Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blood Countess – review

Director: Lloyd A Simandl

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

More Czechploitation. After discovering this strange little sub-genre with Demon’s Claw we now look at another film by director Lloyd A Simandl. This one is less horror and more the historical biopic with plenty of nudity to give it a “ploitation” label (why the country of origin should be important is currently defeating me, this, at heart, is a good old sexploitation).

In her cell
I said that it is more a historical biopic and so it is. It sets the film in 1611 with Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Andrea Nemcova) waiting to be walled into her room and writing a diary trying to explain events. The date is right, the historic Báthory was arrested in 1610 and held under house arrest until her trial (in abstentia) in January 1611. She was sentenced to be imprisoned, walled up in her rooms, for life and died in 1614.

writing diary
In this she decides to write her diary to show the falsehood of the trial, that she was to be slow executed for the sins of men – mostly her husband (who historically died in 1604) and her cousin the King of Hungary. She seems to protest an innocence and yet we then cut to her first musings and it involves the murder of peasant girls.

fondling the iron maiden
Yes, the sleaze begins. We see girls chained, a girl having her throat slit by Dorothea (Deny Moor) as Elizabeth’s relation (referred to later both as niece and cousin, so I assume cousin is used as in a generic familial term) Nora (Sabine Mallory) fondles an iron maiden and complains that Dorothea used too much hemlock and thus she cannot hear the screams.

in the bath
Elizabeth, meanwhile, is in a bath and being looked after by two hand maidens – one of whom has to strip and get in the bath with her to wash her mistress. The blood, when it comes, is poured through an aperture in the ceiling. This allows a slow trickle that goes in the bathwater and can be caught, in order to wash in it. As such we don’t get a complete blood bath.

Following this Elizabeth – as the diarist – admits to one crime. Killing a noble, in this case Nora but it was because she was a liar and a thief. Long story short, Elizabeth fears that the magic is wearing out too quickly and thus she needs noble rather than common blood. Nora is tasked with getting her a minor noble girl and given money to this effect. She eventually brings a girl but she is no noble, she is a peasant called Anna dressed up and Elizabeth notices this due to rough hands. Subsequently she has Nora killed.

lesbiansim was mandatory
Before that point we get a variety of scenes showing both lesbianism, breast feeding of prisoners (Simandl appears obsessed with this as it appears in both of his films that we have observed) and some sadistic sexual practices that add nothing to the story. They are there only to titillate. The killing of Nora is the end of the film and you wonder at the lack of worthwhile story and exploration of motivation. The film ends like the end of a first chapter so one assumes the story continues in Blood Countess 2. However, from what I can gather that is a prequel to this, rather than a continuation.

Deny Moor as Dorothea
The actual film looks more sumptuous than it should but there are glaring incongruities. It appeared that Elizabeth sported a tattoo on the back of neck, normally hidden by her hair. Nora had highlights in her hair – something that I find unlikely for the seventeenth century. It was also incongruous that these peasant girls would take time to have such pubic neatness (some of the girls are bare and some sport Brazilians). Perhaps I think about such things too much.

just a taste
Elizabeth is no vampire (in an undead sense). She has a treatise on witchcraft (the same book we saw in Demon’s Claw) and she does catch some blood on her tongue at one point. However this is all stylisation and the bottom line is she is a mortal woman who thinks that bathing in blood is the route to eternal youth. Just a shame the film went nowhere slowly, despite the overly dramatic soundtrack, 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Zahir Blue said...

Gotta say, love the word "Czechsploitation."

Taliesin_ttlg said...

It is a fun word! (though, as I mentioned, plain old sexploitation would have fit)

Christine said...

Trash in sumptuous package? Hm, I am interested of this gorgeously-period-dressed-woman-living-in-castle-uses-blood-as-elixir-of-youth-legend, but this does not sound promising.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Christine (hope you don't mind, I deleted the double post) - it wasn't but a more promising film using this story will be posted soon...