The Return of Count Yorga is being released on Limited Edition Blu-ray on October 24, 2022, loaded with special features:
Brand new 2K restorations by Arrow Films of Count Yorga, Vampire and The Return of Count Yorga from new 4K scans of the original 35mm camera negatives
High Definition Blu-Ray (1080p) presentations of both films
Original lossless mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Illustrated perfect bound collector’s book featuring new writing by film critic Kat Ellinger and horror author Stephen Laws, plus archive contributions by critic Frank Collins and filmmaker Tim Sullivan
Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Heather Vaughan
Fold-out double-sided posters for both films featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Heather Vaughan
Twelve double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards
Reproduction pressbook for Count Yorga, Vampire
DISC ONE – COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE
Brand new audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas
Archival audio commentary by film critics David Del Valle & C. Courtney Joyner
The Count in California, a brand new appreciation by Heather Drain and Chris O’Neill
I Remember Yorga, a brand new interview with Frank Darabont in which the award-winning filmmaker talks about his love for Count Yorga, Vampire
A Vampire in L.A., a brand new interview with actor Michael Murphy
Fangirl Radio Tribute to Robert Quarry, an archival episode featuring host Jessica Dwyer in conversation with Tim Sullivan filmmaker, Yorga fan and friend of Robert Quarry
Theatrical trailer Radio spots
DISC TWO – THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA
Brand new audio commentary by film critic Stephen R. Bissette
Archival audio commentary by David Del Valle & C. Courtney Joyner
The Count and the Counterculture, a brand new interview with film critic Maitland McDonagh
Chamber-music of Horrors, a brand new interview with David Huckvale about the scores for both films
Archival interview with film critic Kim Newman
Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of the movie:
The Return of Count Yorga is a 1971 American horror film in which the titular vampire continues to prey on his local Californian community. He preys upon the staff of an orphanage and also intends to take a new wife while supporting his female vampire followers.
Directed by Bob Kelljan (Act of Vengeance; Scream Blacula Scream; Count Yorga, Vampire; Flesh of My Flesh) from a screenplay co-written by Yvonne Wilder. Produced by Michael Macready.
The Return of Count Yorga is a much slicker affair, but also a much tamer one. There is no suggestion here of curtailed sex scenes – in fact, there’s no sex at all, and the violence is equally restrained. Clearly, this was designed as a PG-rated horror from the start, and while some PG horror of the era was surprisingly subversive and nasty (the US censors had a rather blase attitude to horror at the time) this isn’t. That said, the film looks a lot better, even if it still suffers from an overly leisurely pace.
It’s a film that opens with an iconic visual moment – arms thrust out from grassy graves, and vampire women rising from the dead to attack a young boy. This is atmospheric, creepy and unsettling and the vampires feel more like zombies than the glamorous undead – a definite Night of the Living Dead influence at work. Yorga – who is mysteriously revived, alongside servant Brudah, without explanation – has moved in next door to an orphanage, with the seeming intention of preying on the children while corrupting women and replenishing his collection of brides. But when he meets teacher Cynthia (Mariette Hartley), he unexpectedly falls in love. In an impressively shocking scene, he sends his brides to slaughter Cynthia’s family, as he kidnaps her and puts her under his spell.
After this, the film becomes a mix of the first movie – Roger Perry returns, playing a different character (Cynthia’s fiancé David) with similar convictions (again, he tries to convince the police and colleague that Yorga is a vampire) – and the ‘romantic vampire’ trope that we also saw in the vaguely similar Blacula films (the second of which was also directed by Yorga helmer Bob Kelljan). This results in a rather uneven story, with not very much happening in the middle of the film. However, it builds to a suitably frantic – and, in keeping with the first film, bleak – ending.
The acting is better all around here – Hartley is an impressive female lead, Perry’s character is more rounded and motivated, and the supporting cast is all fairly solid. And visually, the film has a real atmosphere – the siege and attack early on are genuinely creepy and shocking. You do wish, however, that a little more effort was made in terms of continuity and consistency. A year is not that long – does it really make sense to have the same actor appear in a different role? Surely the available talent pool wasn’t that small. This, and the rather vague resurrection of Yorga and his entourage (something to do with ‘Santa Ana Winds’) leaves a lot to be desired.
David Flint, guest reviewer via The Reprobate
“Some of the signature horror effects of the first film are reused with variations – a slow-motion Yorga attack as Quarry runs open-mouthed down a corridor, a fanged freeze-frame downer at the finish – but Kelljan and company work hard to come up with fresh, unsettling business.” The Kim Newman Web Site
“Both the first and Return are more entertaining than the lesser of the Hammer output, that’s for sure. Yorga himself is no Christopher Lee, but he’s fine enough and really makes these work. This second film, while maybe a little looser and rougher than the first, I think is better in terms of horror entertainment offerings.” Why So Blu?
” …a dull, amateurish vampire brew” The New York Times
“Persons familiar with the original will find the sequel better photographed, better acted and containing more mayhem a minute.” Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune
“Those who saw Count Yorga will be disappointed. Those who only see The Return will wonder what all the fuss was about in regard to the original. In the first film, comedy gave way to terror; in this self-conscious sequel, the two elements tend to cancel each other out. The result is a pretty silly show.” Los Angeles Times
David Pirie of British Film Institute’s Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that Count Yorga had been resurrected “with considerably more enterprise and panache than before.” He praised the acting as being “of a generally high standard” and the castle set as “skilfully utilised to give the impression of a labyrinth of Borgesian proportions,” though he criticized “a totally unnecessary and feeble attempt to make the Count into a sympathetic figure through such lines as ‘The most fragile emotion ever known has entered my breast.”
” …a solid follow-up” to the original […] a handsome-looking film which rings the bell on both the shocker and satirical level.” Variety
In one scene, Yorga is seen watching a Spanish-language version of the AIP-Hammer film The Vampire Lovers on television.
Cast and characters:
Robert Quarry … Count Yorga
Mariette Hartley … Cynthia Nelson
Roger Perry … Dr David Baldwin
Yvonne Wilder … Jennifer Nelson
Tom Toner … Rev. Thomas Westwood Orphanage
Rudy De Luca … Lt. Madden
Philip Frame … Tommy
George Macready … Prof Rightstat
Walter Brooke … Bill Nelson
Edward Walsh … Brudda – Yorga’s Valet
Craig T. Nelson … Sgt. O’Connor
David Lampson … Jason – Ellen’s Boyfriend
Karen Ericson … Ellen Nelson
Helen Baron … Mrs Marcia Nelson
Jesse Welles … Mitzi Carthay
Michael Pataki … Joey
Corinne Conley … Witch
Peg Shirley … Claret Farmer
Liz Rogers … Laurie Greggs
Paul Hansen … Jonathan Greggs
MOVIES and MANIA rating: