Writers: Raymond Koenig & Joan Torres
Director: William Crain
Producers: Samuel Z. Arkoff & Joseph T. Narr
Starring: William Marshall, Denise Nicholas, Vonetta McGee, Gordon Pinsent, Thalmus Rasulala
Released: August 25th, 1972
Greetings friends! This week is a special one indeed! I’ll be taking a look at the first blaxploitation film that ever piqued my interest, and has become a favorite of mine over the years. Listen, one Halloween, my family and I just stayed in rather than go out, we all sat on the couch together, and as I flipped through the channels, guess what was on? You bet, it was Blacula! Of course, no one else was as excited as I was, but hey, it was an experience! OK, enough reminiscing, let’s get to this awesome piece of 1970’s gold!
Our story begins in 1780, as we see Castle Dracula in the mountains. Inside, Count Dracula is entertaining two guest that are seeking his help. Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall), and his bride, Luva (Vonetta McGee), have come to the home of Count Dracula to meet with other dignitaries, and try to persuade them to help stop the slave trade. Dracula doesn’t seem to think that’s a good idea, so he and Mamuwalde are at odds. Dracula does tell the prince that he would pay a good chunk of change for his “delicious” wife. Mamuwalde takes offense to this, and the next thing you know, Dracula’s lackeys are fighting with Mamuwalde. They use superior numbers to knock him out, and then Dracula bites him, and curse him to become, Blacula! He also locks Luva in the crypt with the coffin that holds Mamuwalde, so she’s helpless to save him, and he’s also helpless to save her.
Fast forward to modern times (1972), and we see two interior decorators in Transylvania, bidding on the contents of Castle Dracula. They buy everything, including the coffin. They then have everything transported back to Los Angeles. As they rummage through their buys, suddenly, the coffin opens, and out pops Blacula! He bites those two guys, and then heads back into the coffin. As the funeral for the two dead guys is taking place, Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), Tina Williams (Vonetta McGee), and her sister, Michelle (Denise Nicholas), enter to pay their last respects to their friends. Lurking in the next room, is Blacula, and he sees Tina, and she’s an exact mirror image of his dead wife, Luva. He decides she must be his dead wife reincarnated, so he then sets out to win her over. They leave the funeral home, and Tina heads home. On her way, she’s approached by Mamuwalde, but gets frightened, and runs away. She drops her purse, and then bolts for her apartment.
The next scene shows up the local night club, and Tina, Michelle, and Gordon are having a good time. The next thing you know, Mamuwalde shows up, and brings Tina’s purse to her, and apologizes for startling her the prior day. He then joins their dinner party, but is quickly turned off by the flashes of a photographer, and one of the club’s regulars. The photographer tries to snap a pic of Blacula, but when she heads to her house to develop it, she sees Blacula is missing. Before she can even blink, she’s accosted by him, and left for dead.
As the body count rises, Tina falls in love with Mamuwalde. She even wont give him up after he kills a cop! As you can imagine, things escalate, and a crazy battle at a warehouse breaks out, followed by the final war between Blacula and the cops at a chemical plant! Death, destruction, and the greatest vampire to ever appear in a blaxploitation movie!
Alright here are my thoughts:
Listen, I know its sounds silly, but this movie really does have a decent story! Not only that, but the scenery, clothing, lingo, and all around atmosphere are groovy! William Marshall does a great job at playing a vampire. His incredible voice commands the set every time he speaks! And of course, Vonetta McGee (below) and Denise Nicholas are very easy on the eyes! The music score is good too, and definitely reflects the times. The title sequence has the best music for sure! The sequel, Scream, Blacula Scream, is a decent flick, but not quite as good as the original. We do get to see 70’s icon Pam Grier in that one, so it’s worth a look! Overall, if you’re a fan of anything 70’s, you need to see this one, and you can grab the double pack for around $5, so there’s no excuse! And remember, “His bite was outta sight”!