Monday, August 20, 2018

Short Attention Span Review: Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

Short Attention Span Review:  Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

Count Yorga, Vampire is an underrated vampire flick from 1970 that succeeds for the same reasons that it isn't more noteworthy.  It is a bit of a medley, and while this makes it unique for a sub-genre where there is most definitely a mold, it also means that it is a bit too loose in some respects.  First off, you have Count Yorga as played by Robert Quarry, who is a typical suave vamp with a royal demeanor until it's time to feed.  Then he becomes quite a beast, and Quarry does a fine job of embodying both aspects of this fanged fiend.  Then you have the setting, which is very, very 70s, with an emphasis on loose cats looking for a good time and spreading the love.  Finally, you have the tone of the picture, which often veers toward the sort of raw footage approach that would make Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel so real a mere four years later.  While it doesn't reach that level of terror, the yield is also positive here, and at times Count Yorga, Vampire feels less like a Dracula clone and more like a gritty slasher flick, with the sort of intensity and bloodlust that makes such fare so vivid.  Finally, you have an emphasis on the sensual side of vampire folklore, though it never feels like softcore and again veers toward slasher flick territory.  While these various pieces may feel like a bizarre combo, I think that Count Yorga, Vampire works more often than not in spite of some serious flaws in character logic and some acting and cinematography that is, well, less than stellar.  In my opinion, it is still worth watching for Quarry's performance alone, and those seeking a vampire story that has some of that classic feel while also presenting the folklore with a primal side and a bit of a mean streak won't find many better options.  Finally, while it is telegraphed, the ending has some serious bite, and definitely stands as a fine example of the darkness and the sense of despair that so often defined 70s cinema.

Final Grade:  C+

For my money, Robert Quarry's work as Count Yorga ranks right up there with the likes of Christopher Lee, Chris Sarandon, and even Bela Lugosi--though Gary Oldman will always be king of this particular mountain.

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