Counts and Countesses at the beginning of the 1970s

This is it. I’ve at last reached the final four DVDs I inherited from my late brother, and they’re from 1970 and 1971, when I was barely into my terrible twos (I still am).

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970)

Somehow I landed back in Hammer Films hell after I thought I’d gotten through all of them. Dang, my brother loved Hammer movies. I had high hopes for their take on vamps this time, because instead of once again retreading their Dracula movies, the focus is on a female vampire!

The opener delivers classic Hammer atmosphere as a vampire hunter waits by a cemetery for a creepy specter to rise from the ground. Great scene. I swear, the specter looks better in motion.

Then we get into the thick of the plot. Some woman keeps dropping her pretty daughter off with random families. Each time the daughter joins a household, a young woman in the family falls ill, dies, and is found to have two puncture wounds on her neck.

Good thing Peter Cushing is around. He and a group of guys that also lost women to this vampire chick go hunting her down, aaaaaaand…it becomes just another cookie cutter Hammer film. Well, I guess not totally, because this lady vamp seduces women. Eek! It’s lesbian Hammer horror!

COUNTESS DRACULA (1971)

This is poorly titled, because this is an Elizabeth Bathory concept, not vampire. A recently widowed countess learns she can remain youthful if she bathes in the blood of young women. So she gets her servants to help her kidnap and kill victims.

Things don’t go as planned. In between ridiculous soap opera bed-hopping nonsense, she starts looking worse!

Turns out she was supposed to be dipping only in virgin blood. So, the plan is altered to fit the new parameters.

Just boring. Not gory, not scary, just boring. I could barely find a single enticing still shot.

COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970)

Yorga most definitely steals a lot of Drac’s style, but maybe just because he isn’t named Dracula, I found him a bit more provocative.

He holds a séance for a woman who recently lost her mother, and after the woman freaks out during the séance, one couple at the gathering drives Yorga home. After dropping him off, they have sex in their van, which turns into a pretty dang good vampire POV scene.

That’s one of just several really effective horror elements here, the next being Yorga’s female victim getting caught feasting on a cat. Eek!

Tradition never goes out of style, so the count comes to her window at night (after she feels up her tits first), and then the men of the movie, including The Facts of Life headmaster Mr. Parker, start to realize she’s a victim of vampirism.

As the Count builds a little army of vamp babes, the men plot to take them all down by infiltrating his lair.

The final act is creepy vampire stuff for its time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if parts of this film were the inspiration for Tobe Hooper’s adaptation of Salem’s Lot.

THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971)

Somehow the Santa Ana winds have brought Yorga back to life. What kind of Frosty the Snowman bullshit is that?

Also back is Mr. Parker, but playing a different character. See? Horror has been doing this kind of dumb crap for decades. And keep an eye out for a young Craig T. Nelson of Poltergeist fame.

This time around, the Count becomes obsessed with and abducts Mariette Hartley, who is a teacher at the orphanage. She remembers nothing, so he convinces her he took her in to take care of her after an accident

I prefer this sequel to the first film, because they’ve upped the creep factor in numerous scenes. For instance, the vamp ladies rise from the ground and chase a little boy in the woods, the count does some great slow mo chasing, Mariette is assaulted by a cacophony of creepy laughter while trapped in a room, and there’s a great scene of Yorga’s vamp ladies taking down a room full of shrieking people.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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