Day 11: Free Space!
Countess Dracula (1971)
Another ‘Free Space!’ prompt and I decided I wanted to check out a film from Hammer Films, as there are a fair number I haven’t yet seen. The chosen film to watch for Day 11 is Countess Dracula (1971), Hammer’s version of the Countess Elizabeth Báthory story and not actually about vampires. As Hammer has done so well, this is a gothic style horror with an impressive cast and quite the intriguing story to go with it.
Countess Elisabeth Nádasdy (Ingrid Pitt) is an aging widow and an accident with one of her chamber maids shows to her that young blood is the key to regaining her youth. She puts a plan in place to use her youthful looks to pretend to be her daughter Ilona and marry the handsome Imre Toth (Sandor Elès). However her plans are complicated by bodies piling up of young women and her long time lover Captain Dobi (Nigel Green) still vying to win her at all costs.
Using the story of Elizabeth Bathory as a template for one about a woman who will stop at nothing to keep her youth and get what she wants works quite well. Ingrid Pitt is fantastic as the Countess, playing both the old and young visions of the character. The film belongs to her, with great chemistry between the other two leads in Nigel Green and Sandor Elès that helps bring forth intensity to where the story ultimately goes. The Hammer staples are here with stunning visuals and wonderful costumes, whilst this may not be one that gets talked about much with Hammer, it should be as Countess Dracula is quite a memorable film.
Day 12: Prison!
Women’s Prison Massacre (1983)
The prompt for Day 12 is ‘Prison!’ and I honestly could not resist going with a Women In Prison film, generally they have an entertainment factor to them and show women being badasses. During the search for a film, I found one directed by Bruno Mattei with Claudio Fragrasso having worked on the script, surely those two names would mean Women’s Prison Massacre (1983) would be an entertaining and messy ride, however it is not and this film is quite awful for many reasons.
The plot if one could call it that takes place in a women’s prison with Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) having been sent there on trumped up charges after she tried to expose corruption. She finds the prison is violent, not only amongst the other inmates but and the guards along with the warden use any excuse to torture the inmates and show their power. Things change when four male prisoners are sent there (for some reason) and they plan to take over the prison, use hostages to escape.
Basically this is a sleaze filled violent fest that really does not like women, unlike other films in this sub-genre the women are shown to be utterly powerless against men. From the nudity, that you’d expect, there is also sexual abuse and general degradation towards them. First it is from the other guards but gets a lot worse when the men appear, they ultimately have power against everyone and when the women do take chances to fight them they are quickly over powered. It has no message other than being extremely misogynist and nonsensical, the only saving grace (and barely) is a solid performance from Laura Gemser who deserved much better. If you’re in the mood for Mattei/Fragrasso film, Women’s Prison Massacre is not the one to watch.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea
Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2022!