Blacula

PLOT:

In 1780, Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall), the ruler of an African nation, seeks the help of Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) in suppressing the slave trade. Dracula, who along with his other evils is revealed as a racist, not only refuses to help but also transforms Mamuwalde into a vampire (denigrating him with the name “Blacula” into the bargain) and imprisons him in a sealed coffin to suffer the un-ending thirst of the damned. Mamuwalde’s wife, Luva (Vonetta McGee), is also imprisoned but, not being a vampire, dies in captivity.

Almost two centuries later, in 1972, the coffin has been purchased as part of an estate by two gay interior decorators, Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schaffer (Rick Metzler), and shipped to Los Angeles. Bobby and Billy open the coffin and become the vampire’s first victims. Blacula then travels around the city and soon encounters Tina (also McGee), who appears to be a reincarnation of his deceased wife, and begins stalking her. This brings the vampire to the attention of Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who is helping Lt. Peters (Gordon Pinsent) with the investigation of the series of strange murders that is occurring, and whose girlfriend, Michelle (Denise Nicholas), is Tina’s sister (by an unlikely coincidence Tina and Michelle are also friends of Bobby, one of the murdered gay men).

The film continues as the vampire kills several more victims and hypnotizes Tina into falling in love with him. Meanwhile, Thomas, Peters, and Michelle are following the trail of victims and come to realize that a vampire is responsible and Mamuwalde is their culprit. In the final scenes, the police shoot at Blacula and Tina; he is unharmed but she is mortally wounded. He saves her by turning her into a vampire, but Thomas, Peters, and Michelle find Tina and kill her with a stake through her heart. Distraught, Mamuwalde climbs up a staircase and onto a rooftop, into the sun to kill himself. Blacula melts in the light, and maggots suck his bones, and eat his flesh.

REVIEW:

 Blacula is one of the vampire films I have been patiently awaiting to see for many years now. Finally, thanks to Netflix instant play, I was able to watch it. Trust me, it was well worth the wait.

I’ve heard some people who have never seen this film think that it basically a retelling of all the other Dracula films, just with an African-American cast. Admittedly, I thought so too, but turns out that Dracula turned an African prince into a vampire, though I don’t remember seeing him bite him.

This has to be the fastest moving vampire film I’ve seen in a long time. Blacula is freed from his coffin and strikes fast. At the same time he is creating the proverbial reign of terror, he is a smooth “brother” getting his mack on with a woman who looks like his lost love.

As with most films of this nature, there has to be some goody goody cop who takes it on himself to save the city, even if it cost someone close to him, their happiness, and in this case, her life. I can’t tell you how annoyed I am with these kind of characters, but apparently they existed even back in the 70s, so chances are they’ll still be around for quite some time.

If you’ve ever seen any blaxploitation flick, then you know that one of the highlights of these film is the funky music. Sadly, Blacula only has that in the opening credits, and a brief appearance by the Hues Corporation, but that is enough to make it truly funky.

Blacula is played by William Marshall. Most people will recognize him as the King of Cartoons from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Once you get past the realization of who he is, he does a masterful job with this character, although I do wish he wold have made him a bit more separated from Dracula. What I mean by that is that he seemed to be playing his version of Dracula, rather than making Blacula an entity into himself. At least that’s how I saw it.

When all the dust settles, Blacula is really an enjoyable film. I’m sure some out there are going to say it is cheesy and that there wasn’t enough gore…blah, blah, blah! Whatever! What works for some vampire films, doesn’t work for others. At least he isn’t walking around with glitter on his chest in the sunlight like those wannabe vampires in the Twilight franchise. I highly recommend this film to everyone. It is a good watch, and a nice warm-up to the heavier, scary stuff you’ll probably be watching in a few days for Halloween.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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4 Responses to “Blacula”

  1. […] to anyone. If you’re into African-American vampire lore, then checkout the Blade trilogy or Blacula. They are far superior. That isn’t to say that this film totally sucks, but it is far from a […]

  2. […] friend of mine posted on facebook about how awesome Blacula was. This led to he and I getting into a discussion about the sequel, this film, Scream, Blacula, […]

  3. […] As far as I know, this isn’t the same studio that brought us Blacula, so the films aren’t related, but in that film they related Blacula to Dracula, and it was […]

  4. […] transforms the valiant doctor into a super strong, violent tempered… white man. Directed by Blacula‘s William Crain, this 70s horror treats it’s story with respect despite how silly it is […]

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