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Count Yorga, Vampire

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    Ian Jane
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  • Count Yorga, Vampire



    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: October, 2015.
    Director: Bob Kelljan
    Cast: Michael Murphy, Donna Anderson, Roger Perry, Robert Quarry, Michael Macready
    Year: 1970
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    AIP's 1970 film Count Yorga, Vampire (or, if you prefer, The Loves of Count Iorga, Vampire as the title card calls it) began life as a sexier take on cinematic vampirism but changed along the way into a more traditional take on the children of the night. It's interesting to think about what could have been, but so too is it interesting to revisit what is, and while this picture may be a traditional take on vampires like earlier entries we've seen from Universal and then Hammer, it's still definitely got its own thing going on thanks in no small part to the presence of Robert Quarry.

    Set in what as the Los Angeles of the modern day in 1970, the film introduces us to the suave titular Count (played by Quarry) who lives a life of luxury in the City Of Angels. Not the loaner holed up in a castle that other vampires have been, Yorga has an oddball circle of friends, or at the very least curious hangers on, who tend to socialize with him at séances and other mysterious, mystical, occult related events. Yet, Yorga is no young man, no L.A. trendsetter out to party it up, but rather he's proven, though existing as long as he has, that he's in it for the long haul. Some days are more exciting than others for our suave vampire, the ones that tend to involve seducing beautiful young women tend to be especially rewarding, but honestly it's the fact that nobody believes in vampires anymore that lets him get away with what he gets away with.

    One night, after one such gathering, Yorga is driven home by Paul (Michael Murphy) and his girlfriend Erica (Judy Lang). He invites them in, but they decline and instead opt to go fool around in Paul's van not too far from where the drop the good Count off. Of course, Yorga knows what they're up to and arrives just in time to get what he wants and if the next morning Erica should wake up with bite marks on her neck, well, she doesn't really remember any possible way that Yorga could have been involved in something like that. She visits her doctor, Doctor Jim Hayes (Roger Perry), and then heads back to her regular life unaware that Yorga is trying to turn her into one of his vampire brides. Paul figures this out before she does and both he and Doctor Jim start to wonder if Yorga really isn't a vampire after all… but will the old fashioned methods of taking out vampires that they know of actually work?

    Count Yorga, Vampire was a big hit for AIP the year it was released and it's easy to see why - this one is a crowd pleaser. There is a sense of humor behind much of the picture but it never winks at the camera or takes things too far into silly territory as to fall out of favor with genre fans. Yorga, when he wants to be, is quite fierce and Quarry plays him with the right balance of suave upper class sophistication and menace. The guy had great screen presence and director Bob Kelljan puts that screen presence to work in a big way. Quarry gets lots of screen time here, a decent amount of dialogue and he just flat out looks cool. We buy him in the part. Quarry very definitely makes an impression here. The supporting cast members are also fine. Michael Murphy might make an unlikely hero but he and Roger Perry, also an unlikely hero, make it work. Judy Lang is essentially the female lead here and she's beautiful enough that we can understand why she would become the object of Yorga's obsession.

    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.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Count Yorga, Vampire debuts on Blu-ray from Twilight Time in a new AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 and generally looks very good. There are some scenes that look a bit soft and a few spots where you might spot some minor compression artifacts but these are never serious problems. Skin tones look good while black levels are nice and deep. Detail is pretty solid throughout. There's nothing in the way of serious print damage to note, just the occasional minor speck, while the frequently moderate to heavy grain looks nice and natural here. Compared to the DVD, this is a very nice upgrade in every way that you'd want it to be.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono mix is also fine. Dialogue is clean, clear and properly balanced for the most part, while the score and the effects work have good depth to them. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the score has some impressive strength to it when the movie calls for it. Optional subtitles are provided in English only, there are no alternate language options provided.

    Extras start out with an audio commentary featuring David Del Valle and Tim Sullivan that is quite a solid dissertation of the picture. These guys know their stuff, anyone who has heard their recent commentaries on other genre film releases can tell you that, and this well paced talk covers where AIP was at when they came up with the Count Yorga character, the film's impact at the box office, Quarry's history and -importance to this film, plenty of biographical information and trivia relating to all of the key cast and crew members and quite a bit more.

    Also include on the disc is a thirteen minute piece called My Dinner With Yorga: The Robert Quarry "Rue Morgue" Interview, which is essentially David Del Valle and Tim Sullivan reading an interview that was done with the film's late leading man for Rue Morgue magazine by Sullivan years back. Del Valle actually does an impersonation here of Quarry's speaking voice that's pretty convincing. A second audio supplement is included in the form of the forty-six minute long Fangirl Radio Tribute To Robert Quarry in which Tim Sullivan and Fangirl Radio's Jessica Dwyer get together to discuss the actors like and work. They cover his AIP films in a good bit of detail but also discuss what happened to him after his AIP glory days were behind him and the many tragedies that befell the man in his later years.

    Rounding out the extras are two still galleries (one entitled The MGM Archives and the second The Tim Sullivan Archives) that offer up all sorts of archival material, an original theatrical trailer for the feature, the MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer, the film's original isolated score presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 format, menus and chapter selection. Additionally, inside the Blu-ray case is a booklet of liner notes from Julie Kirgo once again offering up some astute observations about the film, the cast and crew and the picture's deserved place in horror movie history.

    The Final Word:

    Count Yorga, Vampire, the first and best film in the short lived AIP horror franchise, comes to Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world in grand style thanks to Twilight Time's efforts. The film gets a nice upgrade in both the audio and video departments compared to the previous DVD release, and some newly created supplements are the icing on the cake. Pick this one up alongside Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release of the sequel and make a double feature out of it!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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