The Countess


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Countess is about the umpteenth film made about the infamous Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory, who was almost a precise contemporary of William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes. (Bathory 1560-1614; Shakespeare 1564-1616; Cervantes 1547-1616). According to legend, the countess became convinced that she could maintain her youth by bathing in the blood of virgins. That belief was engendered by charges which her contemporary nobles levied against her. Her mythic status has grown through the centuries until she has become the female equivalent of Dracula in modern pop culture.

Some modern historians argue that the charges against her were fabricated for a variety of reasons, focusing on the fact that the countess was more powerful than the Hungarian king. The king himself was deeply in debt to her, and she was the most powerful Protestant in a Catholic country during the era of internecine strife between Christians. Given those facts, many powerful people in Hungary, including the ruler, would have had much to gain by getting her out of the way. Not all historians subscribe to this view. The other scholars acknowledge that opportunistic men used Bathory's crimes as their pretext to seize her assets, but also insist that the charges, while exaggerated and based on some fabricated evidence and confessions coerced by torture, were nonetheless essentially true.

Most of the films made about the countess in the past have been sensationalist efforts which have focused entirely on portraying her alleged sexual and violent misdeeds in graphic detail. In the past year, however, two mainstream films have added new spins to the Bathory oeuvre.

  • The first such film was 2008's Bathory, which starred Anna Friel as Countess Bathory. The premise of that movie was that the charges against the countess were entirely fabricated by her enemies, furthered by misunderstanding, and perpetuated by the ignorance of the times. The screenwriter imagined an alternate scenario to explain the politics and circumstances which might have precipitated those charges.
  • The premise of this film, which stars Julie Delpy as Bathory, is that the charges against her were fundamentally accurate, irrespective of the political machinations involved in the Hungarian justice system. The scriptwriter in this case (Julie Delpy again), having made the assumption that Bathory was a mass murderer, therefore focused on the circumstances which might have turned an educated noblewoman into such a monster.

Delpy was not only the author and star of this film, but she also produced, directed and wrote the musical score. She can perform every function in filmmaking. Unfortunately, she's not good at any of them.  Her performance is especially awful, uniformly stilted and artificial. I know that her English is normally quite good, but in this film she sounds like she is pronouncing syllables phonetically without understanding what they mean. I suppose that was caused by an ill-advised attempt at a Hungarian accent, although it sounds more like an attempt to imitate Forrest Gump. And she's one of the better performers in the film, indicating that her casting sense was as faulty as her ear for dialects. Her script is weighted down with voice-over narration, sometimes clumsily delivered by a non-omniscient character who nonetheless relates details he could not have known about. More important, the script fails to establish any point or to accomplish anything worthwhile. When the film ended, my first thought was, "Apart from demonstrating her versatility, why did she want to make that film in the first place?"

To be fair, there is some kind of pseudo-feminist subtext in the story, but it's truly outré. Her rationale basically consists of "If I had been a man I could have killed as many people as I pleased, with impunity. Furthermore, as a man I wouldn't have had to worry about not being young and pretty, so I wouldn't have needed that virgin blood to begin with." In other words, her merciless exsanguinations of young girls represented nothing worse than what every male aristocrat did back in the day - and those men were declared heroes while she was labeled a monster.

Man, life sucks for chicks. You just kill a few hundred children and everybody turns all moral on you.

And to think that I used to think that kind of behavior was unacceptable for women as well as for men.

My bad.

Awaiting DVD info.


There are no English-language reviews online. You will find several foreign reviews linked from the IMDb page.






6.4 IMDB summary (of 10)






It was not released in the North America. It had a brief theatrical run in Germany and Austria in the summer of 2009. In Germany, it opened in 14th place (67 theaters) and finished with a gross of about $350,000. In Austria, it made it into only 11 theaters, but that's a small country, so it still managed to crack the top ten one week, even though its final tally was less than $60,000.

It also appeared in two theaters in Turkey and one in Finland.






  • Delpy showed her breasts in a sex scene







Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Not recommended. Pretty much a complete waste of time because it's awful, but not in the kind of lovably bad way that allows you to get wasted and mock it.