Ingrid Pitt in Countess Dracula (1971)

The Clothesless Countess

Whilst taking a bath Countess Elisabeth Ndasdy (Ingrid Pitt) discovers that bathing in the blood of a younger, virgin woman has strange rejuvenating powers which make her appear to be much younger. In fact Elisabeth becomes young enough to pretend to be her own daughter and make a play for Imre Toth (Sandor Els), the young son of her late husband's best friend who has come in to great fortune. But to stay young she needs more blood from young virgins and so relies on her close friend Captain Dobi (Nigel Green) to keep the supply coming. But things take another turn as she upsets Dobi by marrying Toth and then when her daughter Ilona (Lesley-Anne Down) plans to arrive she must find a way of preventing her from coming.

I've said it before, I genuinely believe that the Hammer horror movies work best for those who saw them when they first came out and watched now for the first time are quite difficult to appreciate. Now I am in the latter group as I didn't consciously watch my first Hammer horror movie till the early 90s and even then I found the style of these movies too much of a difference to really enjoy. But I persevere with them and find myself at the much loved "Countess Dracula" although I am not sure why it is that loved.

Lesley-Anne Down in Countess Dracula (1971)

Now let me put this simply, "Countess Dracula" doesn't feature a Dracula figure just an old Countess who for some reason becomes young again by bathing in the blood of a virgin. Her aged lover becomes jealous when she carries on with a younger man and marries him whilst the potential arrival of her daughter provides a threat to the charade which the Countess has going on. That is it and whilst we have the frequent murders of young women to provide blood there is very little horror in this movie or any real thrills either.

Actually it all depends on what you call thrills because "Countess Dracula" stars the attractive Ingrid Pitt who disrobes and we have a few scenes of topless women. Maybe that is what appealed to the audiences back in 1971 and lead to many cherishing this Hammer movie as other than Pitt the only notable performance comes from Nigel Green who manages to convey an almost thespian quality to the character of Captain Dobi.

What this all boils do is that like so many of the Hammer movies "Countess Dracula" left me unmoved as it is another movie which probably was effective back in the early 70s but now comes up short on so much especially when it comes to horror.