COUNT YORBA, VAMPIRE (director/writer: Bob Kelljan; cinematographer: Arch Archambault; editor: Tony de Zarraga; music: William Marx; cast: Robert Quarry (Count Yorga), Roger Perry (Dr Jim Hays), Michael Macready (Michael Thompson), Michael Murphy (Paul), Donna Anders (Donna), Judith Lang (Erica Landers), Edward Walsh (Brudah), George Macready (Narrator), Paul Hansen (Peter), Sybil Scotford (Judy), Marsha Jordan (Donna’s mother); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: GP; producer: Michael Macready; MGM; 1970)
“Offers some fresh blood into the dried-up genre.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An AIP produced cheapie (shot for $65,000) modern-day vampire flick originally set to be a soft porn film but instead turned into a straight vampire spoof, that offers some fresh blood into the dried-up genre. Writer-director Bob Kelljan (“The Return of Count Yorga”/”Scream, Blacula, Scream!”/”Act of Vengeance”) keeps the amateur production smartly comical and urbane, as it makes a smooth transition from Transylvania to contemporary Los Angeles where it plays on the superstitions of the young yuppie locals.
Recently arrived from Bulgaria, Count Yorga (Robert Quarry), is invited into the plush suburban home of Donna (Donna Anders), where he conducts a seance with Donna’s boyfriend Michael (Michael Macready) and either four or five others. The reason for the medium is to connect Donna with her mother in the afterworld, who died three weeks ago. Mom’s boyfriend was the sinister looking caped Count, a suspicious cat for sure. During the seance Donna becomes hysterical and the Count calms her with hypnosis, whereby he puts a spell on her to possess her soul. Seance guests Erica (Judith Lang) and Paul (Michael Murphy) drive the Count home to his eerie Victorian Mansion, where they are greeted at the gate by the ghoulish servant Brudah (Edward Walsh) who is holding back a snarling German shepherd. Once inside the premises and saying goodnight to the Count, Paul’s camper strangely gets stuck in the mud and they have to remain in the long wooded driveway of the Count’s house for the entire night. At that time the couple is attacked and blackout. In the morning Erica discovers two bite marks on her neck and is suffering from a severe loss of blood. Paul brings her to the office of Dr. Jim Hayes (Roger Perry), a blood specialist in research, who soon determines that this Yorga character must be a vampire when her blood sample comes back with vampire’s venom. When the cops refuse to help and Erica and Paul turn up missing, Dr. Hayes and Michael pay the Count a visit armed with a stake made from a broom handle and a cross, and get the shock of their lives at what they find in the mansion’s gothic basement.
It had value as a cult film back in the 1970s and proved popular with theatergoers as a sleeper hit, but today all the faint humor and gruesome killings (such as Erica munching on some live cats) don’t work—it all seems so trite and stale, as the film’s novelty has faded. Also it’s filled with too much talk explaining the vampire film lore, something the audiences nowadays are thoroughly hip to. What holds up is the solid performance by Robert Quarry as the sophisticated vampire, who is dead set on taking a few undead pretty brides to live with him forever.
REVIEWED ON 5/20/2008 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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