Fortunately, the studio and audience got more than they bargained for from returning producer Michael MacReady and director Bob Kelljan. My friend Wendigo, a vampire connoisseur, is one of many fans who find Return of Count Yorga superior to its admirable predecessor. In his view, it has more story, a better cast and a bigger budget. Everything looks better here than in the first film.
"What's he doing here?" Robert Quarry returns as Count Yorga as "Count Dracula" looks on.
Going into more depth, Wendigo finds the story much more engaging this time. We don't need an introduction to Yorga at this point, and Wendigo appreciates the way the film gets to the point fairly quickly. Also in the sequel's favor is a new ability to balance horror and humor, when much of the first film's humor was really unintentional. Return brings in actual comic relief in the form of two inept cops (one played by Craig T. Nelson) to defuse the tension every so often so that we're not tempted to laugh when we're not supposed to. Some bits are inescapably comical even when the stakes are highest, as when the hero (Roger Perry) first uses two twigs, then his fingers in the most futile attempt to turn a vampire, given that his antagonist, Brudah, isn't even one. The cops are comical but serve a serious story function as skeptical auditors of the heroes' discoveries about vampires. When they're in peril, however, it's not completely a laughing matter, but you can still laugh at them and with the film. Yorga himself has a humorous bit when he doesn't want Brudah to distract him from watching The Vampire Lovers on a Spanish-language TV station.
The vampire may seek a companion to share his gentle pain, but he rides alone. No one messes with his ride!
Wendigo is an admirer of Robert Quarry and considers Return of Count Yorga his favorite of the three vampire films the actor starred in, though Quarry is also very good in The Deathmaster as a vampire who is even more in cult-leader mode than Yorga. We've learned that there were plans to do a third Yorga movie, possibly with him as an antagonist for Dr. Phibes, and Wendigo regrets that Quarry didn't get another crack at the part. He feels that Yorga's potential had not been exhausted after two films, and if anything a comeback looked more plausible this time than after the original. Since both films have "evil wins" endings despite Yorga's own defeat and demise in each, it may simply be in keeping with the pessimistic spirit of the Seventies that Yorga would simply recur no matter what might be done to him. That makes him the ideal vampire for his time.
Edward Walsh can be excused for wondering what point there was to the return of Brudah by the end of the picture.
Here's a trailer uploaded by gotohelltown, but take a listen to this cool radio spot as well.