Bathory

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The infamous Countess Erzsebet Bathory, who is said to have maintained youth and beauty into her old age by bathing in the blood of virgins, has her life story told in a more balanced but still provocative manner in this grand-scale historical drama. Bathory, played by Anna Freil, is portrayed in three important episodes from her life. Bathory falls in love with the legendary artist Caravaggio (Hans Matheson) and attempts to win his heart, which doesn't much amuse her husband Ferenc Nadasy (Vincent Regan). Later, Bathory becomes close friends with Darvulia (Deana Jakubiskova), a woman said to have remarkable healing powers, as observers remark upon Bathory's beauty which seems impervious to the passage of time or the stress of her life. And after the death of her husband, Bathory rises to a position of political power in Hungary, as Palatine Thurzo (Karel Roden) leads a plot to scuttle her ambitions. Bathory also features Bolek Polivka as a monk who narrates the countess's remarkable story. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Bathory

All Critics (2) | Top Critics (1) | Rotten (2)

  • More of a cinematic curiosity than true blockbuster material, despite its scale.

    August 20, 2008

    Boyd van Hoeij

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Plays out more like a Monty Python comedy than a serious drama, with a subplot involving roller-skating friar-detectives that makes this already turgid 140-minute bore seem a whole lot longer.

    December 2, 2010 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bathory

  • Apr 15, 2011
    NOTE: As the Twilight phenomenon spurs a vampire cultural craze, there has been a recent resurgence of interest in real life, 16th Century "vampire," Elizabeth Bathory, which has resulted in the production of several relatively new films. Most vampire enthusiasts should already be familiar with good ol' Liz, Hungarian Countess Erzsébet Báthory de Ecsed (1560 - 1614). She was a favored daughter of a wealthy Hunagarian family, was closely related to two Transylvanian Voivods, and gained even more affluence, influence, and clout upon her allegedly arranged marriage to Ferenc Nadasd of the poltically well-connected Hapsburg dynasty. A self-centered, self indulgent, idle rich heiress, Bathory is considered by some scholars to be the most prolific serial killer in history with her victim count frothing over the scoreboard at approximately 650 nubile, presumably virginal teenage girls. <div style="width:300px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/13994854"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/13/99/48/13994854_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> In a nutshell, Liz raped and sexually tortured her victims, and then consumed, soaked, and aroused herself in their blood. Perceiving the hot, living, sanguine spray from struggling teenage girls' pierced jugulars to present a visceral fountain of youth, it is commonly proposed that Liz believed their life fluid was the key to eternal youth and beauty. The historical evidence however, leans more toward the likelihood that the pernicious countess was merely a sadist and pervert who, drunk with near absolute power over her subjects, enjoyed her sadistic indulgences for their own sake. Liz Bathory was real, but her exploits have inspired a torrent of vampire lore and movies such as the 1970 Hammer production of Countess Dracula, and the 2005 Night Fangs which appeared here in the Screaming Room last Halloween. Bathory (2008) is one of two recent cinematic efforts which are presented to the public to be more or less biographies about the bloodthirsty old noblewoman. (Sadly, while they look historically authentic, both fall terribly short in the accuracy department). The second picture, entitled The Countess (2009), is a slickly filmed, German independent effort with actor William Hurt In two weeks, check the Screaming Room for a mystery/thriller about an ageless, undead Bathory rampaging in modern day Montréal, entitled, Eternal (2005). <div style="width:250px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/13994858"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/13/99/48/13994858_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></div></a></div></div> <B><I>BATHORY</I> (2008)</B> Czech Republic, English Language WRITTEN BY: John Paul Chapple, Lubomir Feldek, and Juraj Jakubisko DIRECTED BY: Juraj Jakubisko FEATURING: Anna Friel, Karel Roden, Vincent Regan, Hans Matheson, Deana Horváthová, Franco Nero GENRE: BIO-DRAMA with horror and thriller elements RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD PLOT: Fictionalized chronicle of the life, loves, and political struggles of the infamous 17th Century Hungarian Countess. COMMENTS: BATHORY is a dreamy, odd mix of historical fact, fiction, speculation, and whimsy surrounding the life of notorious sexual serial murdress, Hungarian Countess Erzsébet Báthory de Ecsed (1560 - 1614). At 141 minutes running time, the film is condensed from a three part TV miniseries. A Slovakian film produced in the Czech Republic about Hungarian history, with British actors, the mixed production values, uneven tone and ambiguous, confused story make for an unusual, entertaining, but disjointed viewing experience. The sets and costumes are colorful and imaginative yet in places smack of their television budget. Relying heavily on speculation and fancy, BATHORY'S plot combines elements of mystery, thriller, historical drama, and Renaissance steampunk adventure. Part of the movie focuses on the Countess's personal life, her youth, her marriage to Hapsburg dynasty heir, Ferenc Nádasdy, and fictionalized romance with painter Merisi Caravaggio (who in real life, never traveled to Northern Hungary.) The story also surveys the politics of Bathory's dynasty, the Hapsburg empire, their battles with the Turks, and the interplay of power posturings between Bathory and her Hapsburg in-laws. This comprehensive coverage is fine for a TV miniseries, but becomes tedious and complicated in a feature-length movie, especially given the film's sojourn into fiction. While some of the political and historical plot points in the film are accurate, others are not, and the remainder of the picture features a murky, often conflicted depiction of Countess Bathory which attempts alternate explanations for the gruesome legends about her. This aspect of the movie is deliberately ambiguous. Bodies of mutilated teenage girls indeed pile up, girls are found captive in the dungeons of Csejte Castle, and Bathory is seen murdering a couple of servants. Conversely, it is indicated that conspirators drugged the Countess with hallucinogenic mushrooms, and her Gypsy mystic soothsayer, a secret Hapsburg confederate, had Elizabeth so brainwashed with suspicious medicinal potions and metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, that Bathory had no clear conception of reality. In other words, the filmmakers seem to be saying of her dreadful transgressions, "it wasn't her fault." Bathory's infamous bath of blood, drawn from her victims, turns out to be an innocent aquatic suspension of scarlet herbs. Or was the herb bath just a decoy to fool spies? The film hedges as if the producers are too timid to take a firm stance, yet they raise the question of whether long established historical facts are in actuality nothing more than trumped-up charges. The Hapsburgs are depicted as doing their best to blame a string of mutilation killings on Bathory for political reasons, while fostering exaggerated rumors about her "alleged" perversions and crimes. To make the plot even more bizarre, two Renaissance-gadget wielding, steam punk monks infiltrate Csejte Castle searching for indicting evidence against Elisabeth in hopes that the Church can capitalize on a possible prosecution and property forfeiture. With its odd subplots, and unconventional mix of fact, speculation and whimsy, Bathory winds up being confusing and just plain weird. What the film lacks in clarity and concise presentation however, it makes up for in color and imagination, though even this cannot fully redeem it. As my library of factual historical accounts about the notorious countess steadily expands, I yearn for a solid, cinematic portrayal or her life and crimes, one that provides some real insight into Bathory's twisted psyche and morbid libido. BATHORY regrettably, falls short of the mark. Like The Countess (2009), BATHORY steadfastly resists indicting Elizabeth as the blood thirsty serial killer she clearly was. Minimizing her collusion with those servants who assisted her, and glossing over her murderous predisposition, Elizabeth's motives are written off as forgivable vanity based upon her outrageous excuse that she thought bathing in the blood of virgins (or was it just those aforementioned scarlet herbs?) would preserve her youth. Worse, the film hints that perhaps no such crimes even occurred, that if she did murder, a drugged Elizabeth was not responsible for her actions, and the reports of her macabre, orgiastic frenzies were actually malicious rumors concocted by the scheming Hapsburgs. There was plenty of motive for many parties to wish for Bathory's adjudicated demise. If she were convicted of murder, Bathory's debtors would be relieved of obligation. Additionally, in the movie, the Hapsburgs plot to acquire a number of Bathory property holdings. BATHORY speculates that even King Mathias colluded in her prosecution in accordance with financial motives, and in furtherance of a political conspiracy with the Hapsburgs. In actuality, it is an historical fact that Elizabeth had graduated from kidnapping and imprisoning peasant girls to murdering daughters of the lesser gentry. Her scandalous, nuisance behavior sparked a plethora of accusations and complaints. Elizabeth Bathory had become an embarrassment whose actions could no longer be conveniently ignored. All historical evidence indicates that Elisabeth was an intelligent pervert and serial killer. Drunk with absolute power over her subjects, she satisfied her cravings by living out Pygmalion-esque fantasies. Bathory indulged in an orgy of licentious and violent liberties with her victims before committing acts of sexual cruelty, finally killing them slowly by piercing them with narrow stakes and sharpened rods. Bathory then hanged her still kicking victims upside down over a tub, slit their throats, and bathed and masturbated in their blood. In contrast to the whitewashed account provided by the movie, BATHORY, I think a more likely vision of Elizabeth's reality is that she was driven to distraction at the very thought of evisceration and death. After reading The Bloody Countess: Atrocities of Erzsebet Bathory, by Valentine Penrose, and Kimberly Craft's extraordinarily well-researched, Infamous Lady: The True Story of Countess Erzsébet Báthory,I accept the charges that she abducted, raped, sexually abused, tortured and murdered 650 teenage girls. Furthermore, I believe that she did it solely for the sexual charge. Like Peter Kürten, the infamous Vampire of Düsseldorf, Bathory's chief motivation was probably the spontaneous sexual climaxes she almost certainly experienced while committing her atrocities. I suspect that the mere site of her blades opening the arteries of comely, naked, quivering, helpless girls sent Elizabeth into prurient convulsions.In keeping with eye witness testimony documented by Penrose describing Bathory zealously demanding that she be sexually serviced "harder! faster!" in concert with the a request for the same amplification of timber and cadence with regard to the simultaneous torture of her victims as she watched, I picture that reveling in a crimson froth of gore and abject cruelty, the depraved aristocrat surrendered to the throes of unbridled cascades of massive orgasms, so profound as to be almost obscene in their extravagance, her eyes rolling up into their sockets as she blissfully collapsed into an ecstatic, torporific stupor. Of course, I do like to indulge my explicit imagination, but given commonly accepted facts, my description is not likely much of an exaggeration. Excuse me while I blissfully light a cigarette, lean back in my chair and luxuriously exhale the smoke. Yet while her degenerate behavior was real enough to result in the destruction of the Countess's hundreds of innocent victims, it is evidently not sufficiently compelling to inspire film producers to tell the true story of Elizabeth Bathory and her stunning transgressions. I am still awaiting a revealing and factually accurate character study of this engrossing, repellant historical figure. It should be a pensive, insightful, dramatic psychological treatment of the sort of person who would want to do such appalling things. <div style="width:350px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/bathory-13994853"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/13/99/48/13994853_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:120px;font-size:10px;text-align:center;"></div><a href="http://www.flixster.com/videos?videoId=11142571"><img src="http://i.ytimg.com/vi/37o1ZBGPwuA/0.jpg" border="0" /></a><div style="font-size:10px;width:120px;text-align:center;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"><I>Bathory</I> </a> - international trailer</div>
    Pamela D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2011
    Pretty good, gothic-y drama/thriller about the infamous Elizabeth Bathory. If you've never heard of her, Elizabeth Bathory was a countess in 17th Century Hungary who, according to myth/legend/whatever, tortured and killed loads of her virgin female servants and bathed in their blood as she believed it kept her looking young. The numbers she killed range from the fairly realistic(50) to the insane(650). But in this film, the makers have decided to go for a tale of how she was framed so some other prick could take over her kingdom. Its an interesting story and Anna Friel is great as Elizabeth Bathory, playing her as a lonely, paranoid but ultimately human woman and not the eveil creature you'd imagine from the stories. But i felt it should have been darker. Thats because i love the story of this mental female vampire type character so personally would have loved to have seen the film from the perspective of the Countess being an evil bitch. But for what it is, its good.
    Adam M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 14, 2010
    Looks like a TV movie, but still has to be decent given the subject matter. EDIT: Considering the story this is based on it's considerably dull and overlong and poorly edited. 5/10.
    Nyk P Super Reviewer

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