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Ceremonia Sangrienta

The Legend of Blood Castle
Le Vergini Cavalcano la Morte / The Female Butcher / The Bloody Countess / Countess Dracula / Bloody Ceremony / Blood Castle

Spain/Italy 1973
produced by
José María González Sinde for Luis Film, X Films
directed by Jorge Grau
starring Lucia Bosé, Espartaco Santoni, Ewa Aulin, Ana Farra, Silvano Tranquilli, Lola Gaos, Enrique Vivó, María Vico, Ángel Menéndez, Adolfo Thous, Ismael García Romen, Raquel Ortuno, María Dolores Tovar, Franca Grey, Ghika, Miguel Bunuel, Fabián Conde, Estanis González, Antonio Puga, Francisco Agostín, Andonio De Mossul, Rafael Vaquero, Roberto Daniel, Ángel Rodal, Juan José Otegui, Mari Paz Ballesteros, Sergio Alberti, Sofía Nogueiras, Kino Pueyo, Fernando De Bran, Rafael Frías
story by jorge Grau, screenplay by Jorge Grau, Sandro Continenza, Juan Tébar, music by Carlo Savina

Elizabeth Bathory

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Countess Erzsebet Bathory (Lucia Bosé) is unhappy: She is getting older, her husband count Karl (Espartaco Santoni) has lost interest in her, and what's worse, he has been looking for sexual favours elsewhere, especially with Marina (Ewa Aulin), a local innkeeper's daughter. Then one day, rather by accident, Erzsebet is splattered with virgin's blood, and those parts of skin covered by the blood turn as pale, as smooth, as young as Erzsebet wants her whole body to be again. So she starts to accidently cut virgins and be splattered by their blood - which is of course a tedious endeavour.

Meanwhile, Erzsebet's husband Karl is trying a corpse for being a vampire, and even though ultimately he orders the dead man to be staked, beheaded and the head to be burned, he leaves no doubt he thinks little of the local superstitions, even ridicules those involved in the case. However, secretly the vampire lore starts to fascinate him, and he hasn't been oblivious to his wife's newly found predilection for virgins' blood either, nor what the red stuff did to her skin. So he fakes his own death, only to come back as a vampire, preying on the virgins of the village - to bring them home to his wife, cut their throats and have their blood run through a hole in the floor, from which it drops right into Erzsebet's bathtub.

But Karl is of course no real vampire but just a man, with all the urges any man has - so after killing a few virgins, he pays a visit to Marina, not to kill her but to make love to her, and eventually, he brings Marina to the castle with him, as his lovetoy rather than his wife's blood source. When Erzsebet finds the two of them together in embrace, she picks up her husband's dagger he used for the vampire killings and kills them both. Then she goes to court to reveal the whole plot she and her husband have set up to gather virgins' blood - and while hubby is staked, beheaded and his head burned, just like any other vampire, she is walled into her castle for the rest of her life ...

 

Another variation on the Elizabeth Bathory-myth, this is actually a quite enjoyable 1970's Eurohorror take on the subject. Though neither as gory nor as sexually explicit as other European shockers of its time, it's carried by a straight-forward, atmospheric and essentially flawless direction, a script that's actually intelligent (not a given with Eurohorrors), and of course great and authentic locations.

In all though, I wouldn't describe this one a bona fide classic, it's good but not really special, but a nice and enjoyable piece of (pseudo-)vampire cinema.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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starring
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