- Count Yorga, Vampire
Count Yorga, Vampire Directed by Bob Kelljan Written by Bob Kelljan Starring Robert Quarry
Music by Bill Marx Distributed by American International Pictures Running time 1h 33min. Language English
AIP had planned at one stage to revive Count Yorga as an adversary for the abominable Dr. Phibes in Dr. Phibes Rises Again. This plan was dropped, however, and Robert Quarry appeared as the artificially young Dr. Biederbeck.
Robert Quarry later played another vampire, the messianic Khorda in 1973's The 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.
The movie opens with narration by character actor George Macready (whose son Michael produced the film) about the superstition of vampires as we see a truck carrying a coffin into Los Angeles.
The movie then shifts to a séance where those involved try to contact the spirit of the recently deceased mother of one of the participants, Donna. It is here we meet the title character, Yorga (Robert Quarry), who holds the séance at Donna's home and manages to charm the other guests while there. After the party is over, two of the guests, Erica and her boyfriend Paul, offer to drive the Count home. Experiencing car trouble outside of Yorga's mansion, the two resign to stay in the van during the night.
Yorga watches the couple make love, then attacks them, knocking out Paul and biting Erica. The next day Erica starts is shown eating a cat, and acts a lot more aggressive and seductive.
It doesn't take long for the male protagonists to suspect a vampire is at work. As they ponder the possibility of the undead, Yorga visits Erica during the night, biting her once again, making her undead, and bringing her back to the mansion to join his other two brides.
Paul goes to Yorga's mansion to get her back, but Yorga expects him and easily subdues and kills him with help of his deformed servant, Brudah. The rest of the remaining characters come by for the night to ask of Paul's whereabouts and one of them, Dr. Hayes (Roger Perry), trades wits with Yorga during their visit. But Yorga easily deflects Hayes' verbal tricks, and manages to hypnotise Donna when the others aren't looking.
During the day, Yorga calls to Donna and, in a trance, she heads back to his mansion, where Brudah rapes her. Hayes and Donna's boyfriend, Michael, find out she is missing and head to Yorga's mansion as it gets dark. There they split up, and Hayes is confronted by Yorga again. He offers proof that he is a vampire, leading the unknowing doctor into a trap in his basement where the vampire's brides are sleeping. As Hayes calls out to Michael, the brides awake and attack him.
Michael meanwhile makes his way through the mansion, finding Paul's body and coming into a confrontation with Brudah, whom he manages to kill. Meanwhile, upstairs, Yorga reunites Donna with her mother, who happens to be one of Yorga's brides. Michael finds Hayes, bloody and dying in Yorga's basement. With his last breath, Hayes tells Michael of Donna's whereabouts just as the vampire Erica and Yorga's other bride try to attack him.
Michael fends them off then proceeds upstairs, where he confronts Yorga and Donna's mother. Yorga pushes his bride onto Michael's stake and makes a run for it. Michael goes after him and almost gets choked to death. But he manages to ram the charging Yorga with his stake. Yorga dies and turns to dust as Michael and Donna look on.
As they attempt to leave, they're confronted by the two remaining brides. Michael manages to hold them back with a cross and chases them off. Unfortunately, as he turns around, Donna, now transformed into a vampire herself, attacks him.
"Superstition?" the narrator's voice says in his last moment of the film before we hear him laughing in the night and "The End" appears on the screen, showing us a very bloody and dead Michael.
The film was originally to have been a soft core porn film called The Loves of Count Iorga, and some prints of the film display this as the on-screen title. Actor Robert Quarry told Michael MacReady he would play the vampire role if they turned the story into a straight horror film. Marsha Jordan, the actress who played Donna's mother, had previously starred in such fare as Marsha, the Erotic Housewife.
Difficulties with the MPAA
Stephen Farber's 1972 book "The Movie Ratings Game" details the problems that the film's distributor American International Pictures had in securing a GP rating (formerly known as M, later renamed to PG) from the Motion Picture Association of America, which initially was divided as to whether to give the film an R or X rating. AIP insisted that they needed an unrestricted GP rating for the film in order to get the film released into the largest possible number of theaters, most importantly drive-in theaters. The film ended up going before the MPAA ratings board six times before being granted the GP rating, and two or three minutes of violent and sexual content were ultimately removed by AIP. Alterations to the movie's soundtrack were also required to lessen the impact of violent scenes that remained in the film. The current MGM DVD release of the film carries a PG-13 rating, indicating the possibility that some of the deleted footage may have been restored.
The most obvious excision was the scene wherein a woman, having succumbed to bloodlust after having been bitten by Yorga, is discovered with her dead pet cat in her hands. In the theatrical version, the scene is so brief that it was hard to tell what was happening. Complete prints of the film show the bloody cat quite clearly.
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