BLACULA (1972 United States)

blacula 3 Can there be a title that would sound more promising for fans of 70s cult-material? And cult-stuff this is indeed! This is about as entertaining as it gets for lovers of cult-cinema, and an absolute must-see for all the blaxploitation enthusiast’s out there. Plot and suspense are secondary, of course. But the film delivers in a highly engaging manner.

Btw, the term “Blaxploitation” did not mean the exploitation of black actors/actresses. It meant advertising schemes exploiting the fact that black people are in the films to lure black moviegoers into the theatres. Anyway, its 1780 and the African Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) is on a visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania with his wife Luva (Vonetta McGee). Mamuwalde, who wants to put an end to the slave trade, makes an appeal to Dracula to help him do so.

But he falls on deaf ears, because the evil Count supports slavery and racism. After a subsequent argument, Dracula bites Mamuwalde and locks him in a coffin for eternity. Almost two centuries later, a black/white couple of (extremely out of the closet) gay interior decorators buy several pieces of furniture from Dracula’s castle. This includes the coffin in which Mamuwalde was locked. Back in the United states, they open the coffin, releasing Mamuwalde, who has become a vampire… Blacula! And he subsequently runs into the beautiful Tina (also Vonetta McGee) who is the spitting image of his wife.

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I did not expect extreme suspense, in fact the whole thing is a little comical. The make-up is very effective, however. The atmosphere is generally very cool and typical for the funky 70s. William Marshall fits perfectly into the role of Blacula with his suave manner and baritone voice. So does Thalmus Rasulala, who plays the hero character as a super-cool Shaft-style forensic specialist. This eclectic cast includes Canadian Gordon Pinsent as the none-too-useful Lt. Peters, beautiful ladies Denise Nicholas and Emily Yancy, and favourite Old Hollywood character actor Elisha Cook Jr. as a hook-handed coroner. His demise is the most scary for me. Slow motion sequences can creep me out.

The Hues Corporation (“Rock the Boat”) provide some pretty good music in a club; their three songs and the “Blacula” theme song are good excuses for buying the soundtrack CD. The movie is as sleaze-less as it is non-gory, however, so don’t expect the amount of sex and nudity that you’re probably used to from blaxploitation cinema. All things considered I have only one regret with “Blacula” – it could have been nastier! With more sex and violence, this could have been a great blaxploitation flick.

But African-American director William Crain did a fine job here. The production values are actually quite decent for a low budget, quickly shot movie, thanks to effective use of shadow- filled urban settings that create good nightmare landscapes. It is still a classic however, and the funky soundtrack and jive – talking 70s style make it even more enjoyable. Highly recommended to all the fans of blaxploitation and cult-cinema out there.

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Comments

  1. I’ve heard about this film but have never seen it. I can tell I need to be that right as it sounds fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

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