The Dracula legend gets a suavely competent makeover in this 1970 bloodsucker, bringing vampirism to present-day Los Angeles with a harem of semi-clad females and the sharp casting of Robert Quarry in the title role. The f... more »ilm's original title (The Loves of Count Iorga, Vampire) is perhaps more fitting, since it's really about how Quarry--posing as a Bulgarian psychic medium--seduces his female clients into neck-bitten submission. The victims' abandoned boyfriends (including Michael Murphy, who costarred in M*A*S*H the same year) recruit a vampire-hunting doctor (Roger Perry) to track Yorga down (with wooden stakes made from a broomstick, no less), and the body count rises predictably. Dry performances and tepid dialogue don't help much, but the then-modern setting and intelligent plotting make Count Yorga worthy of its 1971 sequel. It's not as stylish as Christopher Lee's Hammer films, but it's certainly not anemic. --Jeff Shannon« less
"Written and directed by Bob Kelljan, who later directed episodes on various 70's TV shows like Starsky and Hutch, Dukes of Hazzard, and Charlie's Angels, Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), aka The Loves of Count Iorga (not a misspelling), did extremely well when it opened.
The movie starts off with a scene of a large cargo ship sitting at a dock off some California coast, and a large, coffin shaped crate being loaded on a truck. As the truck drives away, we are treated to voice over that sounds like a mix between Ricardo Montalban and Harvey Fierstein talking about the vampire mythos. The truck continues until it comes to a secluded driveway with a large gate. Next we go to a séance in progress, being conducted by Count Yorga, who, if you're familiar with the title of the movie, is a vampire. He ends up secretly putting the whammy on one of the women present, and then gets a ride home from a couple in their VW minibus...I have to say, it was kind of funny seeing this young couple and the aristocratic Eastern European (we learn that the Count came to America from Bulgaria) and very sophisticated Count crammed into the front bench seat of a minibus. Anyway, the couple drops the Count off after declining his offer to come into his home, and they get stuck in some mud along the Count's long driveway. This starts a five-minute discussion about mud. Where did the mud come from? How did we miss it come in? How come the rest of the ground is dry? Blah, blah, blah...it's scenes like this that really dragged this movie down. I guess, among the Count's other supernatural powers, creating wind and lighting, manipulating objects with his mind, mind control over animals and humans, super natural strength, he can also create mud. After hearing a wolf howl, the couple decides not to trek back to the Count's house but to spend the night in the minibus, and after a little lovin' in the back of the van, they are soon visited by a dark stranger (two guesses who). As the movie progresses, the Count takes a couple of women (Count Yorga needs women!) in the way vampires do, and the men begin to suspect something is wrong, and whatever it is, it's directly linked to Count Yorga. They start throwing around the theory of vampirism, with some willing to believe once offered proof, while others refuse to accept even the possibility as they think the idea is purely a work of fiction. After much goofy dialogue, two of the men decide to take matters into their own hands and try to sneak into the castle and convince themselves that Count Yorga is a vampire. They take along a female character, as they fear to leave her alone (great idea, take her into the lair of a suspected vampire). If they are able to confirm that Count Yorga is a vampire, they intend to kill him, and their friends who have been turned, as there is no cure for bloodsucking other than a wooden stake in the heart...the last twenty minutes or so things the pace picks up pretty well, as the two men confront Count Yorga and his brides from hell. And how could I write a review about this movie without mentioning Brudah, the Count's mostly mute, brutish servant? Oh man, he is good for a few laughs...he walks around the entire movie looking like a transported cavemen in a bad sport coat and tie. I kept injecting my own lines for poor Brudah when he had none...I imagined when he spoke, each sentence would be preceded by his own name..."Brudah want woman"..."Brudah drive car"..."Brudah need shave"....
The dialog throughout the movie is rather clunky but oddly realistic at times. The actor playing Count Yorga, Robert Quarry, was the highlight of the movie, really getting into the part creating a truly believable and scary character. I vaguely recognized him, but then remembered seeing him in Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). The direction was passable, but got annoying at times, especially during scenes with conversation, as the director would make many needless cuts back and forth between characters, sometimes showing the back of a character who was speaking... there was some blood and one scene in particular, with a cat, that was pretty ugly. The one actor most will probably recognize in this film is Michael Murphy, who played the mayor in Batman Returns (1992) and has been in a few Woody Allen movies like Manhattan (1979) and The Front (1976). The scares were mostly of the cheap kind, things popping out at the viewer accompanied by a loud sound effect or startling music. The film has a 90-minute run time, but I thought some trimming would have been useful, and would have quickened the pace.
The presentation on this disc looks really great, and special features include a trailer for the film and a neat reproduction of the original movie poster on a little card on the inside of the case. Age hasn't been kind to this movie, as the dating is very apparent in the wardrobe and hairstyles of the various actors, but I think the movie is worth looking into if you are a horror movie fan, mainly for Quarry's performance. A sequel was released a couple of years later titled The Return of Count Yorga (1972).
As Good As A Vampire Movie Gets!
Chris Aitken | Manakin Sabot, Virginia United States | 07/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very well paced horror movie, great gore, and suspense. I have viewed all of the (American) classic Vampire movies, also all Hammer Vampire flicks. This is up there w/ the best of em' You will be as surprised (Pleasantly!) as I was after viewing this hidden treasure. I do not like writing reviews that give away (or give an overview) of a story. However, the scene w/ the cat is worth the price of this film!"
The start of modern vampire cinema in America !!
P. Ferrigno | Melbourne, Victoria Australia | 11/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was no secret in the early 1970's that American International Pictures were grooming Robert Quarry to take over the mantle of their number one horror star, from the ageing Vincent Price. Price was none too happy about the treatment he received from studio executive's and made his feelings felt on several occasions. One well known story has it that during the filming of "Dr Phibes Rises Again", Price heard someone singing Gershwin and looked around the corner to see Quarry in full voice. Quarry turned to Price and remarked "Vincent, you didn't know I was a singer !". To which Price replied "Well, I knew you weren't a ******* actor."However, Quarry did make a pretty decent vampire on three occasions in "Count Yorga", "The Return of Count Yorga", and the lesser known "Deathmaster"....all films being made virtually back to back ! "Count Yorga" started out as a concept from writer / director Bob Kelljan to make a soft porn style vampire film, however when he recruited Robert Quarry to play the lead, Quarry convinced him to play it straight for thrills. Keeping in line with the new age, hippie influenced culture of the 1970's, the film sees Count Yorga posing as a psychic medium and leading unsuspecting & naïve guests into his vampire clutches ! The film saw a departure from the more Hammer influenced style of vampire movie where the female underlings to Christopher Lee were buxom, attractive women. In "Count Yorga" however, the female servants of Yorga are haggard, disheveled harpies from the grave that mercilessly carry out the evil biddings of their master. Additionally, the film was noticeably more violent than Hammer's Dracula series, and shifting vampires to a contemporary setting ( as opposed to Hammer's Carpathian Mountains of the 1900's ) became the standard for vampire film's for many years to come, and definitely revitalized the declining movie fan's interest in blood suckers.Kelljan does a pretty good job of keeping the plot ticking along, and Quarry does provide some solid scares....especially the shots of him bearing down on his victims in slow motion, arms outstretched and fangs bared. Well worth a look, "Count Yorga" is an interesting piece of vampire cinema that provided the genre with much needed fresh blood."
A standard vampire movie with some brilliant moments.
Monty Moonlight | TX | 09/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's 1970, and the charismatic Count Yorga is leading a group of young people in a séance to attempt to contact the deceased mother of one of the women there. Things eventually take a dramatic turn, and we soon find the Count taking a ride home with one of the couples. Unfortunately for that couple, they will not return from Count Yorga's as they were. When Yorga unleashes his bloodlust on the lovely Erica, her boyfriend Paul turns to their friend Dr. Hayes, a blood specialist, for help. Along with Michael and Donna, another couple from the séance, the heroes (some reluctantly) agree that Yorga must be a vampire and set forth to confront him. This, of course, proves to be a very dangerous course of action. And there's not just Yorga to deal with, but his brides and his brute, Brudah.
Count Yorga may seem like a typical vampire movie by today's standards. In fact, the story is similar to most Dracula films, except for the 1970 setting. Perhaps this is due to the film originally being planned (or so I hear) to be a softcore sexploitation film (The Loves of Count Iorga) most likely attempting to spoof Christopher Lee's Hammer Horror Dracula classics. The story goes that Robert Quarry, who plays Yorga, refused to do the film unless they made it a straight-up horror piece, and that's why we have it as it is today, a reasonably good modern-day (so to speak) vampire movie with a few scenes of true genius (like the most famous bit where Miss Erica is caught dining on a cat, or the ending, which thankfully isn't the usual "heroes triumphant" stuff). Overall, it's a great addition to a real vampire movie-lover's DVD collection; a fun movie with a good cast and interesting story. If you love Hammer Dracula films, this is sort of a 1970-American take on them. The DVD includes the theatrical trailer (those are always fun), and there's a double-feature version available as well that couples it with the sequel (in fact, I believe the solo version is out of print, but obviously still in stores since I just bought it myself). The sequel is titled "Count Yorga Returns", and from what I've read, it sounds great, but I hear it is more like a parallel universe story in that it doesn't make any reference or continuation from this one. Still need to see it for myself though, but I look forward to it. "
Cat Lovers Beware!
Bindy Sue Frĝnkünschtein | under the rubble | 09/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE is a fairly run-of-the-mill offering from AIP. Still, there's something about the title character that elevates CYV above most trashy vampire epics. Robert Quarry (Count Yorga Returns, Dr. Phibes Rises Again) is the toothy, dashing count. He performs a seance, where he hipnotizes a woman named Donna, who wants to hear from her dead mother. Unknown to her, Yorga was the one who killed mum and added her to his growing harem of undead babes! After the seance, Donna's friend Erica and her husband Paul (Michael Murphy) give Yorga a ride home in their hippy-van, complete with ultra-groovy curtains! Well, they get stuck in the mud outside Yora's mansion, and like anyone else, they decide to get nekkid and do the love thing. The count shows up and invades their privacy, tossing Paul like a piece of paper and giving Erica something to remember him by! Yep, she gets the hellacious hicky of death! Later, Paul and a friend find Erica feasting on a kitten! This infamous scene is the only real icky one in the whole movie. Paul has Erica see his buddy, Dr. Hayes (Roger Perry) who happens to be a blood specialist. Now, wouldn't you take her to a psychiatrist?? Or just strap a straight-jacket on her yourself and drive her to the ha-ha-ranch?? Anyway, Dr. Hayes gives Erica a transfusion which has no real effect. Yorga comes to her at night to finish the dirty deed. Now a full-fledged vampire chick, Erica takes her place in Yorga's secret dungeon. Paul attempts a rescue, only to be squished by the count's incredibly strong servant, Bruda (who looks a lot like one of the sinister hillbillies in "Deliverence"). Meanwhile, convinced of Count Yorga's vampirism, Dr. Hayes and company go to his home for the final encounter. I liked Yorga and his evil brides too. The Dr. Hayes character isn't bad either. Ignore the 70s hairstyles / fashions and just enjoy the show! If you like modern / urban vampires, check out The "Night Stalker" or "The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (aka: Count Dracula's Vampire Brides)" as well..."