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Countess Bathory. Countess Dracula is directed by Peter Sasdy and written by Jeremy Paul. It stars Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green, Sandor Eles, Maurice Denham, Patience Collier and Lesley-Anne Down. Out of Hammer Film Productions, music is by Harry Robertson and Eastmancolor cinematography by Kenneth Talbot. Why didn’t they just call it Countess Bathory? Or just Elizabeth Bathory? Film has nothing to do with Dracula or Vampires, and is basically an interpretation of Madame Bathory, who back in olde Hungary killed any number of girls for kicks and a vain belief that bathing in virginal blood would keep her young. It’s this last aspect that Hammer focus on, unfurling a story where the Countess strikes on the secret of eternal youth, and who then promptly has her daughter kidnapped and proceeds to impersonate her. Thus with that she gets to romance a young man, but of course as the bodies start to pile up, and the Countess’ suitor and confidant's begin to get their noses pushed out of joint, things quickly go downhill fast. As a technical production it’s good Hammer fare. Costuming, colour photography, set design and acting performances are perfectly pleasing. Unfortunately it’s all very predictable, and worse still considering the plot points of interest, it’s pretty bloodless, playing out as some sort of period based drama with the odd bit of dastard behaviour thrown in for good measure. Nothing really happens to perk up the story, and sadly the finale is something of a damp squib. The red blooded amongst us can’t help but enjoy the twin lovelies of Pitt and Down, and the wonderful Nigel Green can’t believe his luck as he gets to canoodle with our Ingrid! But all told it’s not very sexy, not very horror and only works as a good period drama if you set expectation at that level. 6/10
Hammer’s Gothic drama/horror based on the infamous Countess Bathory RELEASED IN 1971-1972 and directed by Peter Sasdy, "Countess Dracula" chronicles events in medieval Hungary where the aging Countess Elisabeth (Ingrid Pitt) cruelly reigns with her Steward, Captain Dobi (Nigel Green). She discovers that washing in the blood of maidens makes her youthful and orders her servants to apprehend victims. Pretending to be her daughter, Ilona, the Countess seeks the affections of a young Lieutenant, Imre Toth (Sandor Elès). Maurice Denham plays the wise old scribe of the castle, Master Fabio, while Lesley-Anne Down appears as the real Ilona, held captive by a mute peasant. The real Elizabeth Báthory lived in Čachtice Castle, which was surrounded by a village and crop lands (and still is), bordered by bluffs of the Little Carpathians in Hungary. Her chief servant was into witchcraft and encouraged Bathory in her diabolic endeavors. Patience Collier plays this role in the movie, but she’s not a witch. More than 300 witnesses testified to Bathory’s atrocities with Priests, noblemen and commoners being questioned. Her crimes included cruel beatings, burning of hands, mutilation, biting the flesh off of faces, as wells as limbs and other body parts, freezing to death or starving. Her early targets were serving girls 10-14 years old, the kin of local peasants, who were usually lured to the castle as well-paid servants. She later was said to have apprehended daughters of the lesser nobility, which was the beginning of the end. In those times Hungarian nobles were allowed to reprove their servants by whatever means they saw fit, even death, and were not reprimanded for it, which obviously facilitated Bathory’s offenses. Three of four of her closest servants were executed and she was under house arrest limited to one room the last four years of her life. She died at 54 in 1614. While some argue that she was politically set-up, and that’s always a possibility, there’s just too much documentation verifying her crimes to dismiss them. The incredible number of her victims (650) is probably exaggerated and the bathing-in-blood angle is likely just lore emerging well after her death. The film’s cheesy title is figurative because there’s no vampirism; “Dracula” was a hot item at the time and producers simply hoped to capitalize on the name. Yet there is the supernatural element of becoming young & beautiful again. It’s an engaging theme because most aging women (and men) long to restore the beauty of their prime. Have you ever seen a woman in her late 50s or whatever acting like she’s a college girl on spring break? It’s pathetic. In any case, this is a quasi-historical drama with gothic horror. I love the castle & sets, the costumes and torch-lit hallways. It brings to life the late/post Medieval Age. Some parts are predictable (e.g. the outcome of the closing wedding), but the story is compelling and gives you a good taste of feudal life in central Europe back then. On a side note, Lesley-Anne Down was one of the most beautiful women to walk the earth in the 70s-90s and she was only around 16.5 years-old during shooting. While her screen time is scant in the first two acts, she comes to the fore in the final act and is definitely a highlight. THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour, 33 minutes and was shot in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England. WRITERS: Jeremy Paul (screenplay) and Alexander Paal (story) inspired by Valentine Penrose’s book “The Bloody Countess: Atrocities of Erzsébet Báthory.” GRADE: B+
The Bell Witch Haunting" is a powerful supernatural historic thriller based on terrifying actual events that took place in Robertson County, Tennessee from 1817 to 1821, in which a spirit tormented John Bell and his family, leaving him in a terrifying fight against the vengeful ghost to save his children and his own life. The haunting is the only known case where a spirit actually took credit for killing someone. After visiting the Bells home, Andrew Jackson said, "I vow I would rather fight the entire British Army single handed then face this witch again." Written by Ric White
Based on the true story of '60s thrill-killer Charles Schmidt ("The Pied Piper of Tucson"), Skipper Todd (Robert F. Lyons) is a charismatic 23-year old who charms his way into the lives of high school kids in a small California town. Girls find him attractive and are only too willing to accompany him to a nearby desert area to be his "girl for the night." Not all of them return, however. Featuring Richard Thomas as his loyal hanger-on and a colorful assortment of familiar actors in vivid character roles including Barbara Bel Geddes, Gloria Grahame, Edward Asner, Fay Spain, James Broderick and Michael Conrad.
A bus and a truck are moving towards each other along a two-way traffic highway on a rainy day. At the very beginning we learn that a reckless driver of another car will cause them to collide while trying to pass the bus; we even learn what seats will spell doom for their occupants. The rest of the movie follows two streams of events on the bus and on the truck, getting us to know and like a wide variety of characters, wondering which ones will end up being casualties and holding breath for our favourites. The epilogue brings some more surprises...
A young boy who still wets the bed finds escapism from his abusive mother and his own embarrassment by going running after school.
The recurring protagonists of the movie is an osprey family and a young otter. Through their story, the animals living in the wetlands of the Carpathian Basin and their rarely seen behaviour are presented. Deers, Hungarian grey cattle, asps, catfish, bee-eaters, hooded crows appear in the movie, as well as places like the backwaters of the Tisza River, the Danube and its tributaries, the Hortobágy, the Balaton and the Gemenc Forest. The movie presents one year of the animals living the wetlands and floodplain forests, from winter to next summer. A nature documentary about the lands, fauna and nature-related traditions of Hungary.
A genius and reckless poet and a hard working musician are asked by the CEO of a children literature magazine to write a war song to send children into the battlefield.
Percy Schmeiser, a third-generation farmer, gets sued by a corporate giant for allegedly using their patented seeds. With little resources to fight a legal battle, Percy joins forces with up-and-coming attorney Jackson Weaver and environmental activist Rebecca Salcau for a monumental case that leads all the way to the Supreme Court.
A short animation based on the directors own experience of coming out.
An inside look into the lives of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry straight from experts, socialites and friends intimately connected with the House of Windsor.
A crew of savvy former strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
Yuli is the nickname given to Carlos Acosta by his father, Pedro, who considers him the son of Ogun, an African god and a fighter. As a child Yuli avoids discipline and education, learning from the streets of an impoverished and abandoned Havana. His father, however, has other ideas, and knowing that his son has a natural talent for dance, sends him to the National Ballet School of Cuba. Despite his repeated escapes and initial poor behaviour, the boy is inevitably drawn to the world of dance, and begins to shape his legendary career from a young age, becoming the first black dancer to be cast in some of the most prestigious ballet roles, originally written for white dancers, in companies such as the Houston Ballet or the Royal Ballet in London.