Released as part of Arrow’s The Complete Count Yorga DVD and Blu-ray editions packed full of bloodletting extras the first of the two Count Yorga films is a 70’s set reimagining of the timeless Bram Stoker tale which ups the sex factor to full affect.
Confusingly also known as The Loves Of Count Iorga, Vampire the titlatur count played by Robert Quarry (who is unable to decide how to spell his own name it seems) is introduced in the credits arriving in L.A in a coffin on a cargo ship where he is picked up and driven to his new home reflecting Stoker’s original all be it with more sun than Whitby ever had.
During this sequence we hear a sinister narration from classic character actor George Macready regaling the audience with details of vampirism and the powers these undead creatures posses ending by saying that although many may not believe if you accept even one small piece of superstition into your life than you except all including vampires.
In the next scene we find ourselves in the midst of a séance lead by the enigmatic Count Yorga for Donna (Donna Anders) who has recently lost her mother and attended by her boyfriend Michal (played by George Macready’s son Michael) and her friends including Erica (Judy Lang) and her skeptical boyfriend Paul (Michael Murphy).
The amassed group mock the proceedings at first but have a change of heart when Donna becomes hysterical having witnessed something horrific and seemingly supernatural. With no one able to calm her Count Yorga steps in hypnotizing her not only to forget what she saw but also unbeknownst to the group to obey his every instruction.
Offering the Count a lift home in their camper van Erica and Paul get stuck when leaving the Count’s land in a bog that materializes from nowhere. Deciding to spend the night and have some fun in the process little do they realise that the fang toothed immortal is on the prowl desperate to add another mistress to his harem of darkness.
On a very basic level writer and director Bob Kelljan, who also made Scream Blacula Scream, offers an updated version of the classic Dracula legend that had even by this point already be retold more times than the vampire lord himself had had liquid lunches.
Universal’s 1931 Dracula set a very distinct mold which many movies subsequently simply copied until Hammer came along in 1958 and added in a massive dose of gore and nudity in lurid color no less to restarted the juices of a stale genre flowing.
Oddly Count Yorga, Vampire seems to be a combination of the two classic films mixing the gothic look and stylings of the Universal movie with an over sexualized Hammer feel pitting the mighty masculine all American Michael and Paul and their Van Helsing substitute Dr. Hayes (Roger Perry) against the calculating and captivating fiendish foreigner for the lives and love of the passive and pitiful female characters who portrayed in the film as nothing more than victims.
Sadly Count Yorga, Vampire has little else to offer and brings nothing new to the genre unlike later vampire films of the period such as 1972’s extremely entertaining Blaxploitation cult flick Blacula or the amazing George Romero directed Martin from 1977 and the film feels lackluster and lazy with very few scares or laughs to keep the viewer’s attention.
For Dracula devotees and 70’s horror lovers only Count Yorga, Vampire is unfortunately not worth getting out of your coffin for.