Loosely based on the legend of Elizabeth Bathory, the baroness of blood, this later Hammer entry finds the withered old Countess Elisabeth (Ingrid Pitt) discovering that her youth and beauty could be returned to her by bathing in the blood of virginal young girls. This discovery leads to several disappearances as suspicions grow in the township, while the Countess uses her new found looks to charm a young soldier. The rich cinematography and production values each uphold the standard traditions of the studio from its early days, with astounding sets and elaborate costuming that make this a beautiful and believable period piece. Pitt's transformation from the old crone goes far beyond just her youthful appearance, as she clearly establishes two completely separate personalities as the ruthless Countess and her exuberant younger self. Most of the other performances play well to the Hungarian setting and time, with only a few comically over the top exceptions. Nigel Green steals every scene as the overlooked Captain Dobi, with an authoritative on screen presence. In truth, the Horror of the picture is downplayed for what seems more like a historical drama, but there are plenty of splashes of virgin's blood to satiate both the classic Gothic fans and the vampire fans that are likely to find the title misleading.
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