Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Screaming is Free.

While John was away last week collecting topless stripper cards on the Vegas Strip, I indulged in a bit of cinematic randomness, including one of my favorite Hammer horror flicks, Countess Dracula (1971). Ingrid Pitt, in my opinion, was just as integral to the beloved British studio's storied mythos as my other Hammer heroes, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. She was Hammer's answer to Barbara Steele, her gaze just as enchanting, her eyes just as feline.

Hammer Horror Countess Dracula Masterpiece Collection Bust
Ingrid Pitt as Countess Dracula. What a bust.

And she did nudity, which was far from gratuitous; rather, her body was an extension of her craft, a messenger for her natural ability to lend gothic credibility to any film she was in. When Ms. Pitt passed away last year, I was shocked before I was sad; didn't it seem as if she were eternal? Immortal? Like Christopher Lee, who I feel, at this point, should officially be given a free pass from ever dying. The man had to wait until 2009 to be knighted, for crying out loud.

But back to Ingrid Pitt. Like Barbara Steele, Pitt belongs to that genre category of women who evoked screams rather than emitted them. These are the scream queens I love, strong, sexy, iconic women who filled their victims with intoxicating desire and then dread, bringing them to their knees, trembling. Sybil Danning also belongs in this group, as does Elvira, prototypically speaking.

I'd love to play the eternal temptress, mostly in my mind and not on celluloid. I've had my time in front of the camera; I won't even try to call it acting—more like my husband was making a short film and needed a girl to torture for a summer. Who better than his wife? For weeks last year, John held me underwater in my parents' pool, covered me in buckets of blood, ran me through take after take and made me stand naked and wet in our shower for hours on end until my skin chaffed and my feet hurt. And I loved it. The process was delightfully sadomasochistic and Argento-nian.

Hey, this wasn't in the vows.
Would I ever do another horror film for my husband? Maybe, if he were to make a Hammer-style homage in which I could play a bewitching villainess.

I don't want to be the ingenue. I want to be the engineer. Marki Bey in Sugar Hill (1974), if you will. Anyone can scream, run, trip and feign surprise at the sight of the devil, but not anyone can play the devil in a blue dress the way Ingrid Pitt did.