Bathory Films Bathe In Bloody Legacy

Slovakia will soon be serenaded on the silver screen with a pair of gothic chillers. Elizabeth Bathory, the so-called Blood Countess, is destined for a double bill in 2008, with two rival projects in the pipeline from Slovak and International crews.

Erszebet Bathory, a Hungarian noble who has been described as the world's most prolific female serial killer, is a genuine historical character from the late sixteenth century. The nobility from these lands didn't have the reputation for being the sweetest of their lot, but Countess Bathory's alleged crimes - which included an all too literal incarnation of the bloodbath - went a fair few leagues beyond established norms.

The first film due for release has Anna Friel in the role of the Countess. Billed as Slovakia's most expensive film ever, Bathory is scheduled for a January 2008 premiere. However, early word is that the film plays down the gore element, portraying Bathory as a woman who was framed by rival noble dynasties. Veteran director Juraj Jakubisko has already completed filming the epic, and the movie is now in post-production.

The second film, under a working title of The Countess, sees French siren Julie Delpy taking up both the director's baton and the leading role. Having only just made her directorial debut last year with the acclaimed romantic comedy Two Days In Paris, it's quite a change for the star of Before Sunrise. Her take on Bathory will apparently not shirk from the murderous legacy that history has recorded. Maverick director Vincent Gallo will take a supporting role.

Elizabeth Bathory's residence at Cachtice in northern Slovakia (once part of the Hungarian crownlands) can still be visited today, although it has been reduced to a suitably atmospheric ruin. However, it looks like a wave of interest could now be on the cards for both the castle and the sleepy village below. Is Bathory Hostel about to open its (blood red) doors?


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