Monday, August 29, 2016

#2,188. Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

Directed By: Bob Kelljan

Starring: Robert Quarry, Roger Perry, Michael Murphy

Tag line: "Tall, Dark, And Deadly"

Trivia: The movie was originally conceived as a low-budget soft-core porno movie

Hoping to get in touch with her recently deceased mother, Donna (Donna Anders), along with her boyfriend Michael (Michael MacReady), invites over the mysterious Count Yorga (Robert Quarry), an immigrant from Bulgaria and her late mother’s boyfriend, to perform a séance. With the couple’s friends Paul (Michael Murphy) and Erica (Judy Lang) looking on, the Count begins the séance, only to be interrupted by an out-of-control Donna, who shouts and screams bloody murder until the Count finally puts her under hypnosis. Once the ceremony ends, Paul and Erica give Count Yorga a lift home, and afterwards find themselves stranded in his driveway when their van breaks down. Deciding to spend the night right where they are, the two are eventually attacked by an unseen assailant, who knocks Paul unconscious and bites Erica on the neck, draining a good bit of her blood.

The next morning, Erica is treated by Dr. Hayes (Roger Perry), a good friend of the group’s whose specialty is blood research. When a test reveals some strange bacteria in Erica’s bloodstream, Dr. Hayes comes to the reluctant conclusion that she was bitten by Count Yorga, who is most likely a vampire. His initial attempt to convince Paul and Michael of this fact doesn’t go well, but later that night, when Erica disappears from her bed, Paul calls Michael and tells him he’s driving out to the Count’s mansion to look for her. When neither Paul nor Erica can be found, Michael and Donna, along with Dr. Hayes, pay a visit to the Count, and attempt to keep him talking until sunrise, to see if he is, indeed, a vampire (the Count, growing restless, excuses himself minutes before the sun comes up). Now certain of Count Yorga’s true nature, Dr. Hayes and Michael make plans to visit him during the day (when he’s asleep) and, if possible, end his reign of terror. But what they don’t know is the Count has also set his sights on Donna, and intends to add her to his collection of vampiric bride. 

In essence a retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula updated for a 1970’s audience, writer / director Bob Kelljan’s Count Yorga, Vampire is a nice mix of old and new, maintaining the original story’s gothic feel while at the same time adding some blood and even a little sex (suggested, anyway.. there’s no nudity in the film whatsoever). As the title character, Robert Quarry continues the fine work of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee by making the Count a dashing, yet extremely dangerous man (when Paul arrives at the mansion to search for Erica, we find out just how dangerous the Count is). 

With Dr. Hayes, who’s well portrayed by Roger Perry, Count Yorga, Vampire also has its own version of Van Helsing (though he’s not as familiar with the dark arts as his more famous counterpart, Dr. Hayes does know enough to make him a serious threat to Yorga’s well-being); and the Count’s brides (Marsha Jordan, Deborah Darnell) also make an appearance, looking every bit as feral as the ladies in Hammer’s Dracula series. Count Yorga even has an evil henchman, the deformed Brudah (Edward Walsh), who at one point gets too familiar with one of the ladies.

Featuring some effective jump scares, a few shocking moments (including one unforgettable scene with a kitten), and a sinister performance by Robert Quarry in the title role, Count Yorga, Vampire proves to be one of the better Dracula adaptations, not to mention an excellent reminder of just how spooky this time-honored story can be when told by the right people.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Well, this brings back memories! I saw "Count Yorga, Vampire" in the late 1970s on a Halloween Triple Bill with "The House that Screamed" and "Munsters, Go Home." This was at the Castle Theatre in New Castle, Indiana. The place was packed! A lot of people dressed up in their Halloween attire and there were prizes for best costumes. Everybody loaded up on popcorn and candy. There was so much screaming you could barely hear the movies. It was awesome! The place was a horrifying mess by the time it was all over.

I'm sorry to say I don't remember the plot of "Count Yorga," but I do remember getting quite a jolt from the end of "The House that Screamed"!