Cal­i­for­nia Scream­ing

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 1970/1971 | 15 | Blu-ray/dVd Di­rec­tor Bob Kell­jan Cast robert Quarry, Ma­ri­ette Hart­ley, roger Perry, Michael Mur­phy

It sounds like a range of faux-de­signer jew­ellery pimped by a thickly-ac­cented huck­ster on QVC – “The Count Yorga col­lec­tion! The most ex­quis­ite sil­ver-plated lock­ets from Eastern Europe!” – but this dou­ble-header fi­nally brings two cher­ished, in­flu­en­tial ’70s vam­pire films to Blu-ray.

Orig­i­nally pitched as a skin-flick, Count Yorga, Vam­pire ex­ports the Bavar­ian blood-chaser to con­tem­po­rary Cal­i­for­nia, mix­ing scar­let-lined cloaks and the coun­ter­cul­ture in a man­ner Ham­mer would quickly ape with Drac­ula AD 1972. For all his clas­sic trim­mings Yorga’s a preda­tor for the age of the Man­son mur­ders – he preys on peo­ple in VW cam­per vans – and helmer Bob Kell­jan’s fond­ness for hand-held cam­er­a­work gives the es­sen­tially creaky tale a cer­tain edgy en­ergy. A scene where a woman munches on a dead kit­ten still feels trans­gres­sive.

Fast-tracked se­quel The Re­turn Of Count Yorga re­lo­cates the ac­tion to San Fran­cisco. Sidelin­ing the Count in favour of his weaponised brides, it has the look and feel of a TV movie but it feels richer than the orig­i­nal, adding a sense of gothic melan­choly as well as some sly meta hu­mour (at one point we catch Yorga watch­ing Ham­mer’s The Vam­pire Lovers on TV).

Yes, the un­dead pro­tag­o­nist is Drac­ula by any other name, but star Robert Quarry is ter­rific, a silky, crys­tal-eyed rake with a great line in aris­to­cratic dis­dain, suave as a tai­lored cape.

Ex­tras Com­men­taries by film his­to­rian David Del Valle and film­maker Court­ney Joyner; “An Ap­pre­ci­a­tion By Kim New­man” – a three-minute riff about the Yorga movies de­liv­ered in en­gag­ing, in­formed style by the hor­ror maven; galleries; trail­ers; col­lec­tor’s book­let. Nick Setch­field

An aban­doned movie pro­posal would have teamed Yorga with Vin­cent Price’s eter­nally abom­inable Dr Phibes.

He al­ways lost it when guests for­got to take their shoes off.

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