Thursday, April 2, 2009

Glasses are as effective as crosses
when warding off Count Yorga

Count Yorga, Vampire (aka "The Loves of Count Iorga, Vampire") (1974)
Starring: Robert Quarry, Roger Perry, Michael MacReady, Donna Anders, Judith Lang and Michael Murphy
Director: Bob Kelljan
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

The vampire, Count Yorga (Quarry) seemingly sets his sights (and fangs) on every woman he meets, except one, proving a historical fact: In the 1970s, vampires didn't make passes at girls who wear glasses. Meanwhile, their incredibly boring boyfriends try to save by slaying the undead fiend.

"Count Yorga, Vampire" is not a movie that's aged well. First off, while the film is more overtly eortic than any older vampire movie I've seen--reflecting the filmmakers attempt to be part of the "sexual revolution"--it's surprisingly unsexy. Also, the flat lighting of most scenes, the indifferent photography, the bland performances n the past of the cast, and complete humorlessness of the proceedings cause this to be a somewhat dull experience that picks up in the film's final 15-20 minutes where the heroes invade Count Yorga's lair and confront him and his white-nightgown-clad vampire brides.

This film features the only 1970s vampire sequence that's as unnerving as the basement scene in "Satanic Rites of Dracula"... and the scene where Dr. Hayes has his showdown with Yorga and his vampire brides is also a fabulous bit of filmmaking. Even better, the film features a surprise shock ending that actually works, a truly rare and precious thing.

Although you'll have to sit through a predictable and uninteresting first hour, the final third of "Count Yorga, Vampire" will make it worth your while. It's hardly a must-see, but if you enjoy vampire films, you can do worse than this one.

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