Count Yorga, Vampire is a 1970 American supernatural horror movie directed by Bob Kelljan and starring Robert Quarry.
It was followed by a sequel, The Return of Count Yorga. American International Pictures had planned at one stage to revive Count Yorga as an adversary for Vincent Price’s villain character in Doctor Phibes Rises Again. However, this plan was dropped.
Quarry later played another vampire, the messianic Khorda in 1973’s Deathmaster, which is often confused with the Yorga films because AIP picked up the distribution rights and began using the term “The Deathmaster” to promote the Yorga sequel, The Return of Count Yorga.
A truck is loaded at the Port of Los Angeles, and as it climbs to a gated mansion in the California hills the cargo is revealed to be a coffin.
Donna hosts a séance in hopes of contacting her recently deceased mother. At the party are several of her friends and Yorga, a mysterious Bulgarian mystic who performs the séance. Donna becomes hysterical during the proceedings, and Yorga uses hypnosis to calm her.
After the party is over, Erica and her boyfriend Paul offer to drive the Count home. Experiencing car trouble outside of Yorga’s mansion (though Paul notices the road was dry a minute ago), the two resign themselves to spending the night in their van. Yorga watches the couple enjoy coitus, then attacks them…
“It makes for an unusually good update of the basic Dracula plot, and Robert Quarry is an excellent Old-World vampire. Indeed, it’s rather a shame Universal didn’t use him instead of Frank Langella when they remade Dracula nine years later. The story has one major defect, in that everyone seems far too ready to accept the notion of a literal vampire showing up in 20th-century America, but for the most part, it is able to rise above this weakness and deliver on a number of fronts.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“The film packs some decent scares, with several legitimately creepy scenes and shots throughout. Quarry is pretty terrifying to behold when in full vampire mode, and jump scares and freeze frames are used effectively with style.” Austin Vashaw, Cinapse
“Generally Kelljan paces the movie reasonably well. The film is certainly well shot and it also benefits from a really strong musical score. The modern setting helps to differentiate this from so many of its predecessors and while there are some scenes that are a little too talky for their own good for the most part Count Yorga, Vampire is a film that hits all the right notes at mostly all the right moments.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!
“Quarry is properly seductive and regal, though his harem of converts and a wardrobe that only a Vegas lounge lizard could love are more humorous than they once were. If the sight of an aristocratic vampire riding in a VW minibus is odd, the whole effort is more successful than the Hammer attempts to bring Dracula into the present.” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide
“… the anxiety is fairly straightforward: sexually active young people, reaping the pleasurable benefits of the swinging sixties and seventies, are having trouble with a scarier kind of sex that keeps popping up – here represented by Count Yorga, an elegant, older, unattached man who presides over a big house full of antiques, wearing pancake makeup and sweeping dressing gowns – the stereotypical “gay” cues are unmistakable.” David J. Skal, V is for Vampire: The A – Z Guide to Everything Undead
“The low-key treatment offsets authentically nasty moments like that in which Lang is discovered devouring a cat, and Quarry … cuts a commanding figure.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“It gains points for taking itself seriously and treating vampirism traditionally. Unfortunately, it takes so long to explain itself that by the time we get to the action we are too bored to care. Many tedious scenes are wasted on Figuring Things Out. There’s no heroine and scarcely a hero until halfway through.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
Working titles were The Loves of Count Iorga; The Abominable Count Yorga and Vampire Today.