Midnite Movies Double Feature - Countess Dracula/Vampire Lovers
Countess Dracula -
Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green
The Vampire Lovers - Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, George Cole
Directed By:
Countess Dracula - Peter Sasdy
The Vampire Lovers - Roy Ward Baker

Hammer Films hold a certain place in the history of horror in movies. Starring some well known names, like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Ingrid Pitt, these films featured a lot of horror themes, largely vampires and other blood-fiends. They also featured a lot of topless women and lots of people getting killed. While the production values may have been lightweight and the script a bit cheesy at times, the movies were always acted well.

This DVD that came out in 2003 is a double feature with one movie on each side of the dual-sided DVD. Each film comes in widescreen with optional audio commentary and the original theatrical trailers. Despite the age of the films, the DVD transfer is actually pretty good though the audio could be better. While not as crisp as some of the higher-end flicks, both films still look pretty good.

Countess Dracula stars Ingrid Pitt as the dark countess who bathes in the blood of virgins to regain the beauty of her youth. Based loosely on the historical accounts of Hungarian Countess Elisabeth Bathory, the story tells a twisting tale as the countess pretends to be her own daughter so she can marry the young gentleman that had recently entered her life. But, to keep up this charade, she must continue murdering young virgins to keep her looks. Things come to a head when her own daughter is brought before her as a potential victim an the day of her wedding. While most of this film works well and weaves a thrilling tale, there are bits of the story that could have just been cut out. The whole portion of the film where the dumb-as-dirt daughter who is held captive by the even dumber minion is laughable, like a badly delivered comedy skit.

The Vampire Lovers is a rarity for vampire literature fans - a movie based on Joseph Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla tale. Unlike Dracula, this tale hasn't seen much time on the silver screen. In this version, Ingrid Pitt plays as the vampire who works her way into local families to drain the lifeblood from their young daughters. This, of course, brings out the need to kill her and her vampire brood. For literature-to-film purists, the movie does take some liberties, but manages to pull the heart of the story and most of the details off well.

When it comes to production values, the movies do well on their own. Sets and costumes look pretty good without being overly lavish. The acting is actually pretty sharp, even if it does manage to be hampered some by the script and even some pretty standard direction. Some of the touches, like the really cheesy-looking blood aren't so great, but the strength of the stories will keep you entranced.

If you're a big fan of Hammer Films or vampire flicks, go out and find this DVD whenever you get the chance. Both films are done well and are entertaining despite the low production values. It's a shame there isn't more in the way of extras, but two movies for the price of one more than makes up for it.

- - Vane

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