Countess Dracula

London: Hammer Film Productions, 1970. Draft script for the 1971 film. Copy belonging to cult horror icon Ingrid Pitt, who played the titular character, with her extensive holograph ink annotations on nearly every page (and many page versos), including her blocking notes and detailed character analyses in both Polish and English.

Loosely based on the apocryphal legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian noblewoman who killed young girls in order to bathe in their blood, which she found to result in vitality and youth. Recounting the violent stories of Bathory's cruelty serve a cautionary purpose as much as they titillate—a tale of an aging woman unable to accept her own mortality, compelled by and ultimately punished for her own vanity and excess.

Actor Ingrid Pitt spent much time considering this, as evidenced by her notes within the script, which reference not only the madness and weakness of her character, but her desire to craft a portrait of a complex woman audiences could (to some degree) empathize with, and, in her own words, "see all for what it's worth + laugh about it, make [the] audience laugh, otherwise no horror in it." In a broader context, Bathory's story also played to the lingering fear of the late 1960s hippie movement: an older generation bent on sucking the life and vibrancy from the young.

Pitt had already garnered accolades for her part as the lusty, sapphic murderess Marcilla/Camilla in "The Vampire Lovers" (1970), the first film in the Hammer trilogy based on Sheridan Le Fanu's vampire novella "Carmilla." Hammer Films' attempt to stay relevant in the 1970s, given the changing norms (and slackening censorship enforcement) within British film at the time, resulted in more explicit scenes, more nudity, and far more shock-horror gore than the company had released in prior decades. Films like "The Vampire Lovers" and "Countess Dracula" traded on Hammer's preexisting reputation for expertly staged violence and overt sexuality, but represented the company's desire to move away from the (increasingly outdated) old-fashioned gothic horror themes upon which it had built a cult following.

Although Pitt's voice was eventually dubbed over in post-production, a decision that made her vow never to speak to director Peter Sasdy again, "Countess Dracula" nonetheless proved to be her career-defining performance. The film would also be the final on-screen appearance of English character actor Nigel Green, who died in 1972.

Set in medieval Hungary.

Yellow untitled wrappers with a die-cut title window in the British style. Title page present, dated 1.6.1970, with credits for screenwriter Jeremy Paul. 117 leaves, with last page of text numbered 96. Mimeographed, rectos only, with rainbow revision pages throughout, dated variously between 16.6.70 and 5.7.70. Pages Near Fine, wrapper Very Good plus, bound internally with two silver brads.

Flynn, "Cinematic Vampires," p. 103. Johnson and Del Vecchio, "Hammer Films: An Exhaustive Filmography," p. 332. Weldon 1983.

[Book #146079]

Price: $3,000.00