The Return Of Count Yorga (1971)



As I mentioned in my review for the first Yorga film, my buddy Chris was always hounding me to watch it, and when I finally did he told me that Return To Count Yorga was better. Luckily, the 3rd film never happened, and as luck would have it I was going to meet him for dinner tonight, so I was happy knowing he couldn’t bitch at me for not seeing it anymore. But then I found out that HE had never seen The Thing or The Fly! What a goon!

He’s right though, this one’s a lot better. Actually you might as well just skip the first one if you’ve seen a bunch of Dracula movies, since it’s a pretty close ripoff. This one has more of its own personality (it also ignores the first film; Yorga is alive with no explanation whatsoever), and it repeats the original stuff to boot – it’s sort of like Evil Dead 2 in that regard. Of course, this means that they bring back the scene halfway through the film where two guys walk around town and summarize the plot of the movie up to that point, but I actually find that kind of charming. A Yorga tradition!

But it also brings back the humor, which I greatly appreciated. Early on, Yorga crashes the lamest costume party in history, and someone asks him “Where are your fangs?” to which he replies “Where are you manners?”. And it’s kind of amusing that the guy who spends the bulk of the movie trying to figure stuff out is dressed as Sherlock Holmes in this sequence. There’s also a terrific bit where Yorga watches some Hammer vampire movie on TV, an early example of meta-humor. And I LOVED the scene where an old deaf dude ponders why they are asking him about "yoga" ("I tried it years ago, got stuck in a lotus position!").

And it’s scary! There are at least two instances of Yorga gnashing his teeth, making his eyes real big, and running at an intended victim that will likely freak anyone out if they were young and/or still scared by horror movies. As with the original, it’s sort of a kid friendly horror movie; it was re-rated R but was PG on its original release. I can’t think of anything particularly gruesome – I’d say the TV Salem’s Lot was way harsher, and when I reviewed that I was taken to task for not finding it very scary, mainly by folks who saw it as a kid.

Plus, as if the movie needed MORE entertainment value, it features the first theatrical turn by none other than Craig T. Nelson. At first I thought he was just going to be some glorified extra, since he plays his first two scenes without saying a word (he’s a cop investigating the murders/disappearances, but the other cops take more of an active role in the proceedings). But he eventually starts talking and is one of the two main heroes during the climax, since the actual hero (the Sherlock Holmes guy) disappears for the bulk of it. Him and his partner get kind of goofy, running away from danger and such, but it’s amusing. I’ll take it over the two cops from Halloween 5, at any rate.

The pacing is a bit sluggish at times though. Yorga makes his presence and his intentions known pretty quickly, and there are TWO scenes of a mute woman trying to convince the cops that there’s something fishy going on, only to be thwarted by this hateful little bastard kid who is under Yorga’s control. One was enough, and I say this as someone who loves to see hateful children in movies. It’s also a bit too dark at times, particularly during the climax, where I had trouble even seeing who was in the shot. The Netflix transfer was probably no help, but it definitely needed another light to begin with. Otherwise, it’s visually interesting as well; I particularly liked the murder by the dock that we watch from under the water. I also think Yorga breaks the record for vampire mistresses in a single movie; he’s got like 9 of them doing his bidding by the time the final reel comes.

Oh and he kills a priest via quicksand. Awesome.

As with many 70s MGM titles, the two films are available together on one DVD, the purchase of which is highly recommended. Like I said earlier, the original is sort of a rough draft for this more interesting/polished Yorga adventure, but Robert Quarry’s laid-back performance is quite great, and it’s a shame that the 3rd film (in which he’d be living in the sewer and commanding transients, which sounds like Theatre of Blood) never happened (especially since this one has no end credits or even a “the end” on screen – we get no closure whatsoever with this franchise!). Also, I’m unfamiliar with Quarry – can someone recommend any other horror films he starred in? Thanks.

What say you?


  1. He also co-starred in three great "70's horror films, DR>PHIBES RISES AGAIN, MADHOUSE, and SUGAR HILL. All released by AIP, I believe.

  2. Deathmaster is another Quarry vampire film and the closest to a Yorga 3 we got!

  3. If I'm not mistaken, the actor who played the doctor in the first film (the Van Helsing character, basically) is the Sherlock Holmes hero with a beard and mustache in this one (different character). Weird. IMDB says the Santa Ana winds that are mentioned are the reason Yorga and his servant both are resurrected, but I don't recall that being made explicitly clear. Overall, I thought the first one was better.


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