Blacula (1972)

blacula-poster
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some fun, some style

Cheap looking at points, so-so story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Blacula

Studio:  American International Pictures

Genre(s):  Blaxploitation/Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  August 25, 1972

MPAA Rating:  PG

blacula-first-attack

I vant to suck yo blood!

Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) and his wife Luva (Vonette McGee) are sent to Europe to try to stop the slave trade but fall victim to Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay). With Dracula’s given name Blacula, Prince Mamuwalde awakens in 1970s Los Angeles when Dracula’s belonging are purchased by a pair of interior decorators. Now loose in Los Angeles, Blacula finds his wife Luva reborn in the body of Tina who finds she has a strange attraction to Mamuwalde. When Tina’s sister Michelle (Denise Nicholas) and her sister’s Dr. Thomas Gordon (Thalmus Rasulala) uncover that vampires are real and spreading their disease within the city, they set out to end Prince Mamuwalde’s reign before it begins.

blacula-dracula

Dracula…meet Blacula

Directed by William Crain, Blacula is one of the quintessential examples of the blaxploitation genre. The movie was met with modest reviews and has gained cult status through the years due to its rather goofy premise.  It often can be found for cheap in a double pack with its sequel.

Despite the set-up and the horrible name, Blacula is a rather entertaining horror film that does have some good moments. The movie is rated PG (it wouldn’t be today, but standards change) and doesn’t have as much gore or nudity but it does have a few genuine scares (I particularly like the woman running at the hook-handed coroner). The movie is hindered by some basic genre problems however.

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Obligatory blaxploitation nightclub scene…

The blaxploitation genre is just that. It did get some actors working that probably wouldn’t have found work at the time in other genres, and with the growing acceptance of blaxploitation, it provided a stepping stone for a lot of actors into other genres. I also feel that blaxploitation brought a lot of interesting stylistic choices (mostly due to the low budget) to mainstream movies which also was a good turn.  Directors like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have gone back to these style of films (which often crisscrossed with grindhouse films) for inspiration.

blacula-death

Blacula…you’ve looked better…

The problems with Blacula are also tied to the genre. You get a lot of stereotypes and a lot of genre stereotypes. There is the obligatory club scene with a “hip” theme song…after Shaft there was no chance of that not happening. The name Blacula was given to as an insult by Dracula, but Blacula comes to empower it…though it is a stupid name. The ending sequence seems strangely paced and the warehouse setting also had a very low budget look that just didn’t work for me.

Blacula is a fun movie, but it isn’t the best or scariest movie you’ll ever see. William Marshall does a nice job embodying with his booming voice and his strong presence (he later brings that presence to another Blaxploitation horror film called Abby in 1974), but Blacula doesn’t quite get over the hump of becoming a movie much better than its origins. Blacula was followed up in 1973 by Scream, Blacula, Scream.

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Related Links:

Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by

Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn’t afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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