Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy (Ingrid Pitt) has recently become a widow. The aging countess is evil inside as well as outside. When a serving girl prepares her bath too hot, the Countess hits her. Blood from the girl splashes onto the Countess. When she wipes it away she sees that the skin underneath has become soft and supple. Realizing that the girl’s blood is an elixir she kills the girl and bathes in her blood. The countess becomes young and beautiful again.
The countess’s daughter Ilona (Lesley-Anne Down) is returning from school. The Countess Elisabeth has her kidnapped and hidden in the woods. The countess pretends that she is her daughter. She begins having an affair with a young soldier, Lieutenant Imre Toth (Sandor Eles).
For many years the Countess had been having an affair with the Steward of the castle, Captain Dobi (Nigel Green). Unfortunately the blood elixir has a temporary effect. When it wears off the Countess looks even older than she did before. The Countess enlists Dobi and her nurse Julie (Patience Collier) in her need for sacrifices.
The castle historian Master Fabio (Maurice Denham) is suspicious from the start. When Elisabeth kills a prostitute she finds that the girl’s blood does not restore her youth. Dobi has a run-in with Fabio about a book on blood sacrifices and what it entails. To save his own life Fabio tells the Countess that the sacrifice must be a virgin.
Fabio secretly tries to tell Elisabeth’s young lover the truth but is killed by Dobi. When confronted by Toth, Dobi is enraged and shows Toth the real Elisabeth covered in the blood of her latest virgin victim. Toth is disgusted. Elisabeth lies and tells Toth that he is the one that killed the prostitute when he was drunk and blackmails him to get him to marry her. By now there are too many secrets and too many crimes for everything to stay quiet. Especially when the castle servants find a pile of dead naked virgins behind the wine barrels in the wine cellar.
“Countess Dracula” was released in 1971 and was directed by Peter Sasdy. The movie is a British film produced by Hammer Studios. It is one of two Hammer Dracula titled films that did not feature Christopher Lee, the other being "Brides of Dracula" 1960. There is more going on here than in a dozen soap operas. For some the movie may seem slow and at times it sort of is but the plot is quite intricate. Many thought that what was missing was Terence Fisher’s flair. Perhaps the film would have had more depth with him directing but it’s still worthy of the Hammer name. The sets are still lavish, the acting solid. Nigel Green was fabulous as the tortured ex-lover Dobi. One moment doing whatever Elisabeth asked and the next sabotaging her plans out of jealousy. She basically made him what he was, a two-sided coin, love on one side, hate on the other.
Ingrid Pitt does an amazing job of handling the two roles as both the elderly Elisabeth and the young pretend Ilona. The character changes and the lengths she must go through to get what she wants makes it no surprise that the Countess ends up quite insane and Pitt reflects that quite well. Elisabeth is basically bipolar, manic when she is young looking and depressed to the point of violence when the beauty wears off. Two sides of her own coin.
The film is loosely based on the story of Countess Elisabeth Bathory, the real “Countess Dracula”. Bathory was a Hungarian noblewoman. She lived from 1560 to 1614. She was accused, along with a few accomplices, of torturing and killing hundreds of young women. The exact number is unknown. It was later that the rumor of her bathing in the blood of virgins came about. Whether she did or not is up for debate.
It is also said that she drank the blood of her victims. I don’t know if that is really true. If fact I heartily doubt it since the drinking of blood is toxic to the human digestive system. You might be able to get away with a couple teaspoons but more than that and you risk a build-up of iron in the body. That can cause an illness called haemochromatosis. The illness can cause a wide variety of diseases and problems, including liver damage, buildup of fluid in the lungs, dehydration, low blood pressure, and nervous disorders. So unless her blood drinking was quite moderate I doubt it happened. The serial killing I believe, everything else I question.