Countess Dracula features Ingrid Pitt as a fictionalized version of Countess ElizabethBathory, who slaughtered hundreds of women to bathe in their blood. Here the body count is notthat high, but the bloodbaths actually work: the aged countess becomes young again, andromances a young soldier while pretending to be her own daughter. Unfortunately, old age keepspouncing back on her without notice. The Vampire Lovers (which also stars PeterCushing) is based on J. …heridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, one of the classics of 19th-Centuryvampire fiction. Here Pitt is Carmilla, a young woman taken into a household after she hasapparently suffered a serious accident. Once ensconced in everyone’s affections, she mostnotably vampirises the daughter of the house. Far from being Christopher Lee’s raveningDracula, however, Pitt’s Carmilla is a rather tragic figure, genuinely in love with her victim. Bothmovies are prime gothic horror, still holding up well today. Countess Dracula has thestructure of a fairy tale, while The Vampire Lovers is actually quite faithful to its sourcematerial.
Mono sound (no stereo remixes here), but very clean mono. There is no hiss or otherbackground noise to deal with, and the dialogue doesn’t buzz or otherwise distort. The films areinexpensive productions from 1970, so don’t expect miracles. Still, no real complaints here.
Countess Dracula is in 1.66:1 widescreen, while The Vampire Lovers is in1.85:1 anamorphic. The prints are in terrific shape, with no speckling. There is the occasionalslightly grainy shot, and the sharpness isn’t that of a new release, but nor would one expect itto be. The colours are good, with strong contrasts and flesh tones, though there is a bit moremurkiness than I would like. The blacks are very deep.
Wonderful commentaries are on off here. Countess Dracula has a talk by Ingrid Pitt,director Peter Sasdy and screenwriter Jeremy Paul. The Vampire Lovers has Pitt, directorRoy Ward Baker and screenwriter Tudor Gates to talk about it. Both are excellent round tables –the comments are thoughtful and really open up the world of Hammer studios. They aren’t veryscene-specific, but that’s often because of extremely interesting digressions. Theatrical trailersare also provided on both sides of the disc, and The Vampire Lovers also features a photmontage with a scored reading by Pitt of passages from Carmilla. The menus arebasic.
Two great movies, each with a sharp commentary, and at a bargain price. Life is good.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Theatrical Trailers
- Excerpts from Carmilla read by Ingrid Pitt