I remember coming across this movie in the TV guide when I was a kid and presuming it was a comedy, but I don’t recall having much memory of actually watching it. I saw it last night for the first time and it still didn’t bring back any memories, which has me wondering now if it was the sequel I saw some portion of instead.
The movie starts in 1780 with Prince Mamuwalde’s (William H. Marshall) (aka Blacula) visiting Dracula about doing away with the slave trade. Here we find out not only is Dracula evil, as we already knew, but here we find out he’s also a racist as he balks at Mamuwalde’s intentions and even gets angered to the point where he bites the poor man, cursing him forever to be one of the bloodsucking undead and proclaiming him, “Blacula!”
Mamuwalde had his wife, Luva (Vonetta McGee), with him at the time of the visit, so not only is he cursed with the affliction of the vampire and entombed in a coffin in Dracula’s basement, his wife is also imprisoned with him, but she dies a “natural” death.
Cut to modern day 1972 and two interior designers are visiting Dracula’s castle and buying up what they can. They find Blacula’s coffin and like it so much they have it shipped to Los Angeles. When Blacula (thank God no one calls him that in the movie) awakens he vampirizes both men and goes in search of more victims.
During the calling hours for one of the discovered victims he sees a woman who looks exactly like his dead wife and thus it begins . . . Blacula’s mission is to convince this Tina that she’s the reincarnation of his wife and to get her to take a long walk on the dark side with him.
A Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala) ends up being Blacula’s Van Helsing; he’s a pathologist who suspects vampirism right off the bat after examining the bodies.
Since Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) had come out before Blacula I noticed they cribbed the scene where Yorga’s coffin is loaded into the back of this truck and driven away from the loading dock. I kept looking at that scene and wondering where the hell I had seen it before.
Blacula is an okay movie, that’s all I can say about it.
Now, Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973), is an entirely different story. This was a much better film, a more contained and personal tale for Blacula and unlike the Count Yorga sequel this one explains how Blacula is resurrected, making it a true sequel. And how does he get back in action in this one?
When the movie starts off this woman, Lisa, and a bunch of other people, are mourning the death of this old voodoo priestess. This other dude, Willis (Richard Lawson), seems really pissed the old woman didn’t name a successor and goes into a rage when Lisa states it’s going to be her and all the other members state they will back her too.
Willis vows revenge and leaves.
This revenge entails retrieving these bones from this old man, holing up in a home that looks a lot like Yorga’s digs from his sequel and performing a voodoo ritual that Willis seems to have some doubts about.
From the implication those bones were Blacula’s and soon the vamp appears and turns Willis into his bitch. Once he meets Lisa, however, his mission in this new movie is getting her to exorcise the vampire demon from his body. Like the first movie, the hero, Justin Carter (Don Mitchell), is connected to the police, here he’s Lisa boyfriend and an ex-cop, but is pulled back into the force once blood drained bodies start showing up with bite marks in the neck.
At the very end, Mamuwalde finally accepts his cheesy “Blacula” moniker and even proclaims it loudly in a moment during his face off with Carter.
Speaking of Yorga, the director of the sequel, The Return Of Count Yorga (1971), helmed this movie. I’ve never been a big fan of Yorga’s sequel, I personally find the first one infinitely more creepy, but it has grown on me a lot in the intervening years and using the director of that one for this one was a pretty good idea.
Until these two movies show up on our shores, fans of them will have to go overseas and buy Eureka Entertainment’s DVD/Blu-ray combo. It’s a double feature of both movies, and it will be streeting on October 27th.
The release is region code B and you’ll need a region free player to play it if you’re not a UK resident.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—English LPCM Stereo—English SDH subtitles.
The transfers on both flicks look really good, but I didn’t much care for the audio on the first film. The audio on the second sounded a lot better though.
As for extras you get the movie’s trailers and a featurette titled, Kim Newman On Blacula (24:19). Author and film critic, Newman, dissects both films and shows us how some later vampire movies were actually inspired by Blacula, namely Coppola’s Dracula (1992) which has the same plot as the first Blacula, with Dracula looking for his lost re-incarnated love, and Salem’s Lot (1979) that copies a scene from Blacula where a corpse in the morgue is confronted and put down.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a remake of Blacula with Samuel L. Jackson playing the vamp and Wesley Snipes playing his “Van Helsing.”