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The Return of Count Yorga (1971) - Blu-ray Review

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The Return of Count Yorga - Blu-ray Review

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3 beersI have to say that in the vampire category of horror flicks there are very few I find to be actually worthy of a true scare.  The Return of Count Yorga is one of those.  This new age take on sunny Californian vampirism succeeds where the original near skinflick, Count Yorga, Vampire, did not.  It has a better budget and, as it features the return of Robert Quarry in the (obvious) title role, more of a confident swagger that defies both logic and past events.  None are necessary for this tale.  It is also a whole hell of a lot kookier than the original as it mounts a claustrophobic vibe of torment around one of Yorga’s female captives.

Cynthia Nelson (Mariette Hartley) has no idea what hell has been unleashed thanks to the stirring of the Santa Ana winds.  Her pastor says it’s an ill omen.  Her younger brother, playing soccer in a cemetery, is about to get a peak, though, as he is chased by a freshly risen-from-the-ground group of young ladies straight into the arms of Yorga himself.  Thus, the Count’s southern California reign continues as he crashes an orphanage’s costume party – dressed as himself – and sets his vampiric intentions upon the neck of poor Miss Nelson. 

With less than a year gap between the low-budgeted original and the fast-tracked sequel, American International Pictures and director Bob Kelljan strike again with a whole new harem of Yorga followers and a new adobe mansion as his digs.  First, the family is attacked and then Cynthia.  With only vampire hunter Dr. David Baldwin (Roger Perry) and Coach’s Craig T. Nelson to stop him, Count Yorga makes quite the hypnotic impression before his bloody resurrection comes to its conclusion.

In spite of loopier moments of logic-defying antic, I actually prefer The Return of Count Yorga over the original.  It becomes apparent that Quarry loves the role and, with Kelljan again at the helm, there is a confidence that manifests itself both within the character and within some of the choice sequences that finds the director a master at building confusion and paranoia through only a visual sensation.  An earlier scene, depicting his harem rising from the earth, is jarring in every sense of the word and establishes a perfectly freaky tone for the rest of the movie.

One of the key chill-worthy moments is when Cynthia, alone and isolated within Yorga’s mansion, is haunted by his harem.  She never sees them but their howls and name-calling cause her to remember the terror Yorga inflicted upon her family.  She thrashes wildly about in a room, clawing at the walls and the doors, begging for release.  It’s a great moment that absolutely freezes the audience. 

Another moment, which lives in a pop culture reality outside of the actual film itself, is when Yorga – fully realized and somewhat pinned with his back literally against a wall by his main antagonists - finally reveals his fangs and comes charging down a lengthy hall toward the camera.  Like I mentioned earlier, Quarry clearly loved playing the part and, while there were initial plans for a third movie, the lack of profits for AIP with this release was, unfortunately, the final stake in the heart for his dear Count Yorga.

To rise; it is time.  Get bit with Scream! Factory’s release of The Return of Count Yorga.

The Return of Count Yorga - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime:
97 mins
Director
: Bob Kelljan
Writer:
Bob Kelljan, Yvonne Wilder
Cast:
Robert Quarry, Mariette Hartley, Roger Perry
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
The overlord of the damned
Memorable Movie Quote: "At a time like this even Jesus Christ would fabricate his intentions."
Distributor:
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 18, 1971
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 13, 2015
Synopsis: Count Yorga continues to prey on the local community while living by a nearby orphanage. He also intends to take a new wife, while feeding his bevy of female vampires.

The Return of Count Yorga - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 13, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
TBA
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Scream Factory, the horror-thriller offshoot of independent film distributor Shout Factory, releases The Return of Count Yorga on 1080p with solid results.  This is a great improvement over previous releases.  The colors are strong and engaging and the black levels are never weak.  Though there is some grain present, the overall picture has a nice level of detail. The Dolby Digital mono audio is good and has no apparent hiss or background noise.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is a detailed audio commentary with Film Historian Steve Haberman and Actor Rudy De Luca about the making of the sequel.  It should please fans of Yorga.

Special Features:

Well, as they are limited to trailers and a photo gallery, these spots aren’t all that special.

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Radio Spots
  • Photo Gallery

 

 

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