Stars – Michael Murphy, Donna Anderson, Roger Perry, Robert Quarry, Michael Macready
Director – Bob Kelljan
Released by Twilight Time
Limited edition of 3,000 Units
Available at Screenarchives.com
Reviewed by Steven Ruskin
The title we see at the start is, Loves of Count Iorga, Vampire which harks back to the original intention to produce a soft core vampire film. Upon being offered the starring role in the picture Robert Quarry pushed for doing a straight ahead horror film. He got his way. The film did very well at the box office, too. The film begins with a séance. Yorga is entertaining three couples but becomes irritated when they interrupt him and do not take the activity seriously. He seems like a phony medium or at least not who he seems to be. When the party breaks up Erica (Judy Lang) and her boyfriend Paul (Michael Murphy) agree to drop the Count off at his home. Afterward they get struck in some mud and decide to roll around in the back of the van rather than deal with the trouble. Later that night the Count attacks. He tosses Paul aside and puts the bite on Erica. Neither gets a good look at him.
Paul then spends a good deal of time walking and talking with his friend the doctor. After a while the doctor suspects that Erica has been turned into a vampire. Horror fans will catch on quick that she is turning when we see her chow down on the family cat. It’s a gruesome scene that was either trimmed or cut from other releases. The version here is uncut. There are several scenes with the women that border right on the edge of brinkmanship. Open dresses are a fraction of an inch from getting an R rating. Needing to reach the widest audience possible the producers made sure they got a GP rating (later PG). The attack on the Count turns out to be a well set trap. Yorga has a small collection of vampire ladies downstairs that swarm the good doctor leaving Paul to have to figure out another way to dispatch him.
The cast is pretty small here. Much of the film has a very flat and uninteresting look to it. Despite being set in California during the height of the counter culture movement the film fails to take advantage of that. There are no hippies to be found. The film looks like a porno film that took a left turn down the horror highway and left the sex scenes out. Robert Quarry’s performance is the best thing going for it. He’s lots of fun to watch. When he is relaxing at home he’s costumed like a sort of Hugh Hefner type with cool threads and evening robes. However when he is on the prowl as The Count he has the typical vampire costume with elongated fangs and white pancake make-up as if he has undergone some kind of transformation. The final attack on his house at the end has some good action to it. The last moments of The Count show a bloody staking and a creatively fun sandy demise.
We don’t get a lot of suspense scenes though. The pace is on the slow side due to some lackluster direction. One of the best shots in the film is a kind of preface before that séance where we see a large wooden casket picked up at the docks. We follow it along a highway as it sits in the back of a pick up truck. That was very cool. Quarry’s performance is largely what makes the film enjoyable. There was one line that cracked me up. While Paul and his doctor friend are chatting, the doctor suddenly becomes convinced of his theories. He turns to his friend and asks, “How would you feel about driving a wooden stake through somebody’s heart?” Paul replies, “Marvelous” . Running at 93 minutes the film carries a PG-13 rating updated from the theatrical GP it received on its original release. You can see where some scenes could get quite scandalous as if the producers were slightly hedging their bet on making a full on horror film. Make sure you hide the family cat when you watch this one.
Video – 1.85:1
The presentation offered here looks fine. The fact that much of the film has a very flat look to it is down to the original shooting. Once in a while during the interiors there is a shot of Yorga that features good composition and strong black levels.
Audio – 1.0 DTS-HD with subtitles offered in English SDH
All dialogue is clear and easy to follow.
Extras – Twilight Time’s signature isolated score and effects track, Commentary with Film Historians David Del Valle and Tim Sullivan, My Dinner with Yorga: The Robert Quarry Rue Morgue Interview, a Reading by David Del Valle and Tim Sullivan, Fangirl Radio Tribute to Robert Quarry with Tim Sullivan. Still Gallery: The MGM Archives, Still Gallery: The Tim Sullivan Archives, Original Theatrical Trailer
Listening to Tim Sullivan and David Del Valle recreate a conversation with Robert Quarry from notes since the original tape was lost is a hoot. Quarry seems to have had a great time with his fans and those that got a kick out of the films.
On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic:
Blu-Ray – Excellent
Movie – Fair/ Good