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Robert Quarry (aka Count Yorga) at Cult Movies Convention
By Steve Ryfle
October 26, 2000
Let's say you had a chance to do your own Interview with the Vampire
. Not to write the Anne Rice book, but to conduct a real-life interview with a fictional bloodsucker. Who would you choose? Bela Lugosi? Lon Chaney (senior, of course)? Christopher Lee? Gary Oldman? Those are all good choices, but I'd probably opt for a chat with Robert Quarry, who played the undead villain of two AIP schlock-shockers, Count Yorga, Vampire!
(1970) and The Return of Count Yorga
(1971). A low-rent prince of darkness? Maybe, but he's the only one who had an army of sexy vampire-women at his command!
Yorga was one of the most bloodthirsty, ruthless and sexually charged vampires to hit the screen; for Quarry, a consummate professional character actor who had been in studio films like A Kiss Before Dying
(1956) and WUSA
with Paul Newman, these cheapo horror flicks were his first shot at leading-man status. As it turned out, he never really blossomed into the leading-man type, instead forging a career films, TV, and later direct-to-video stuff as sort of a dependable, blustery supporting type.
Anyhow, Quarry was a guest at last weekend's Cult Movies Magazine convention in Hollywood, so of course I approached him and asked for a few comments. He told me a hilarious story about how he almost quit the first Count Yorga
movie after the first day of shooting because he was so disgusted with the ineptness of the filmmakers, but eventually everything worked out. The long and the short of it is this: my tape recorder didn't capture this wonderful exchange, and paraphrasing it any further wouldn't do justice to Quarry, who's a great guy and has a way of telling a story. I did, however, manage to capture on tape a few minutes of Quarry's question-and-answer session at the con, where he told some other stories about his days of the fangs and cape. Here's an excerpt:QUESTION:
DO YOU HAVE ANY FOND MEMORIES OF THE TWO COUNT YORGA
Yes, the second County Yorga
, because Mariette Hartley is a dear friend and a very fine actress...she's really one of the funniest ladies around. In the first [Count Yorga
] movie, there was a line where I looked at the mother and said, 'Thoon we will be together, and thoon I will thuck from your veinth the thweet nectar of life.' Because with those fangs on, I couldn't talk; they made you lisp. They cut it [the line] out of the first movie, but they brought it back for the second one. Mariette was laying on the bed, and I come around quietly in the dark, and I say the line: 'Thoon I will thuck from your veinth the thweet nectar of life.' ...It took 37 takes to get that scene, for me to say that line, and they cut it out of the movie, because it was such a terrible line! I can't remember a line of Shakespeare. But forever imbedded in my memory is 'Thoon I will thuck from your veinth the thweet nectar of life,' sounding like Porky Pig!