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Blacula (1972)

April 28th, 2006 · No Comments

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American International Pictures bring you the tale of African prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall, before he played the King of Cartoons on Pee-wee’s Playhouse) who, on a visit to Transylvania in the 17th century, is bitten by Dracula when he fails to sway the count on the subject of abolition.

A pair of swishy interior decorators buy the Count’s furniture and ship a coffin to present day L.A., where “Blacula” emerges and starts painting the town red. The suave Mamuwalde sets his sights on Tina (the lovely Vonetta McGee) who is a mirror image of his former wife.

Thalmus Rasulala turns in fine work as our hero, a medical examiner whose girlfriend (Denise Nicholas) is Tina’s sister. He suspects there is something unusual about the corpses turning up with neck punctures and investigates.

Directed by William Crain – who would go on to helm episodes of Starsky & Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard – and written by Raymond Koenig and Joan Torres, this staple of the Blaxploitation genre is actually not played for giggles. The inherent campiness of the story is lost on the characters and played straight.

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Blacula is not a bad horror film. In fact, the vampire attacks are delivered with impressive creepiness and style. As Rasulala and a police lieutenant become aware that there’s a vampire epidemic going around, there’s an eerie, Stephen King/Salem’s Lot tension in the film as the heroes try to figure out their next move when no one else is liable to believe them.

Much of the dialogue and supporting cast are completely wooden, but Gene Page provided a slick funk soundtrack, including the opening titles tune – “Blacula (The Stalkwalk)” – set to an amusing animated sequence. The Hues Corporation show up to perform two songs in the club scenes, providing forgettable R&B vocals. And though Blacula fries himself in the sun in the last shot, that wouldn’t deter AIP from a sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, with Marshall and Pam Grier.

Tags: Blaxploitation

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