JULY 3, 2009
Pretty much since I began doing HMAD, my buddy Chris has been asking me to review Count Yorga, Vampire. Not sure why it took so long to get around to it; I don’t see enough non-Dracula vampire movies anyway, plus I always enjoy a good comma in my movie titles. So I finally watch it, and then he tells me that the sequel is better. I can’t win.
It’s not that bad of a movie. I think I’ll put it in the pile of “I should have seen this when I was younger” vampire movies, like Salem’s Lot. There’s nothing particularly bad about the movie, but my enjoyment of it is dampened by having seen 200 others that do nearly the same thing. Indeed, it actually follows the Dracula template fairly closely, right down to awkwardly transferring the hero title from the young guy to the doctor halfway through the story.
Plus it’s actually kind of perfect for kids, as it features no direct violence (and the requisite 60s/70s vampire lesbian action is kept off-screen entirely), nor is the plot very complicated. The heroes meet Drac-, er, Yorga, and the women fall under his spell while the men sit around discussing how they need to kill him. Then they do. The end.
There is a certain level of late 60s/early 70s quirk that I enjoyed though. First off, everyone smokes, the doctor moreso than the others. Even when he’s treating people! There are also a few choice lines that made me laugh heartily; in what is probably my favorite part of the entire movie, two of the guys are making crucifixes out of household stuff, resulting in this exchange:
“What is that, a broom handle?
”Well, why not. Let’s go.”
Hahaha, awesome. There’s also a strange bit where the doctor tries to explain why he is leaving in the middle of the night to his seemingly brain-dead mistress, using examples that seem to make the matter even more confusing. I also liked the performance of Michael Murphy, who spends most of the film baffled before he is unceremoniously killed off halfway through. There’s one lengthy sequence where he and the doctor walk around what seems to be the entirety of the San Fernando Valley, with Murphy telling the story so far, despite the fact that we’ve already seen it all. It kind of reminded me of the part from Naked Gun where Drebin walks around as he puzzles over the case, only to end up in the middle of the woods somewhere (“And where the hell was I?”).
I also enjoyed the performance of Robert Quarry as Yorga (comma Vampire). The script doesn’t give him a lot to do, but he manages to take a generic Dracula wannabe role and still make it interesting; there’s a terrific bit late in the film where he has a battle of wits with the doctor, and he’s so good you actually start rooting for him a bit. And the few “scare” type scenes are definitely the type that can leave a lasting imprint on a young child, as he widens his eyes and gnashes his teeth (not too bad of a job on the fangs by the way) in a threatening manner a couple of times near the end. It’s a pose that would make a terrific model.
I will check out the sequel someday; I guess MGM has put them together in a double feature. Assuming my friend is correct and the sequel is better, then it’s probably a decent enough purchase for under 10 bucks, especially if you haven’t seen umpteen Dracula movies already.
What say you?