"My hat is off to the folks at MGM/UA for this fabulous pair-of films, that is, on this DVD. Luscious, Polish-born Ingrid Pitt scored a triple home run in 1970, appearing in 3 entertaining horror films, "The Vampire Lovers", "Countess Dracula", and "The House That Dripped Blood". Ms. Pitt had lived through real-life horror, having been born in a Nazi concentration camp. Hammer executive James Carreras was charmed by Ms. Pitt (they met at a dinner party), and cast her as Carmilla in "The Vampire Lovers", based on Sheridan leFanu's famed vampire novella. To be brief, the story is about Countess Mircalla Karnstein, (she uses her name as an anagram, i.e. Marcilla and Carmilla),undead for 250 years, who ingratiates herself into various households, and preys upon the young daughters of her hosts. The film, directed by Roy Ward Baker, follows the book fairly closely, though Ms. Pitt's Carmilla is not the morose, wan girl as depicted by leFanu. Pitt's Carmilla is a worldly, enticing, and very sexy woman. She is also a voracious predator, and does not discriminate. Men and women, especially women, are all fair game to her! The film plays up the lesbian angle of the story, and Ms. Pitt's gorgeous figure is displayed to great advantage. Her husky, "continental" accent and style make a great contrast to the "English roses" of Madeline Smith and Pippa Steel. Hammer great Peter Cushing lends his usual fine presence to the film, as well as a young Jon Finch, Ferdy Mane, Kate O'Mara, and Dawn Addams as "The Countess", working a hairdo that would fit right in with the B52s! My only real gripe about this film is the women's hairdos, which date the film "big time". The women look like escapees from "Love American Style", with the exception of O'Mara's accurate Regency-style hairdo. The sound and picture quality are superb, and Harry Robinson's musical score is a winner. Some purists may balk that the film does not live up to leFanu;s book, but in my opinion, it comes pretty darned close! This is a good-looking, shocking film. The other film on this DVD is the much-maligned "Countess Dracula", based on the exploits of real-life 17th century Hungarian countess Elisabeth Bathory. Bathory had a unique beauty treatment-she bathed in the blood of virgins, in the belief that it kept her young and beautiful. Some 600 girls disappeared from neighboring villages before Ms. Bathory was finally "put away". In this film, the premise is taken a little further, ala "The Leech Woman". Elisabeth's "beauty baths" DO work, but like collagen and Botox, their effect is only temporary, and when they wear off, she becomes uglier, leading to a very bad habit! Ms. Pitt is a lot of fun to watch, tho for some strange reason, her voice was dubbed by another actress. Virile Nigel Green plays Elisabeth's cast-off middle-aged lover Captain Dobi, Sandor Eles plays her boy-toy Imre Toth, and a very young Lesley-Anne Down plays her daughter, Ilona. The sets, costumes, and music are great, and the film does have a real flavor to it, no doubt helped by the fact that its director, Peter Sasdy, is Hungarian, as well as co-star Sandor Eles, and screenwriter Alexander Paal. The picture and sound quality are excellent as well. There are some wonderful extras on the DVD as well, such as an audio commentary by Ms. Pitt, and excerpts from "Carmilla" read by her as well, accompanying a terrific photo gallery. And you can't beat the price! Ingrid Pitt in "Countess Dracula" and "The Vampire Lovers". What a pair!"
BLOODY, Bathtime FUN With Ingrid Pitt!!!
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 02/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being a self described Hammer fan, I must say that these two films are top notch later Hammer productions. Countess Dracula really doesn't have anything to do with DRACULA or VAMPIRES as an aging noblewoman finds the secret to eternal youth by bathing in the blood drained from virgins in the noblewoman's kingdom. No FANGS, no crosses, no stakes or drinking of blood- just bloody bathtime fun with Ingrid Pitt! The Vampire Lovers film (better of the two) with REAL vampire/dracula references and lots of weird lesbianism goin' on between Ingrid Pitt & the other young, nubile, (& unfortunate) women victims in the film. I would definitely recommend both films to anyone who likes classic horror and/or vampire tales..."
Excellent in every way!!!!
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | 09/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MGM has done an amazing job of remastering these great films from 1970. These two films belong to the era when Hammer Films was trying to update their image by featuring nudity and more violence in their films. Both of them star sexy, enigmatic Ingrid Pitt. "Vampire Lovers" is the superior movie with good suspense sequences, very sexy scenes with Ingrid and Madeline Smith and a great cameo by the wonderful Peter Cushing. The transfer on this movies is amazing. It has never looked so good. It also restores a deleted scene cut by AIP that features full frontal nudity by Ingrid Pitt.
"Countess Dracula" is also a good Hammer Film. It is loosely based on the legendary Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory. It is less explicit both in terms of violence and nudity. It could easily carry a PG-13 rating today. It's worth seeing for some great supporting actors including a very young Leslie Ann-Down. The sets are very lavish for Hammer standards since they were left over from "Anne of a Thousand Days".
The DVD features some very interesting commentaries by directors and scrrenwriters. I'm usually bored by these commentaries, but I wasn't by the ones here.
This DVD is a true Hammer lover's dream and for such a low price!!!!!! Thank you, MGM!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Double Dose of Ingrid Pitt
Joshua Koppel | Chicago, IL United States | 10/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two wonderful Hammer films with a vampire theme.Countess Dracula is not really about a vampire, but a retelling of Countess Bathory and the legend that she killed virgins so that she could bathe in their blood. In this story, the Countess accidently discovers the rejuvenating powers of blood. As she switches between crone and beauty, she must deal with court intrigue, lovers, suspicions and loyalty. Although the box claims this movie is rated PG, there is plenty of nudity.The Vampire Lovers is a retelling of Sheridan Le Fanu's classic lesbian vampire tale Carmilla. Ingrid Pitt plays a vampire who keeps getting invited to stay at estates where she can prey on young daughters. Nicely told but with a few gaps in the story. We find out Carmilla's origin but who are her mother and the gentleman in black? Other than these two lapses, the rest of the story is beautifully done and I loved seeing how modern science slowly step out of the way of the occult.Two nicely-done thrillers with beautiful sets and costumes (these are Hammer films after all) as well as decent casting. Good viewing fare for vampire film fans."
Contess Dracula/The Vampire Lovers
Don | Australia | 09/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These two long awaited MGM titles come to DVD at last in a nicely rendered double bill that should please most Hammer Horror fans. The first, 'Countess Dracula' gives us Ingrid Pitt in her second starring role for Hammer as Countess Erzebet Bathory an Hungarian noblewoman with a bent for bathing in virgins blood. Based loosely on Valentine Penrose's rather prosaic book The Bloody Countess, the film is lush to look at (aparently benefitting from sets left over from Anne of a Thousand Days)and competently acted. Sadly it is the weaker of the two, suffering from a draggy script and some inappropriate overdubbing. One would have thought that Ms Pitt's accent would have been just right for the character but instead we are tortured with the breathy and unsubtle vocals of an insipid teenage girl. It is a credit to Ms Pitt that this post production tampering doesn't sink her performance into self parody. The commentary is enlightening and I have to agree with Ms Pitt- the film could have been much more than the sum of its parts. Ultimately the script reduces itself to the level of a dull sex driven pulp romance masquerading as an historical tract and would have been far more interesting had it chosen instead to explore The Bloody Countess' recorded atrocities. It is also horribly painful to hear Peter Sasdy shoot Ms Pitt down in the final discussion near the closing credits. Much better and what should be the real A side of this DVD is 'The Vampire Lovers', made earlier the same year and co-financed by American International. This film gives us Ingrid Pitt in her seminal performance as the vampire Carmilla, invading the households of the local gentry to decimate their daughters and revenge the execution of her undead relatives at the hand of Joachim von Hartog. Like all Hammer films this one is beautifully photographed and solidly acted by the likes of George Cole, Ferdy Mayne and Peter Cushing in a cameo as the uncle of an early victim. Also boasting a fine musical score and gorgeous set dressings the film is driven by its fatalistic, if unconventional love story, the cause of much controversy at the time of its release. If the film is slow paced then this works in its favour, adhering faithfully to its source material, Joseph Sheridan le Fanu's 1871 tale Carmilla. The commentary tells us little that we didn't already know about the film; Ms Pitt sounding dreadfully ill and barely able to catch a breath. Having suffered the censors scissors for many years MGM have reinserted the previously edited full frontal hip bath scene but strangely have not restored Kirsten Betts' decapitation in the opening sequence. As Hammer Horror is a neglected cultural institution in its homeland, it would be nice if one day an English distibutor took it upon themselves to rectify this rather odd state of affairs and track down an uncut print. Much has been said about the sexual aspect of this film, that the protagonist is a lesbian and the imagery is the stuff of girlie magazines, but though 'The Vampire Lovers' is admittedly very much a product of its time it has managed to transcend its exploitative origins to become what we see today (thirty years on), a dreamlike gothic masterpiece that still weaves its magic. There is much to be cherished here."