The Best Movie Critic + review

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Watch THIS Instantly: Countess Dracula

Justin here with some classic Hammer Horror available on Netflix Watch Instantly, Countess Dracula.

I've said in the past that I don't really like most vampire movies. That's because I think there are very few vampire movies that effectively capture the combination power fantasy and sexual allegory effectively or with the respect such serious themes deserve. Though Countess Dracula is set in Victorian Europe, it is one of the most modern “vampire” movie I've seen. You see, the Countess isn't really related to Dracula at all, she has a different name, she doesn't have fangs, she can't turn into a bat, and she isn't undead. She does however discover that drinking the blood of virgins keeps her young.

The movie starts off with the Countess (played very well by Ingrid Pitt) at her husband's funeral. Soon after the estate is divided up, Lieutenant Toth, a young soldier receives the Count's stables and an adjoining property and Captain Dobi, a friend and military compatriot gets snubbed receiving only a couple suits of armor. He however, starts making moves on the Countess. The Countess is rather detached from all this and broods about being alone. Soon, she accidentally discovers that the blood of young virgins makes her appear to be young and comely again. The perfect cover arises as her daughter is due to show up at the castle shortly. The countess has her daughter detained and poses as her while young women from the village begin to disappear.

Meanwhile, the Countess begins a relationship with Lieutenant Toth as her younger self. She is aided in her deception by her closest servants and Count Dobi who begrudgingly helps her even though he loves her as she is. Soon enough the weird love triangle between the young Toth, the Countess and Captain Dobi is exposed and all manner of uncomfortable weirdness start bubbling up to the surface. The script by Jeremy Paul is true to Victorian sensibilities with regard to the delicate way that sexuality is discussed, but it's that repression that makes this movie kind of sexy and very troubling. This is the delicate balance that Twilight tries to achieve but can never pull off.

Watching this, I was reminded of all those awful reality shows on Bravo. This movie could have been called Countess Cougar or The Real Housewives of Transylvania. I can't speak to the peculiar practices of women trying to stay forever young back in 197X or 167X, but with a few tweaks, this could have been a Halloween episode of Nip/Tuck. The Countess is so obsessed with appearing young at any cost that she doesn’t care who suffers for it. No one dare say anything to her because she's the count and she could have you killed. The virgin blood may as well be botox. Captain Dobi the older man who loves her says he doesn't care about her looks but is complacent in helping her murder because he loves her. This could be read as the adoring husband who funds plastic surgery because he loves his wife so much and wants her to be happy.

Director Peter Sasdy does a fantastic job working with a limited budget. The performances are all very competent, and the movie is beautifully shot on Eastman color film. The exteriors in the British country side are a beautiful contrast to the warm interiors of the Countess' castle. I went into this movie expecting a schlocky exploitation flick with some blood, skin, and camp. What I got though was a challenging and compelling movie that really made me think – that's probably the biggest compliment I can pay this great movie.

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