Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) starring Robert Quarry
Count Yorga, Vampire begins with a coffin being unloaded from a ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles, which is then driven to a mansion in the California hills. While a narrator says:
A vampire, in ancient belief, was a spirit who, when the earth lost its sunlight, rose nightly from its dark grave to suck blood from throats of the living. Its powers are many. It could see in the dark, which was no small ability in a world half veiled from light. Its hypnotic skills baffled the domain of science. It was of a cunning more than mortal, for its cunning was a growth of ages, since it could not die by the mere passing of time. It had to have been by a wooden stake driven deep into its heart or exposure to the rays of the sun, which would instantly decompose its body into a miasma of putrid decay. The believers of this superstition referred to vampires as “the living dead”. I seem to be making use of the past tense. Perhaps the present will be more precise for it stands to reason that, if one is superstitious, even at a small, seemingly-insignificant level, one must be vulnerable to all superstitions conceivably even those of vampires.
Later, the audience sees a “psychic” performing a seance, trying to contact the spirit of Donna’s (Donna Anders) recently departed mother. After a false start, the small group tries again. And the lights go out as Donna begins screaming hysterically. Count Yorga, the “psychic” offers to help her, and with the aid of a lit candle, he helps her to calm down … And hypnotizes her, and puts her under his psychic control as well. The lights magically come back on, and Donna — per the Count’s hypnotic suggestion — has forgotten everything that’s occurred at the seance. Count Yorga has to leave, and one of the young couples, Paul and Erica, from the seance offers to give him a ride in their VW van. This is set in the 1970’s after all.
It’s revealed to the audience that Count Yorga was the boyfriend of Donna’s mother for a few weeks before her death, and talked Donna out of cremating her mother. They arrive at Count Yorga’s home, where an odd-looking man working for the Count, Brudah, with a German shepherd, greets them. And after dropping the Count off, the van soon gets stuck in the mud — even though the road was dry when they arrived. The young couple “make out” in the van, and afterward, Paul walks outside, where he appears to be followed. Because, who wouldn’t wait in their van all night when it’s stuck in the mud, rather than finding help? Later, the clearly vampiric Count Yorga enters the van, and “visits” Erica.
The following day, Erica sees a doctor (Roger Perry) — she’s suffering from blood loss, and has two puncture wounds on her neck, and has no memories of how it happened. Interspersed with these scenes are the two boyfriends, who are talking about the suspicious happenings — with good cinematography making an otherwise boring exposition interesting viewing. Paul calls Erica, who drops the phone — and whose home is a mess. Paul and Mike go to see what’s happened to Erica, only to find her feasting … on her kitten. They call Dr. Hayes, who gives her a blood transfusion from Paul. Erica is sad and despondent, as Dr. Hayes questions her about her condition … and the wounds on her throat.
Back at Count Yorga’s mansion, we see the creepy Count observe as two female victims rise off their slabs and embrace each other. The scene shifts back to the doctor and the boyfriends, as the doctor reveals that he’s suspecting that a vampire is a work. The night, Count Yorga visits Erica — partially undressed. And with his cheesy vampire fangs, bites her again, and soon the pair is gone. Paul calls the doctor, who gets out of bed. Leaving his girlfriend behind, who tells him the story of a vampire attack that she read about in the paper. The doctor calls the police, who unsurprisingly don’t believe him.
Dr. Hayes and Mike return to Yorga’s house just after sunset, due to them both oversleeping.Armed with stakes and crosses made from an old chair, they split up, with Mike looking for Donna and Dr. Hayes goes to confront Count Yorga. Unfortunately, Count Yorga finds Dr. Hayes first and leads him to the basement where he finds Erica, Donna’s mother, and a third vampiress lying on slabs.
Count Yorga admits to him that he is a vampire. While Hayes holds him back with his cross and stake, the vampiresses awaken. They sneak up behind him and drain his blood while Dr. Hayes is powerless, and calls out for Mike. Meanwhile, Mike has stumbled upon the corpse of Paul, who is ash white and dying from blood loss, having been drained by the vampires. Mike meets up with Brudah, and after a short fight, he manages to stab Brudah several times in the abdomen. Mike then finds Dr. Hayes lying on the floor in the basement. With his dying breath, he tells him that Donna is upstairs with her mother.
As Mike turns to go upstairs, he is rushed by Erica and the other vampiress. Mike waves his stake at them, and the unnamed vampiress flees, but Erica remains. Unable to stake his former friend, Mike continues on upstairs past the injured Brudah. Where he confronts Yorga and Donna’s mother with his stake. Count Yorga “courageously” pushes Donna’s mother onto Mike’s stake and rushes from the room. Mike breaks the stake in half and follows Count Yorga. The Count rushes at Mike and accidentally impales himself, with a grossly melodramatic death scene.
In the final scene, Mike helps Donna downstairs, passing Yorga’s body — now a pile of dust — on the way. They are rushed by Erica and the other vampiress, but Mike holds them at bay with his home-made cross. He backs them into a room, locking them inside. He then collapses against the wall and turns to see Donna lunging at him, her fangs bared. And after a cheesy moment from the narrator, the credits roll.
Count Yorga, Vampire was originally going to be a soft porn movie, and it shows; when watching it on cable TV recently, there were a great many moments of blurred-out cleavage. It’s not kid-friendly by any stretch, and it’s rated PG-13 for a reason. In other areas, the acting is mediocre. Although I have to say that the cinematography was above average, and several moments of special effects that were quite good. There were several odd things that stuck out, such as:
- why a vampiress would flee from a waved stick
- why would vampires die after being stabbed in the abdomen?
It’s at best an average vampire movie.
Editorial review of Count Yorga, Vampire courtesy of Amazon.com
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 film’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
Movie quotes from Count Yorga, Vampire
Count Yorga: Perhaps I’ll have a little snack later on.
Count Yorga: Doctor Hayes, what an unexpected surprise.
Dr. James Hayes: Yes, so much so that I almost had a massive coronary