The Legend of Blood Castle (1973)

Blood Ceremony is another film based around the Elizabeth Bathory legend. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this legend makes for a great story and is one of the backbones of the horror genre’s overall influence, there hasn’t really been a good film about it; and Jorge Grau hasn’t changed that with this film. I really hoped that this would be good and I wanted to like it as Blood Ceremony has a lot going for it in terms of atmosphere and set design, but the story really isn’t strong enough to hold the audience’s attention despite the fact that it features vampirism and a countess bathing in blood. As you would expect, the countess discovering that bathing in human blood makes up the backbone of this story, but there’s also a vampire theme running throughout. This is brought directly into the story when the countess’ husband plays into the villagers’ fears of vampires by faking his own death in order to give himself cover to bring young women to wife, so she can preserve her beauty…

The film is directed by Jorge Grau, who is of course most famous for his Video Nasty zombie flick masterpiece ‘Let Sleeping Corpses Lie’. The two films have a great atmosphere in common and it’s clear that this is important to the director. As you would expect given the plot line, the film features a fair amount of blood, which is good to see. The film’s main contender is probably the Ingrid Pitt lead Hammer Horror film ‘Countess Dracula’, and comparisons are always likely to be made between the two. To be honest, while it was not Hammer’s finest hour; I have to say that I preferred Countess Dracula, as it was overall the more interesting of the two films. Lucia Bosé is good in the lead role, though she doesn’t really have the screen presence of Ingrid Pitt, which is another reason why I feel the Hammer film is the better of the two. Blood Ceremony is not really a bad film; the atmosphere is great and the film always looks nice; but for my money the plot didn’t really work well and I found myself getting bored a couple of times too often. Could have been better!