Countess Dracula / The Vampire Lovers

Countess Dracula / The Vampire Lovers (1970)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, George Cole, Nigel Green
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Excerpts, Trailers

MGM’s ’Midnite Movies’ have long become a welcome roster of horror releases that offer some cult and classic genre movies in top quality for little money. With the new double feature ’Countess Dracula / The Vampire Lovers’ we now have two seductive Hammer horror films on one DVD that fans have been salivating for.

Starring Ingrid Pitt, both films were made towards the end of Hammer’s heydays and it is obvious on a few levels. The sets and matte paintings had been reused so many times by now that you can easily place them in about 10 other movies right off the top of your head. The film also focuses noticeably on cleavage and bare breasts instead of the gloomy atmosphere of the studios best films. Still both films are fun to watch and especially ’The Vampire Lovers’ is a great version of the classic ’Camilla’ story, also starring Peter Cushing. It is an atmospheric vampire story that is nicely paced and offers some exciting thrills.

MGM Home Entertainment is offering up both films in anamorphic widescreen on this DVD in beautiful and clean transfers. Although some slight registration problems are evident, the transfers are generally free of specks and other mars. The color reproduction of the films is also very good without noticeable oversaturation. Skin tones are natural looking and the rich tinges and hues found in the atmospheric cinematography are reproduced in a vibrant fashion, giving the films the classic Hammer look. Crimson blood, rich costumes and slightly muted sets is what defines the Hammer look and the DVD perfectly captures it on this release. The DVDs are also free of compression artifacts adding to the enjoyment of viewing these films.

The DVD contains the original mono audio tracks of these films. Though sounding a bit dated, the audio is clean and clear and the slight distortion audible in some of the crescendi is more of a technical limitation of the original elements than an error of the DVD.

Despite its status as a budget DVD release, the DVD also contains commentary tracks, each one with star Ingrid Pitt and the director and screenwriters of each respective movie. The commentary tracks are a bit slow at times but nonetheless, they are full of revealing information and give you a nice feel for how Hammer operated during its time.

’The Vampire Lovers’ also includes excerpts form the novel ’Camilla’ read by Ingrid Pitt, with images from the movie superimposed. The movie’s trailers round out this great release.

While ’Countess Dracula’ and ’The Vampire Lovers’ may not be the greatest Hammer films, they certainly deserve a viewing or two. MGM has packaged these films up very nicely, with a high quality transfer and even a few exciting extras. At $14.95, there can be no question that every fan of classic horror should make this DVD part of their collection.