Halloween, Horror, Horror Classic, Monsters, Vampire

Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

0 Comments 04 November 2010

Count Yorga, Vampire, 1970

American International Pictures / MGM Studios
Theatrical Release Date: 1970
Director: Bob Kelljan

Review by James Klien

Before vampires became sexy and cool, they used to be scary. Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee did it best but every once in awhile a vampire film would pop up that would surprise me at how good it was. Count Yorga, Vampire is one of those films.

The film starts off with a bunch of young friends performing a séance done by a count that they hired. They want to communicate with one of the young women’s dead mother. The count is charming and kind but there is a certain mystery about him. That night, when one of the couple’s car breaks down, he attacks them, biting one of them. When their friend starts to act strange (like eating her cat) they call on a doctor who believes in vampires to help defeat the count who they know is behind this. This very basic plot is more or less a re-telling of the Dracula story set in modern times. But the film plays very well thanks to its creepy atmosphere and for me, it’s 70’s setting. Why are 70’s movies more scarier than other films? Maybe it’s just me but those films have always been scarier than anything made before or after. There is a scene in a van where Count Yorga attacks a couple outside his castle. You’ve seen this kind of scene before in other films where it’s either a serial killer or monster but the direction, music, writing all work so much better here that it is a truly frightening scene. What really makes the film stand out is actor Robert Quary as Count Yorga. He is suave and yet menacing and has a certain ego where he knows he can kick your ass and there is nothing you can do about it. Even with the white make up and cheap fangs, he was kind of creepy.

What I also like about the film is that there are touches of humor that work well. Nothing over the top or silly but little touches here and there that made me think of the kind of humor that was in An American Werewolf in London. Any film that makes me think of that great masterpiece is ok in my book.

At a tight 93 minutes, this film goes by fast. I found the film really well done even for its low budget. Count Yorga, Vampire would make for a good rainy Saturday afternoon movie or a decent Halloween selection. The film is followed by The Return of Count Yorga which I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.

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