Countess Dracula (3 stars)

(18) 93min (Network DVD retail)


Having sunk her fangs into the heaving flesh of Kate O’Mara and other voluptuous beauties in the 1970 Hammer hit The Vampire Lovers, Polish scream queen Ingrid Pitt was immediately cast in another softcore horror. Drafted in to replace Diana Rigg (who turned down the role), Pitt plays a character based on the 16th century Hungarian noblewoman Elizabeth Bathory, who supposedly murdered upwards of 600 virgin girls and bathed in their blood in order to preserve her beauty (a legend which allegedly inspired Bram Stoker).

Directed by Hammer hack Peter Sasdy (himself of Hungarian origin), working from a messy script based on the book by the wonderfully monickered Valentine Penrose, Countess Dracula is a pretty anaemic offering. Still, Pinewood Studios and its technicians do a sterling job of recreating medieval Europe, and it’s good to see British stalwarts Nigel Green, Maurice Denham and Peter Jeffrey as well as a young Lesley-Anne Down. Extras include a few making of docs and, most interestingly, a commentary by Pitt, whose dialogue was, notoriously, dubbed.

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