Movie Name: Count Yorga, Vampire
Studio: Erica Productions Inc.
Release Date(s): June 10, 1970
MPAA Rating: R
Donna (Donna Anders) has recently lost her mother and with her friends by her side, she’s about to perform a séance helmed by a Bulgarian named Count Yorga (Robert Quarry). When Paul (Michael Murphy) and Erica (Judy Lang) take Yorga back to his mansion, they are the first to fall victim to Yorga’s powers leaving Erica with the thirst for blood. Attracting the attention of Dr. Hayes (Roger Perry), Hayes realizes that there might be a vampire in Los Angeles and that Count Yorga must be stopped!
Written and directed by Bob Kelljan, Count Yorga, Vampire was also known as The Loves of Count Iorga, Vampire (and the title card still often says this). The film was originally conceived as an erotic vampire thriller and then bumped down to straight horror which caused challenges with the ratings boards.
Count Yorga always seemed like a pretty generic vampire movie to me. With some exceptions, vampires weren’t very scary to me growing up (though that kid at the window in Salem’s Lot terrified me). I do like the ’70s vibe of Count Yorga, Vampire, but I do have some story issues.
The story basically is set-up as a modern day Dracula story. One of the women is suddenly “infected” and a thrall of Yorga and that infection begins to spread through her. The doctor Hayes is essentially the Harker character as the other characters race to save Donna. The story changes a bit in that the ending is less optimistic with Donna not being saved and all the “heroes” being killed. Unfortunately, it is rather slow paced getting there.
A vampire movie generally hinges on the lead vampire. Bela Lugosi made Dracula and Christopher Lee ruled the Hammer films. Robert Quarry is over the top as the foreign Count Yorga who is the worst card player in the history of vampires. He might as well wear a shirt that says “I’m a Vampire” because he really can’t keep the secret from anyone…I don’t know how he survived so long (and he boasts about how smart he is).
Visually, the movie that gritty look I like from the period. It is rather low budget, but the style of the movie and the shots used also add to the horror. The movie has some left over aspects of the plans to make it a softcore porn but scenes like the eating of the cat (which was tranquilized and covered in lasagna) still are rather chilling.
Count Yorga, Vampire is a fun ’70s horror film. There are a few near jumps, but movies were already getting edgier than this entry (like Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead). The movie kind of shows a bridge tween the ’60s horror and horror of the ’70s. Count Yorga (despite being obliterated at the end of the film) was resurrected the next year in The Return of Count Yorga.
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