31 Days of Horror: The Legend of Blood Castle

The second night into this year’s watch-feast takes us to Spain, most famous for its blind dead. No zombies for us tonight, though. Instead it’s a retelling of the Elizabeth Bathory legend in the form of The Legend of Blood Castle (1973).

The film opens with a vampire hunt underway in a small village. Peasants scour the cemetery with horse and virgin, seeking the vampire’s grave. This is observed by the noble occupants of the local castle, Countess Erzebeth Bathory and her husband, Karl. The Countess, however, is more concerned with her fading beauty, while Karl spends most of his time thinking about his hunting hawks. When the vampire hunt turns up the relatively fresh body of Dr. Plojovitz in his coffin, it’s time for a good old fashioned vampire trial! The first third of the movie becomes a courtroom drama—except the accused is dead, has a stake through his heart, and is lying in a casket. Let’s see Law & Order do that!

As the trial proceeds, the Countess discovers that blood from one of her virginal servants beautifies her skin. Encouraged by her oldest and most trusted servant, who reminds the Countess of her ancestor who once bathed in virgin’s blood, it’s not long before accidents are being staged to collect children’s precious life-giving fluids for her beauty regimen.

Meanwhile, the trial has concluded and it’s revealed that the good undead Doctor (no, not Dr. Acula) had an acquired a medallion before he died, and it’s this cursed piece of jewelry that’s blamed for his vampirism. Karl, who already displayed some psychotic tendencies, claims the medallion for himself and pretty soon he’s dropped dead—allegedly.

Despite presenting several supernatural elements, the movie plays coy as to whether there’s anything supernatural actually going on. Karl rises from his coffin and starts hunting virgins to bring back to the castle, but is he a vampire or was he only buried alive? The Countess starts spiraling further into madness and sees apparitions, but are they ghosts or are they delusions of a guilt-ridden psyche? It’s an interesting choice by the film, but it works more in concept than execution.

I watched this on Amazon Prime and the version they have on streaming is dreadful. The print is muddy, random alphabetical characters show up on screen for periods of time, and its 4:3 aspect ratio. But I’d already paid my money so I might as well watch the thing.

Ultimately, I found the movie uninteresting despite its efforts. The vampire trial was the highlight, but more for its farcical nature than any drama. I did learn that Dr. Plojovitz was based on the very real Petar Blagojević, however, so I got something out of the movie. Combine this with the terrible streaming quality, and The Legend of Blood Castle gets a mere 1.5 skulls out of 5.

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