Count Yorga, Vampire
Here’s another installment featuring Joe Dante’s reviews from his stint as a critic for Film Bulletin circa 1969-1974. Our thanks to Video Watchdog and Tim Lucas for his editorial embellishments!
Familiar grade‑B horror tale delivers the grue in time-honored fashion. Minor item will serve as exploitable dualler for action, neighborhood and drive‑in situations. Rating: GP.
Any picture with a cornball title like COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE can’t be all bad, and this American International release does manage a fair share of scary moments for dedicated horror fans, which should render this minor horror item serviceable as a ballyhoo item for summer drive‑in and neighborhood dualler use. With son Michael Macready billed as producer and actor, veteran George Macready makes it a family affair by intoning the hokey opening and closing narration. Robert Quarry, a Hurd Hatfield type with a Christopher Lee profile, is the hypnotic vampire whose timeworn “I‑promise‑you‑eternal‑life” lure still proves irresistible to women.
Former actor Bob Kelljan directs his wispy script with no frills. just shaky grade B competence, bolstered somewhat by a nice contrast between the realistic modern world of freeways and kitchenettes, and the medieval otherworldliness of the vampire superstition. This is neatly evidenced by the shamefaced manner in which the inevitable doctor reticently advances his vampire theory. There’s just enough blood and suggested sex, normal and otherwise, to earn a profitable GP rating for a film with plenty of kiddie appeal. Performances by the unknown cast are okay down the line. A lonely soul given to moping around his rented mansion (which came complete with imbecile rapist gatekeeper) the Count puts a couple of young ladies Under His Power at a Seance. and then traps lovers Judith Lang and Michael Murphy in their VW bus in the woods near his home.
During the night, the girl is attacked, and the next day she seems a little pale. She also sports nasty punctures in her neck. but nobody thinks much of them until her boyfriend catches her eating a kitten. Local doctor Roger Perry diagnoses vampirism, but can’t convince the police. When Miss Lang and friend Donna Anders disappear. Murphy tracks them to the mansion, where he disappears as well. Perry and Miss Anders’ paramour Michael Macready arm themselves with makeshift crosses and wooden stakes and head fur the Count’s place. There they battle a host of lady vampires, including Miss Lang. Perry is killed, but Macready manages to turn Quarry into a gurgling pile of dust before he, too, is vampirized by Miss Anders. “Superstition’?” chuckles George Macready. “Hahahahaha!” Horror fans will note at least one scene stolen directly from HORROR OF DRACULA. Photographer Arch Archambault provides lots of shots of lightning and moonlit clouds shrouded in filmy Movielab Color, and William Marx’s music is functional. The pointy vampire fangs are credited to Master Dentalsmith.
1970. AIP (An Erica Production). Movielab Color. 91 minutes. Robert Quarry. Roger Perry, Michael Murphy, Michael Macready, Donna Anders. Produced by Michael Macready. Directed by Robert Kelljan.
COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE is currently available on VHS and DVD from MGM Home Entertainment, the disc anamorphically enhanced. Originally titled THE LOVES OF COUNT IORGA… VAMPIRE and undertaken as an Adults Only item (note Marsha Jordan as one of Yorga’s vampire brides), it was filmed straight at the 11th hour suggestion of star Robert Quarry. When the finished film was awarded an R rating by the MPAA, its acquisitor AIP (who retitled it) voluntarily removed most of the scene of Judith Lang eating her kitten to earn a GP rating. This footage has been restored to the film by MGM, along with its original onscreen title.