The Return of Count Yorga

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The Return of Count Yorga
Returnyorga.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBob Kelljan
Produced byMichael Macready
Written byBob Kelljan
Yvonne Wilder
StarringRobert Quarry
Mariette Hartley
Roger Perry
Yvonne Wilder
George Macready
Rudy De Luca
Edward Walsh
Craig T. Nelson
Music byBill Marx
CinematographyBill Butler
Edited byLaurette Odney
Fabien D. Tordjmann
Production
company
Peppertree Productions Inc.
Distributed byAmerican International Pictures
Release date
  • August 18, 1971 (1971-08-18) (Los Angeles)[1]
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

The Return of Count Yorga (originally titled Yorga Returns) is a 1971 American vampire horror film directed by Bob Kelljan and starring Robert Quarry. It is the sequel to the 1970 film Count Yorga, Vampire.

The story features Quarry returning as the infamous vampire Count Yorga, along with his servant Brudah, both of whom have been revived by the supernatural Santa Ana winds. Actor Roger Perry, who had a lead role in the first film, appears again but as a different character.

Plot[edit]

Cynthia Nelson (Mariette Hartley), a teacher at the local orphanage, talks with a pastor while watching the sun set before getting ready for a fundraising costume party. Cynthia mentions the "Santa Ana winds" which the pastor states are an evil omen. One of the orphans, Tommy (Philip Frame), wanders into the nearby cemetery where he faintly hears a voice ordering "Rise, rise; it is time." Tommy initially dismisses it, but as he stops to rest, vampire women rise from their graves. Seeing this, Tommy tries to escape the cemetery only to run into the clutches of Count Yorga (Robert Quarry), who is waiting for them.

Sometime later, Yorga goes to the orphanage during their costume party and fund raiser. Biting one of the pretty guests, Mitzi (Jesse Welles), outside the event room before going inside and introducing himself to those present, among which is Cynthia whom he becomes infatuated with. When a weakened Mitzi stumbles into the room, he leaves as the others are attending to her. That night, he returns to his manor and a makeshift throne room overlooking several coffins, greeted by Brudda (Edward Walsh), Yorga's hulking facially disfigured valet, and the female vampires from earlier ready to do his bidding. Yorga sends the undead women to Cynthia's house, using mind-control to get Cynthia's family (along with Tommy, who was sleeping over) into the living room before his brides break in and attack them. The family is quickly overrun with Cynthia's mother, father and sister, Ellen (Karen Ericson), fed upon by the undead horde. Tommy is untouched, showcasing he is under Yorga's power while Cynthia herself is subdued, but unharmed and carried by the brides to Yorga's residence where she awakens. Due to Yorga's hypnotic suggestions, she has no memory of the attack. Yorga tells Cynthia that there was a car accident and she was left in his care by her family. He tries to charm the young woman into willingly becoming his bride, though he is warned by his live-in witch that Cynthia will bring his end if he does not kill her or turn her into a vampire soon.

The next morning, Jennifer (Yvonne Wilder), the Nelsons' mute maid, finds the massacre scene and calls the police. However as she does, Brudda drags the corpses of Cynthia's mother and father to a quicksand pit on Yorga's property, disposing of the physical evidence. By the time the police arrive though, all of the evidence has been mysteriously cleared away, and Tommy claims that nothing has happened. Despite the confusion, David Baldwin (Roger Perry), Cynthia's fiancé, is suspicious about the Nelsons' disappearance. Meanwhile, memories of the attack on her family slowly start to resurface in Cynthia's mind as she stays within Yorga's manor. Jennifer, suspicious about Tommy's involvement with the Nelson's disappearance and his visits to Yorga's mansion, loses her patience and slaps Tommy who stares at her in a vengeful manner. Meanwhile, Yorga goes to claim Mitzi, killing her boyfriend near their boat house before feeding on her once more, this time finishing draining her completely and adding her to his vampiric harem.

Hours later, Ellen's fiancé Jason (David Lampson) is lured to Yorga's mansion by Tommy, on the claim that he found Ellen. Once at the mansion, Tommy disappears, while Jason is reunited with Ellen who has clearly been made into a vampire by Yorga. As she mocks him for "not loving her anymore" and soon starts laughing cruelly at him when he sense something wrong, her fellow brides attack Jason from behind. Jason breaks free, only to run into Count Yorga, who chases Jason down a hall and strangles him. Bruddah tosses Jason's body into the throne/coffin room for the brides, including Ellen and newly vampiric Mitzi, to feed upon.

That evening, Reverend Thomas (Tom Toner) phones Jennifer, but it is revealed she lies dead on her bed with a large knife sticking out of her chest. From her window, Tommy can be seen walking away from the house. After Thomas learns (off camera) of Jennifer's death, David is sure he is correct about the Count's true nature and manages to convince Reverend Thomas and investigating police detectives Lt. Madden (Rudy De Luca) and Sgt. O'Connor (Craig T. Nelson) to join him in a rescue-mission at Yorga's mansion. Reverend Thomas is sent to distract Yorga while Baldwin, Madden and O'Connor sneak in to search the manor, armed with sticks they can cross and hold up to ward off the vampires. Meanwhile the pastor falls for Yorga's charms and reveals the others' suspicions that he is a vampire, alerting Yorga of danger. Thomas is tricked into walking into the quicksand pit and promptly sinks to his death. Yorga returns to the manor, awakens his brides and unleashes them through the household as he psychically calls Cynthia to him.

Baldwin splits from the detectives to expand the room-by-room search, and upon opening one door discovers Jason's corpse, covered in bloody bite marks with an IV draining remaining blood from his neck into a glass-bottle on the floor beneath him. Later, Baldwin finally finds the half-mind-controlled Cynthia and attempts to escape; however, he is nearly beaten by Brudda. Falling into a suit of armor, Baldwin grabs a metal mace and knocks Brudda out with a violent blow to the face.

Meanwhile Madden and O'Connor (disbelieving the idea of vampires up to this point) are now believers on the run from Yorga's vampire brides. The detectives attempt to shoot them point blank, but their bullets prove ineffective against the undead. In the midst of the their escape, they encounter Brudda and managed to shoot him to death. Eventually O'Connor is separated in the brides' throne/coffin room by a shutter and immediately bitten by the witch (also a vampire) as Madden helplessly listens to O'Connor's death-screams. Madden tries to find a way to him, but lured in by a voice from the shadows (thinking it is Baldwin) and killed by Tommy who stabs him in the same way he murdered Jennifer.

Baldwin and Cynthia are the only ones left alive, with Yorga supernaturally mocking Baldwin throughout the estate. However, Yorga seals their exit routes while his brides slowly close in on the two. They duck into a darken hallway, but when Baldwin turns on the lights, he finds himself confronted by all the brides (including Ellen and Mitzi) with Yorga behind them who calls Cynthia over to his side. Yorga takes her away preparing to transform her into a new bride, while leaving his army of brides to finish off Baldwin. He is about to take her when he hears Baldwin scream his name, and he suddenly seems frightened. Baldwin, seemingly have escaped the brides (along the way, grabbing an iron battle-axe from a wall), chases the two up to the balcony. Yorga and Baldwin fight, with Yorga gaining the advantage, although Baldwin seems stronger than before. Just as he is about to kill Baldwin via choking, Cynthia's memories of the brides killing her family resurfaces, causing her to realize Yorga was responsible for their deaths. She strikes Yorga in the chest with Baldwin's battle-axe. With Yorga stunned by the action, Baldwin uses the moment to throw Yorga off the balcony, and he lies motionless on the pavement below.

Cynthia hugs Baldwin, believing the ordeal over. However, she notices something wrong and pulls away. To her horror, she sees that Baldwin has suddenly transformed into a vampire, having apparently not escaped from the brides unscathed. Cynthia tries to run from him, but Baldwin pulls her back, biting her.

The last shot of the movie is Tommy playing with his ball in front of the orphanage accompanied by a haunting rendition of the song the children sang at the beginning of the film. Though Yorga is dead, his evil lives on as those who know of him are either dead or turned into vampires and will carry out his curse. The film ends with the ominous implication that Cynthia has joined them and the surviving vampires are resting within the manor, where they will proceed to spread the vampirisim to the unwitting orphanage and soon to the rest of the town.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In one scene, Yorga is seen watching a Spanish-language version of The Vampire Lovers on his television.

Planned sequel[edit]

A third Yorga film, which would have featured a broken Count Yorga living in Los Angeles's sewers and creating an army of undead street people, never materialised.

Though Count Yorga is referred to as "the Deathmaster" in publicity for this film, a later film called The Deathmaster, also starring Robert Quarry as a vampire, has no relation to the Count Yorga series.

Release[edit]

The film was released theatrically in the US by American International Pictures in 1971.

The film was released on VHS home video (full screen format) in 1993 by Orion Home Video, which once held home video distribution rights to many titles in the American International Pictures catalogue.

The film was given a second VHS release by MGM Home Entertainment in September 2000. It was later released on DVD by MGM in 2005 as part of their Midnite Movies series.[2] The disc was a double feature release, pairing the film alongside Count Yorga, Vampire.

When CBS ran the movie in the 1970s, on their "Friday Night Late Movie", the on-screen title was Yorga Returns.

Reception[edit]

Howard Thompson of The New York Times panned the film as "a dull, amateurish vampire brew."[3] Variety called it "a solid follow-up" to the original and "a handsome-looking film which rings the bell on both the shocker and satirical level."[4] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it "extremely frightening" and adding, "Persons familiar with the original will find the sequel better photographed, better acted and containing more mayhem a minute."[5] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Those who saw 'Count Yorga' will be disappointed. Those who only see 'The Return' will wonder what all the fuss was about in regard to the original. In the first film comedy gave way to terror; in this self-conscious sequel the two elements tend to cancel each other out. The result is a pretty silly show."[6] David Pirie of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that Count Yorga had been resurrected "with considerably more enterprise and panache than before." He praised the acting as being "of a generally high standard" and the castle set as "skilfully utilised to give the impression of a labyrinth of Borgesian proportions," though he criticized "a totally unnecessary and feeble attempt to make the Count into a sympathetic figure through such lines as, 'The most fragile emotion ever known has entered my breast.'"[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Return of Count Yorga - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "The Return of Count Yorga". mgm.com. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  3. ^ Thompson, Howard (February 3, 1972). "Horrors of 'Rue Morgue' and 'Yorga'". The New York Times. 26.
  4. ^ "Film Reviews: The Return Of Count Yorga". Variety. August 11, 1971. 28.
  5. ^ Siskel, Gene (August 26, 1971). "'Yorga' is Back". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 7.
  6. ^ Thomas, Kevin (August 18, 1971). "Count Yorga Moves North". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 15.
  7. ^ Pirie, David (December 1971). "The Return of Count Yorga". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 38 (455): 247.

External links[edit]