THE COUNT YORGA COLLECTION
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.