review for Countess Dracula on AllMovie

Countess Dracula (1972)
by Donald Guarisco review

This is one of the more underrated films from the latter days of the Hammer Films dynasty. Countess Dracula is often unfairly viewed by fans and critics as a poor relation to The Vampire Lovers but it's an effective little chiller in its own right. Jeremy Paul's script plays fast-and-loose with the facts of the real-life case that inspired this story but it delivers a well-modulated mix of chills and sauciness at a fast pace. It also uses its 'royals-victimize-the-peasants' storyline to make some surprising and effective commentary on the vicious-cycle mentality of the English class system. The heroes are a bit colorless but Countess Dracula makes up for this flaw with some delightful villains: Ingrid Pitt tears into the lead role with melodramatic vigor, creating a character who can be seductive, pathetic and terrifying all in the same scene, and Nigel Green is appropriately imposing (and sardonically witty) as her fearsome royal accomplice. Best of all, Countess Dracula boasts stylish direction from Peter Sasdy, who stages the film's melodramatic twists and turns with grisly flair. Along the way, he creates some genuinely chilling setpieces, including a creepy moment where Countess Bathory tricks and kills a gypsy girl and the film's macabre wedding day finale. In the end, Countess Dracula's mix of campiness and grue is not for all tastes but fans of gothic soap operas will find plenty to enjoy here.