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Count Yorga (1970)

by on 2011/08/24

“Ok, your ass isn’t huge.”

* * *

I don’t know what I was expecting from Count Yorga – maybe a campy Austin Powers with fangs. 

The cover art was definitely campy. On my DVD cover the Count was wearing a blue-purple crushed velvet jacket. Check out this other one. Yes, that one, right over there.

What would you think?

They even played the Count Yorga score on Kansas Public Radio’s Retro Cocktail Hour. I was expecting a swinging vampire surrounded by babes in jumpsuits. Maybe a few lava lamps.

Instead, in an early scene, I saw a woman biting a kitten. Correction: the pale, semi-undead lady was chomping on a kitten.

Sure, the kitten was ok, really just mildly inconvenienced. Overall however, it was not groovy.

Count Yorga (Robert Quarry) is a coiffed fancy man in a three-piece suit with a wide array of velvet and velveteen garments in his fancy-man closet. We meet him right away, acting as a clairvoyant for a woman who wishes to connect with the spirit of her recently-deceased mother.

Oh yes, and Count Yorga was also the deceased woman’s new boyfriend – her boyfriend just before she died. Curiouser and curiouser.

Oh, who am I kidding? There’s no mystery here. When it is revealed the Count has recently arrived from Bulgaria, everyone knows he’s a vampire straight off. “Bulgaria …it all fits,” declares the doctor (Roger Perry), called in to treat all the ladies with bite marks on their necks.

There’s no mystery but there are some sudden frights, gross-out moments and plenty of ladies with ample er, lung capacities.

The Count’s amassing a trio of brides – one blonde, one redhead and one brunette – all with impressive fun bags. Their boyfriends and a few other folks try to stop the Count but he’s got really pointy teeth and a facially-deformed man servant named Brudah (Edward Walsh). Count Yorga just laughs as the hapless men in v-necked sweaters and matching slacks break into his Los Angeles-based castle.

Yes, I know it sounds funny but it really isn’t. Sure there’s a love scene in an orange VW van, vampire women with prodigious gazongas, Count Yorga with the hair of an undead Liberace. And sure, most of the wobbly shots look like they were filmed by a Stage 4 alcoholic who sold his tripod for bourbon.  All of this doesn’t matter. This film takes itself deadly seriously.

There are things to recommend it. Yes, the women are lovely. The narrator of the piece, George Macready, the film great known for his work in Rita Hayworth’s Gilda and war classic Tora! Tora! Tora!, lends some additional gravitas to this already darned serious 70s vampire flick.

But if you wanted light, vampiric camp, Count Yorga’s not your velveteen vamp. Remember the kitten.

* * *

90 minutes

Rated PG-13 for kitten-biting violence and nudity (huge sweater puppies)

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