Hanna's War
Wild Geese II
Comedy of Errors
The Final Option
Smiley's People
Artemis 81
Where the Action Is
The Wicker Man
Nobody Ordered Love
Countess Dracula
The House That Dripped Blood
The Vampire Lovers
Where Eagles Dare
The Omegans
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Chimes at Midnight
A Kiss in the Harbour
The Splendour of Andalucia
The Prehistoric Sound



By the late 1960s, Hammer Films had parlayed the success of their period-steeped, blood-soaked Universal monster remakes into something of a fright film empire. But having relied so long on the formidable Lee-Cushing teaming and their, by now, familiar coven of buxom actresses, producers cast about for fresh blood, so to speak. Carefully, the "studio that dripped blood" molded a struggling B movie actress into an exotic "queen of horror," playing up her predatory gaze and earthy sensuality. Ingrid Pitt rode the crest of that last great, gory wave of Hammer glory in the early 1970s.

"Time and again, when I go to conventions," Pitt relates, having just returned from another successful appearance at the latest Chiller convention horrorfest, "I see thousands and thousands of people pulling into the Meadowlands Hilton, every day for four days. I think it's absolutely mind-blowing. Many of these people I saw as children. They came with their fathers in 1975. They now come with their children. They say hello and tell me wonderful lies, like 'you haven't changed a bit,' or 'you look better now than in 1975.' I just love it. I'm very susceptible to flattery."

Though primarily identified with horror films, Pitt regards her appearance in the 1969 actioner Where Eagles Dare as the turning point in her career. "I was a B picture actress before I made that incredible film," she smiles. "I was invited to play poker with John Wayne one night at Yakima Canutt's house. [Canutt was the legendary and innovative Hollywood stuntman who doubled for Wayne on many occasions. ed]. When I left -- nearly bankrupt -- because I'm not very good at poker -- Yak took me to the taxi. He said, 'What are you doing next?' At the moment I was doing Ironside. I said 'I don't have another job coming up.' He said, 'Why don't you go and see Brian Hutton at MGM? Give him my name, because I'm going to be on the picture. Tell him you want the part of Heidi.' I bypassed 399 women who went for that same part. I think it changed my life completely. I left Spain. I came to work in England. I later worked for Hammer. They recreated me as sort of a Queen of Horror. And now, I'm ageless. I will live forever."

Pitt experienced her share of real-life horrors while still a child. She emerged from Nazi-occupied Europe, settling in Spain following the war. "I grew up in a concentration camp. That's all I want to say about that," she says firmly. "There's nothing more to say. I don't want to talk about it and I beg you to accept that."

With relatively few starring vehicles known to American audiences, how to explain Pitt's lasting popularity? Her role in Where Eagles Dare was certainly well-received, but which of her films ensured her lasting status as a film icon? "I think The Vampire Lovers and Countess Dracula," she offers without hesitation. "But a lot of people love Where Eagles Dare, obviously."

One cult item of which Pitt is especially proud is 1973's The Wicker Man. "One of the greatest films I've ever appeared in, which has become an enormous classic," she states flatly. In addition, her comic talents were tested in a 1975 Hammer anthology. "People loved The House That Dripped Blood -- but they liked my episode the best. Which is good judgment because my episode, The Cloak, which came at the end of the film, was a comedy. I think it's always good to finish off with a good laugh."

Are these few films the ones Ingrid Pitt would have chosen to be remembered for? "I just am. I really have nothing to do with it," she declares. "This is just the people's choice. The people are in control. Recently, we had a big screening of The Vampire Lovers at a prestige cinema/art complex in London on the South Bank. It was totally wonderful. We had loads and loads and loads of fans come from all over the country. I did a Q&A before the screening. People stayed afterwards and we had wine and food. Everyone said such lovely things. One of the things that really galvanizes me into acting year after year, putting my [new] film together -- is the fact that all these fans keep coming to me and telling me wonderful things. They keep telling me, 'make a new film.' They keep asking me, 'when is Hammer making a new film?' I thought at one point that Hammer was finished. But I think Hammer actually is resurging and things will happen again. Perhaps we'll let them come in on my new film. It depends, of course, on what kind of a deal one can get."

Pitt plans to make her long-awaited return to films via a project she waxes enthusiastic about, while simultaneously disclosing few details as financing is yet to be completely secured. "The film is called Dracula Who?" she smiles. "It's about Dracula turning into a vegetarian -- he wants to get away from stakes. He's been married to this bitch for 2,000 years. He's really bored silly. He goes to a boarding house to live with a better class of people. But things are not quite what he thought they would be. I found a fantastic company to work with and I found a fantastic star to play Dracula." But Pitt maintains that casting must be kept under wraps, at least for the time being. "I can't tell you [who's in it.] I'm not going to divulge anything that might endanger the completion of this deal."

The inspiration for Ingrid's pet project was kindled some 25 years ago on the set of The Wicker Man. "Basically it started with Christopher Lee. The producer wanted us to come to work as Mr. and Mrs. Dracula. He thought that it would make a great movie. I pondered and pondered. Soon after, I moved into a house that had a mausoleum at the end of the garden. The children and I used to climb on the walls and look into it and be horrified. Then my husband and I went to Argentina with my daughter. In South America they have strange cemeteries. They have little houses with cobblestone streets in the middle. Doors and windows with lace curtains. It's all very macabre. My imagination ran riot. I saw these skeletons getting out of their coffins and running around in the streets and dancing and doing funny things. It just very slowly developed into one film and then another film ... It's going to be a wonderful success. I'm quite absolutely certain of that."

Certainly, Pitt's effusive optimism and unflagging energy play no small role in her ongoing popularity among genre fanatics. To this vampire queen, success is as inevitable as the next full moon. As she has already asserted, "I will live forever," and her conviction makes that difficult to doubt.


"Blood-curdling giant fly-creature runs amok!"
Return of the Fly

"Here is horror that can happen now -- to you!"
Creature With the Atom Brain

"Hell explodes under the Arctic sea!"
Atomic Submarine

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