Up for the Count
Christopher Lee’s incarnation of Dracula in Hammer Films from 1958 to 1973 remains deathless, though one aspect that annoyed Lee, as he pointed out to interviewers about the succession of films that followed 1958’s Dracula (Horror of Dracula stateside), was that he was given few lines and had little to do but exude evil, which he did astoundingly well. When American International Pictures picked up the undead mantle with Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), retooling it as a straight horror film after it was originally conceived as a soft-core porn project, its title hellion was given some contemporary resonance (the Count is introduced as a charismatic mystic who conducts séances in the Los Angeles area and courts followers, evoking the renown of the recently murderous Charles Manson and his “Family”) and lusciously ripe dialogue for actor Robert Quarry to relish in the seduction of his victims and his disdain for his would-be destroyers. It proved to be a genre transfusion that made this and its sequel The Return of Count Yorga box-office successes. Twilight Time’s upcoming release of Count Yorga, Vampire features bloody-good extras paying homage to the film’s legacy: a detailed Audio Commentary with Historians David Del Valle and Tim Sullivan, plus an Audio Reading of an Interview given to Rue Morgue Magazine by Quarry, a Fangirl Radio Tribute to Quarry and Galleries of Rare Production Stills from studio and personal archives. For more on the film, seek out Jeff Stafford’s essay at the TCM website: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article.html?id=518235|508379. For more on Quarry, try Mark Iveson’s lovely article The Man Who Was Count Yorga: A Tribute to Robert Quarry at http://www.shadowlocked.com/201101031213/opinion-features/the-man-who-was-count-yorga-a-tribute-to-robert-quarry.html. Count Yorga, Vampire comes to hi-def Blu-ray from TT on October 13; pre-orders open on September 30.