COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970)
Written and Directed by Bob Kelljan
After attending a seance conducted by Count Yorga, her late mother’s boyfriend, Donna becomes frightfully unwell much to the concern of her partner and friends. It seems Count Yorga is not all he seems as over the course of the following days, Donna’s friends go missing, one by one, in unusual circumstances. Convinced something strange is afoot, Donna’s boyfriend enlists the help of Dr Jim Hayes who suspects Yorga may be a vampire after taking into account Donna’s symptoms. Determined to find out the truth and stop him once and for all, Dr Hayes decides to confront Count Yorga in his grand homestead.
Campy vampire flick COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE is a low budget but charming effort featuring the dashing Robert Quarry as the charismatic, educated Count Yorga. Whilst its first hard to imagine that this gentleman is indeed a vampire, it soon becomes painfully obvious when we see the Count at home in his usual attire – cape and all. His thirst for beautiful young ladies sees him entrance the grieving Donna and so it’s up to her friends to save her from a lifetime of undead… that’s if it’s not too late!
As a vampire movie set in modern times, COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE works rather well. Whilst it can be a little corny at times, the sense of dread when Yorga enters the screen is ever present. His refined charm makes you lust for and admire this guy, hell, even root for him but at the same time you fear what he can do and has done to others. It seems every villain needs a sidekick though and Count Yorga has his in hairy butler/groundskeeper Brudah who looks like he may be of the lycan kind (what a great movie that would have made!). Brudah is basically Yorga’s servant, making sure everything is just right for his master, be it taking care of Yorga’s ‘guests’ or disposing of bodies. That’s not to say Yorga is instantly an unwelcoming host. On the contrary, Yorga is more than happy to entertain at night time even if the company he’s keeping suspect he is an actual vampire. The learned Count appears more than happy to discuss all aspects of life and those legends that have been dismissed as fairytales or horror fiction throughout the years.
Whilst COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE has a cheap and cheerful attitude, it’s quite an entertaining watch. It’s true horror doesn’t lie so much in the visuals but that of the brilliant performance from Quarry and without him in the lead as the villain, I don’t think the film would work as well as it does. Though the plot is basic, predictable and straightforward compared to other vampire films, it still retains the essence that many blood-sucker fans will no doubt enjoy.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS FOR ARROW VIDEO BLU-RAY RELEASE:
- High Definition digital transfers of both Yorga films, from original film elements by MGM
- Original mono audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary on Count Yorga, Vampire by David Del Valle
- Audio commentary on The Return of Count Yorga by David Del Valle
- Interview with critic and author Kim Newman
- Theatrical trailers
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- First pressing only: Booklet featuring new writing on the films by Frank Collins