Synapse has done fans of clas­sic hor­ror a favor in the last few years by under­tak­ing blu-ray/DVD com­bo releas­es of a set of films that Hammer co-pro­duced with Rank in the U.K.  Their edi­tions of Vampire Circus, Twins Of Evil and Hands Of The Ripper were a hit with fans and gave a well-deserved revival to the oft-over­looked “new wave of Hammer” titles that com­pa­ny pro­duced at the turn of the ‘70s.  Synapse has recent­ly com­plet­ed this series with a blu-ray/DVD release of Countess Dracula and the results offer a fit­ting CountessD-bluclose this string of releas­es.

Things begin with an excel­lent HD trans­fer of Countess Dracula at its the­atri­cal ratio 1.66:1.  The blu-ray was watched for this review and the glossy pho­tog­ra­phy looks love­ly here, achiev­ing a sense of depth in both detail and col­ors.  The results do well by the typ­i­cal­ly lush pro­duc­tion style of this Hammer favorite.  The audio sticks to the film’s orig­i­nal mono mix, pre­sent­ed in a loss­less for­mat on the blu-ray.  It’s a solid vin­tage mix and Harry Robinson’s swoon­ing orches­tral score gets a real punch from the new dig­i­tal clar­i­ty it receives.

Synapse also includes a set of bonus fea­tures, the same on both discs.  The largest is a com­men­tary track that fea­tures star Ingrid Pitt, direc­tor Peter Sasdy, screen­writer Jeremy Paul and mod­er­a­tor Jonathan Sothcott.  Sasdy and Paul take the lead here, with Sasdy dis­cussing how he lever­aged his bCountessD-05ack­ground direct­ing the­ater for the BBC to bring in top actors and tech­ni­cians for the film while Paul dis­cuss­es the moti­va­tions behind each scene as well as the com­plex bal­ance of ele­ments he had to main­tain.

Pitt chimes in with some inter­est­ing mate­ri­al, includ­ing how she land­ed the role and her well-researched opin­ion on the real Countess Bathory.  Sothcott does a solid job mod­er­at­ing, giv­ing the par­tic­i­pants plen­ty of room to talk but inter­ject­ing the occa­sion­al ques­tion to give the com­ments focus.  All in all, a solid track for Hammer fans.

There are also two Pitt-cen­tric extras to be enjoyed here.  The first is an 11-min­ute fea­turet­te called “Immortal Countess” that offers a sketch of her life sto­ry, with gen­re his­to­ri­ans like Ted Newsom, Robert Cotter and Richard Klemenson offer­ing a spo­ken his­to­ry.  It is revealed that she escaped from child­hood impris­on­ment in a con­cen­tra­tion camp to estab­lish a show­biz career on her own terms.  The par­tic­i­pants also offer a nice appre­ci­a­tion of her work in Countess DraculaCountessD-06

There is also an eight and a half min­ute audio inter­view with Pitt from a pro­mo­tion­al engage­ment for the film Who Dares Wins.  She speaks fond­ly of the endur­ing nature of the fan­dom for her hor­ror work and also tells a fun­ny tale about Richard Burton and Where Eagles Dare.

The pack­age is round­ed out by a the­atri­cal trail­er, the orig­i­nal 3-min­ute spot pro­duced for the film’s U.K. release.  It does a good job of sell­ing the film and Pitt’s unique “dual” role.  All in all, this set of Countess Dracula is a solid finale for Synapse’s string of HD Hammer releas­es and a treat for fans of vin­tage hor­ror.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Countess Dracula, click here.