The Return of Count Yorga Blu-ray Review

The vampire Count Yorga is back from the grave and looking for love in this sequel

The original Count Yorga, Vampire was a big hit for the B-movie circuit in 1970 so AIP naturally released a sequel soon after. People today are probably more familiar with Hammer’s vampire films of this era but the Count Yorga movies are highly underrated. Featuring the debonair Count Yorga and his bevy of beautiful female vampire minions, the Count is looking for love in this sequel. The Return of Count Yorga is influenced by a couple of notable things, including Night of the Living Dead and the Charles Manson murders. Robert Quarry briefly became a major horror star as the dashing Count Yorga, signing a contract with AIP only rivaled by Vincent Price.

This is a traditional vampire tale set in contemporary California, which would have been somewhat new and unusual to moviegoers at the time. The script holds up quite well despite a number of derivative elements. Count Yorga (Robert Quarry) has returned from the dead and moved next to an orphanage where the beautiful Cynthia (Mariette Hartley) works.

The vampire immediately becomes smitten with Cynthia. She already happens to be engaged to David (Roger Perry). In true romantic fashion, the evil Count woos her by slaughtering her family and hypnotizing her. He wipes her mind with his mental powers, hoping she’ll fall in love with him. Will love finally be the force that conquers Count Yorga? A young deaf woman and Cynthia’s fiancé stand in the way. Count Yorga enlists the aid of a sinister young orphan, Tommy, on his side in this struggle between good and evil.

He’s a suave, smooth vampire that would have been a new take on vampires in the early Seventies…

Count Yorga lives in style with a host of beautiful female vampires that do his bidding and a disfigured henchman to dump the corpses. He’s a suave, smooth vampire that would have been a new take on vampires in the early Seventies but still confirms to many of the old tropes. Count Yorga has lived for several hundred years and hails from Eastern Europe, though he lacks the heavy accent of Dracula seen in many films. Quarry intelligently approached the character, believing a person that had lived hundreds of years would have learned many things along the way. Count Yorga is a still a vicious monster and thirsts for blood like all vampires, but goes far beyond the common vampire stereotypes of the time. In some ways, the Count is an early model for Gary Oldman’s Dracula seen in Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The one thing this movie doesn’t have is good creature make-up. The low-budget AIP horror films often had great scripts and solid casts for their genre. Lavish special effects and props were often victims of the budget. The hokey vampire fangs seen on the Count’s many minions are something you simply must suspend your disbelief to enjoy the movie. Like many films from this era, the horror FX are badly dated.

If you enjoy Seventies’ horror the Count Yorga movies shouldn’t be missed. This is stylish entertainment that holds up nearly as well as the first Count Yorga, Vampire film. The Return of Count Yorga works more as a standalone story than a true sequel, one of the reasons it succeeds on its own. A young Craig T. Nelson makes his screen debut in a small role as a cop that ends up fighting the forces of darkness. Mariette Hartley never really achieved the stardom many predicted for her career but she turns in a fine performance as the leading lady. It is a ton of vampire fun and provides some genuinely creepy moments.

Movie ★★★★★

Yorga's attempt at a smile @ 7:26

Scream Factory has licensed The Return of Count Yorga from MGM. They have delivered an outstanding Blu-ray presentation for the 1971 film from a superb film transfer. In a strange twist of fate rival label Twilight Time was able to snag the rights for the original Count Yorga, Vampire, also coming in October. Truth be told, after seeing the impressive package put together by Scream Factory on this BD I am saddened they didn’t get to release both films together.

The main feature runs a sharp 97 minutes on a BD-25. The AVC video encode averages 21.96 Mbps. If there is one flaw in this wonderfully crisp, film-like Blu-ray transfer, an ever so slight amount of banding creeps into the grain structure. Every other aspect beams with a clarity the movie hasn’t seen in decades. Rich black levels reveal the incredible shadow delineation inherent in Butler’s fine cinematography. A hint of softness hits the 1080P video when optical process shots are used but close-ups ooze with definition. The screen runs a bold crimson with blood when the Count and his minions attack.

The film elements are in fantastic condition. This transfer represents a nicely-done telecine without much processing. Only a brand-new 4K film scan could give this movie any noticeable improvement. The film-like grain and healthy levels of fine detail give this movie a perfect vintage feel, staying faithful to its original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation.

Scream Factory has definitely stepped their videophile game up in the past year, finding quality HD masters like The Return of Count Yorga. I certainly wasn’t expecting the older movie to look this good in 1080P resolution. It represents a gigantic improvement over MGM’s older DVD version.

Video ★★★★★

The original mono soundtrack is preserved in a satisfactory 2.0 DTS-HD MA offering. Bill Marx’s moody, melodramatic score sounds fine with decent range and pristine fidelity. The recording quality is better than average for this kind of low-budget horror fare, on par with bigger Hollywood productions from the time. Dialogue comes through in perfect intelligibility. The audio surpassed my expectations with its clean, crisp sound quality.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.

Audio ★★★☆☆

Scream Factory picked a very appropriate vintage ad for the reversible cover. The archival marketing materials are fun, reminding me that horror films were marketed much differently back in the 1970s. The original MGM DVD only had a trailer, so Scream Factory went out and dug up the vintage spots and commissioned a new commentary.

Audio Commentary – Film historian Steve Haberman and actor Rudy De Luca provide this very informative, breezy discussion about Count Yorga’s background. Haberman carries much of the mostly non-stop discussion, going over the script and cast. Rudy was actually on set as the movie was being filmed and includes information only a firsthand witness could relate about the production. This is a thorough, directed commentary that covers everything in a friendly, engaging style. One of the easier commentaries to listen all the way through that I’ve heard in recent memory. I learned a lot about AIP that I hadn’t previously known.

Theatrical Trailer (01:38 in SD) – I love these vintage trailers with the dramatic voice-overs.

TV Spot (00:22 in SD)

Radio Spots (01:36 in HD) – Interestingly enough, some dialogue from these radio spots didn’t make the movie.

Extras ★★★☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

  • Twilight Time will release Count Yorga, Vampire on Blu-ray the same week.