A brotherhood of vampires kidnap a successful young businesswoman because she is the direct descendant of the notorious Countess Elizabeth Bathory. At first she refuses to embrace her deadly heritage, but they isolate her at their secret facility and try to persuade her otherwise…
Unusual Australian cocktail of blood sucking and science fiction that never really develops beyond its intriguing initial premise, which was quite original for the time. These vampires have adapted to the modern world, running an isolated ‘Blood Farm’ to ensure a constant supply via live donors, and testing the quality scientifically to ensure they only get the finest vintages. This cutting edge approach is combined with a suitable reverence for tradition, with organised rituals and an obsession with their unholy lineage. This last matter is actually a little bit of a problem here as the real life Elizabeth Bathory was most definitely not a vampire, despite Ingrid Pitt’s appearance as the character in the misleadingly titled ‘Countess Dracula’ (1970). Instead, she merely bathed in the blood of virgins in an effort to retain her youth. Which is obviously far more reasonable.
Although this isn’t an insurmountable problem, it does highlight the film’s main weakness: the script. The whole story revolves around the brotherhood’s efforts to turn Chantal Contouri to the dark side, but we never really find out why. There’s some references to ‘reuniting two great houses’ but that’s as far as it goes, and if the original intention was to bring Dracula into the mix, it never happens. So there seems little motivation behind events, and the underdeveloped characters are simply one note ciphers. These include British actor David Hemmings as the strangely sympathetic lead scientist and U.S. ‘rent a villain’ Henry Silva, who appeared memorably in mainstream hits like ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (1962) and ‘Oceans Eleven’ (1960). He was also pretty much a fixture on the cult movie circuit, thanks to films like ‘Alligator’ (1980), ‘Bronx Warriors’ (1983) and the disastrous ‘Megaforce’ (1982). There were also many TV roles in shows such as the original 1960s version of ‘The Outer Limits’, ‘Mission: Impossible’, ‘Buck Rogers In The 25th Century’ and ‘Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea’.
The film actually does have some good points, with the scenes of the ‘blood cows’ lining up to make their regular donations being particularly effective. There’s also a very good performance from Shirley Cameron as the sadistic head nurse who is determined to break Contouri’s resistance by any means necessary.
Unfortunately, events play out in a rather unconvincing manner, and there’s not much of a climax. Even with a couple of crude shocks and some bloody scenes, the whole thing has the feel of something made for television, rather than the big screen. There’s also a terrible stunt double in a helicopter sequence, which is so silly that it’s more comedic than horrifying.
After a long career in Australia, director Ron Hardy packed his bags for Hollywood in the 1990s where he ended up working extensively in television, helming episodes of ‘The X-Files’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (the new incarnation) and ‘Doll House.’ He also brought us ‘Nick Fury: Agent of Shield’ (1988), the TV movie that featured David Hasselhoff as the title character, long behalf he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the person of Samuel L Jackson.
A passable horror with a few interesting ideas, but with characters that lack depth and a story that’s never fully developed.