Countess Elizabeth Báthory of Hungary is perhaps the most prolific female serial killer of all time. Thanks to her active years (1585-1609), it’s hard to know for certain just how many she killed. But it is clear that she was uncommonly “gifted” at kidnapping, torturing, and killing young women.
Báthory’s legend has only grown over the years, with the gory details getting more and more gruesome. The most famous legend? That Báthory bathed in the blood of the young women she killed, believing that it would keep her—and her skin—young forever.
The terrifying torture chambers and fragmented remnants of her victims understandably have lent themselves well to horror films about the demented countess. Although there have been dozens of movies about the Countess Elizabeth Báthory, these 10 are among the best inspired by her terrifying tale.
The Night of the Werewolf
Called The Return of the Wolfman in its original Spanish, this entry in a long-running series about werewolf/Count Waldemar Daninsky features the wolfman and Elizabeth Báthory consigned to execution together for their crimes. Since the two are nearly impossible to kill, they find themselves entrapped in a terrifying and intense battle.
In modern-day California, Liz Batho (a truly inspired pseudonym for our dear friend Báthory) is running an abstinence program in a local high school. Her “Virginity Action Group” is keeping her well-supplied with the virgin blood she needs, until a high school blogger begins to smell something funny about the whole situation.
Times are tough for those who need virgin blood to stay young and alive, but Mama Dracula keeps on trucking. It’s 1980, and Báthory-inspired Mama is having trouble finding enough virgins to keep herself around. This weird 1980 flick is worth checking out, even if just to see Nurse Ratched play Báthory.
Daughters of Darkness
This story about Báthory places her in Belgium in 1971—her trick of bathing in girls’ blood has indeed kept her young and alive all these years. This seductive horror film will have you jumping out of your seat.
Many of the Elizabeth Báthory movies filmed have a sexy edge to them, but this one isn’t just sexy—it’s straight up about sex. This four-part anthology features one story about Báthory, this time played by Paloma Picasso, daughter of Pablo. This surrealist collection was the last of provocateur Walerian Borowcyzk’s work that found favor with critics.
The original tale of Dracula has many elements that make it ripe for a re-adaptation based on Countess Báthory. The undertones of sexuality, desire for youth, and Eastern European wealth are all part of both stories. So combining the two makes perfect sense, and resulted in a sexy and scary movie about the “Countess Elisabeth Násady”.
Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise) had been trying to fund and create her version of the Báthory movie for years. Delpy directs and stars in this blood bath of a biopic.
This imaginative slasher film combines video games coming to life, Countess Báthory, and a revenge epic for the ages. It put us off PS2s for life.
Bathory: Countess of Blood
Over the years, many have suggested that the Countess was actually the victim of a framing. This biopic takes that view, saying that Báthory was poisoned with hallucinogens, falsely accused of witchcraft, and put to death to pay for crimes she would never have willingly committed on her own. Director Juraj Jakubisko leans into the absurdity of the Báthory story, including strange, hallucinatory sequences.
Hostel: Part II
This pick is only for those with guts of steel. Eli Roth’s second torture porn flick includes a scene in which one of its protagonists is hung upside from a ceiling, nude, then whipped until the killer below has enough blood to bathe in. Yup, she’s inspired by the Countess Báthory.
Featured still from "The Countess" via Serenity Film