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Review: Countess Dracula / Author: Guy Adams / Publisher: Hammer / Release Date: Out Now

Recently Hammer have been reinventing themselves as a publisher of original fiction and novels inspired by their back catalogue of movie classics. This time it's the turn of Countess Dracula (the one where Ingrid Pitt bathes in the blood of virgins), and they've found just the man for the job in Guy Adams, a slick and proficient toiler in the tie-in/spin-off fields.

Adams has updated the story to 1930s Hollywood. Elizabeth Sadsy, a fading star of the silent era, stumbles upon the rejuvenating properties of blood when she accidentally injures a maid during a domestic squabble. From there, there's no stopping her, and, good looks restored, she's soon back making a splash in A-list society, while also making splashes of a grislier kind in a deserted farmhouse where she slaughters waifs and prostitutes with gusto.

Retooling the Bathory legend as a tale of Hollywood excess works very well. It's a Hollywood story par excellence – after all, this is a milieu where no-one is at all disconcerted when an ageing actress suddenly looks twenty years younger, they just want to know what clinic she's been going to. There's a seedy Black Dahlia ambience to the murders, and an engaging central character in the shape of Sadsy's doggedly loyal husband Frank, who gets roped into the intrigue against his will. The whole thing feels a bit frothy and lightweight, but it's certainly fun, and Adams' prose flashes like a cut-throat razor.

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