Guinness World Records lists her as the most prolific female murderer, but it’s just as likely that the allegations against her were invented to take away her land and wealth. Mysteries swirl around Erzsébet Báthory aka Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (August 7, 1560 – August 21, 1614). She was born into an aristocratic Hungarian family, married a local nobleman, and had five children. After nearly 30 years of marriage, her husband died, and around this time, rumors arose connecting Erzsébet to unexplained deaths. Eventually, the magnate who Báthory’s husband had left in charge of his family and financial matters would investigate and arrest Erzsébet. She was accused of torturing and killing many young servant girls, and she was imprisoned in her castle of Csejte for the final years of her life.
While the truth of what happened is highly debatable, the bits and pieces of her story have been source material for a ton of cheesy horror flicks. I’m not going to dignify the more salacious ones or the endless “descendant of Erzsébet Báthory who likes to bathe in blood” tropes. I do want to look at the on-screen versions showing a bit of her life because she’s a fascinating woman — Halloween time or any time!
Ingrid Pitt in Countess Dracula (1971)
Lucia Bosé in The Legend of Blood Castle aka Ceremonia sangrienta (1973)
Julia Saly in Night of the Werewolf aka El retorno del Hombre Lobo (1981)
Anna Friel in Bathory: Countess of Blood (2008)
Julie Delpy in The Countess (2009)
Svetlana Khodchenkova in The Blood Queen aka The Lady of Csejte (2015)
What’s your favorite on-screen version of Erzsébet Báthory?
The one with Ingrid Pitt. My wife and I had the pleasure of knowing her and her central casting race car driver husband. Ingrid was a child survivor of the camps, very witty, not shy about her opinions and just a delight to know.
I love Ingrid Pitt! Just watched The Vampire Lovers a couple of weeks ago. Think I’ll have to watch Countess Dracula again (maybe tonight). :)
I envy you so much, having actually known Ingrid Pitt!
COUNTESS DRACULA is the only one of these I’ve managed to see, even though I find the historical figure of great interest. (I even have a DVD double feature with Pitt’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS within arm’s reach as I type.)
I’ve read online that some costumes were carried over from ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS (as well as the sets), but I’m not sure.
I have to point out, though, that EL RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO was not a Mexican film. It was part of a long-running series made in Spain by actor/producer/writer/director Jacinto Molina/”Paul Naschy” featuring his “tragic hero” werewolf character Waldemar Daninsky.
A great list of titles for Halloween! Thanks for this entry!
Love love love Ingrid Pitt! As any Hammer fan cannot fail to.
I suppose it might’ve been deliberately omitted as one of “the more salacious ones,” but there’s also Walerian Borowczyk’s IMMORAL TALES (CONTES IMMORAUX, 1973), in which Paloma Picasso arguably had the strongest natural physical resemblance to the portraits of Báthory.
Unfortunately, Borowczyk– a Polish animator who wound up making exploitation films for the arthouse crowd– is one of those directors that’s more entertaining to read about than watch.
Worse, there’s not much of a story here, given that it’s the third of four “erotic vignettes,” and it’s mostly an excuse for “artsy” female nudity, blood bathing and a little sapphic canoodling.
But the costumes are amusingly craptastic, with a floating ruff and a lot of window sheers and tablecloth lace involved (don’t worry, these images are all hideous but completely work safe, despite the source film):
Borowczyk was drawn to period settings throughout his career, including his 1971 film BLANCHE, which some regard as a fairly well-done medieval tragedy. That one might actually be worth a review if you can track it down (it was on YouTube briefly, then MUBI).
Ah, I couldn’t find pix from that one with costumes heh. Just a lot of soft-porn, so yeah, one I skipped ;)
Would you believe that when that film was in first run, the ads said, “Now you don’t have to go to a museum to see a Picasso nude”? sigh eyeroll
The Noble Blood podcast just did a whole episode on Erzsébet Báthory and the political context for the allegations of murder made against her. I recommend it highly. http://noblebloodtales.com/
ooo, I love that podcast! Time to catch up!
The whole issue of how reliable any of the accusations against Erzsébet Báthory were is what makes me question the claims of racial mixing for Alessandro de’ Medici and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
A Curious Thing about Countess Dracula is thet they renamed her “Elizabeth Nadasdy” that’s curious because that was actually her husband’s surname but in real life she didn’t adopt it because her family was of supperior station and older as well, quite a feminist
I Watched Ceremonia Sangrienta apparently it wasn’t about the Real Erzsebet but one of her decendants that desperate for her husband’s attention begins to follow on her ancestor’s footsteps with the help of her Saddistic Husband and a Maid
I Remember a “Mirror Mirror” short film with Mamie Mcvoy (The MUsketeers) as Erzsebet, as for the Last Two: Love Anna Friel but the only interesting thing about was the trailer the filme itself is one big mess, looks and sounds like one of those art films we have to watch for school or college and get out not understanding a thing, they made lots of effort to make us believe erszebet was innocent but it wasn’t very convincing, as for the countess, lovely movie, nice costumes and tragic story they made us feel sorry for her even if she was portrayed as guilty they gave an outstanding complexity to her
I never saw a film about her, but rating from all photos I found already “The Countess” should be the best. Although it seems to be a who is who of European cinema with many German stars (Daniel Brühl, Henriette Confurius, Charly Hübner …).