|R.I.P. Robert Quarry
||[Feb. 22nd, 2009|11:37 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
In my youth, randomly catching the movie The Return of Count Yorga on TV was something of a watershed moment. It scared the crap out of me, especially that early scene with the vampire's hands rising out of the dirt, but I couldn't look away. I had to watch the whole thing, regardless of how many nightmares it would spawn. My love of horror was already born thanks to Sinbad, Abbott & Costello and the after school Million Dollar Movie, but The Return of Count Yorga helped it blossom.
It was many years before I learned The Return of Count Yorga, true to its title, was a sequel, and the movie Count Yorga, Vampire came first. I was almost too scared to watch it, remembering how much Return had freaked me out. When I finally did, and saw how Count Yorga eschewed the traditional black vampire's cape for a satin smoking jacket, I realized the first movie is a camp masterpiece, not scary at all. I haven't seen Return in probably two decades, so I don't remember if it's as campy or if the chills it gave me were well deserved -- but what I do remember is Robert Quarry. He played the role absolutely straight, even while wearing a glittery, sequined shirt you'd think no vampire would be caught undead in. He's what made the Yorga movies work.
Sadly, Quarry, who starred in many B movies including Madhouse and Dr. Phibes Rises Again, passed away on Friday at the age of 83. Maybe I'll hunt down The Return of Count Yorga in his honor.