Director: Peter Sasdy

U.K.| 1971. COLOUR. 93 MIN.

Despite the title, this entry from Hammer’s late golden period has nothing to do with their series of Dracula pictures. The story is based on the legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a 16th-century Transylvanian noblewoman who bathed in the blood of virgins to preserve her youth. Hammer’s sex queen of the period, Ingrid Pitt is excellent as both the baleful old Countess and the voluptuous young woman. Hungarian-born director Peter Sasdy succeeds in capturing the appalling social implications of the situation, with the aristocracy quite literally preying upon the peasant classes. The Countess’s attitude is encapsulated in the opening sequence when, returning from her husband’s funeral, her carriage runs over and kills a peasant. She doesn’t even blink. Similarly, when convinced of the restorative powers of her servant’s blood, she wastes no time in murdering the girl to obtain it.

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