh? I don’t think so.

      I got the films late so then I was rushing to get them watched so I could crank out a review. I should’ve waited at least a day before watching this…

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