Thursday, May 15, 2014

Countess Dracula (Blu-ray Review) - Synapse Films

Directed By: Peter Sasdy
Written By: Jeremy Paul
Starring: Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green, Sandor Eles
Color/93 Minutes/PG
Region A
Release Date: May 6, 2014

The Film
Ingrid Pitt stars as Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy, an aging woman who discovers that bathing in the blood of young women can rejuvenate her youthful beauty. When the Countess falls for a handsome man named Imre Toth she goes to great lengths to impersonate her own daughter to win the affection of the man. Women among the village start disappearing which causes a bit of a paranoid panic but does anyone dare question the powerful Countess with their own life at stake? And will the Countess be able to keep up her bloodlust to satisfy her desires for unnatural beauty?

Director Peter Sasdy successfully combines the classic Gothic horror style of Hammer with a bit of body-horror as well. From the dark, shadowy halls of the Countess’ castle filled with secret passages to the unnatural and mentally sick need to look young. Ingrid Pitt is great in the lead role, a bit menacing and totally maniacal, she has almost the entire castle’s population on her side, and makes sure they dispose of those who aren’t.

COUNTESS DRACULA is an unsung piece of greatness from Hammer’s later catalog. As production quality started to slip Peter Sasdy used his extensive experience to pull greatness out of the picture, something he’d do for Hammer a few more times in feature film form and a decade later with their TV series, Hammer House Of Horror. COUNTESS DRACULA is a well made, slightly sleazy, and totally entertaining horror film.

The Audio & Video
Synapse Films brings the long awaited Blu-ray release of COUNTESS DRACULA to viewers with a gorgeous looking transfer preserving the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The HD transfer has a natural grain structure and a true filmic quality. This Blu-ray truly looks as if you were watching a 35mm print, and that is probably the highest compliment I can give for a Blu-ray. The print is clean and in great condition. Colors are vivid without being too hot and skin tones natural and healthy. Black levels are deep and inky with on signs of compression issues. The DTS-HD 2.0 track sounds wonderful as well. Dialogue comes through crisp and clear with a perfectly mixed soundtrack to keep from overpowering each other. There are no instances of background noise. This is exactly how I would want COUNTESS DRACULA to look and sound on Blu-ray.

Note: Images taken from DVD copy.

The Extras
-Audio commentary with: Ingrid Pitt, Peter Sasdy, screenwriter Jeremy Paul and author Jonathan Sothcott
-”Immortal Countess: The Cinematic Life Of Ingrid Pitt” - A 9 minute overview of Pitt’s break into films and her career, focusing mainly on her Hammer output.
-Archival audio inteview with Ingrid Pitt
-Theatrical Trailer
-Stills Gallery
-Reversible Artwork

The Bottom Line
The long wait from announcement to release is finally over and Synapse Films has made it more than worth the wait. The damn near perfect A/V presentation coupled with gorgeous artwork and some solid extras (my only complaint being that I wish the Pitt featurette was longer and went more in depth) make this one of my favorite releases of 2014 so far.


No comments: