Directed by William Crain
On Dual Format as part of Blacula: The Complete Collection
In 1780, Mamuwalde (William Marshall), an African prince, visits Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to persuade him to support his cause to stop the slave trade. Offended by Mamuwalde, he turns the prince into a vampire, Blacula, cursing him with everlasting life and thirst for blood. Mamuwalde’s wife Luva (Vonetta McGee) is forced to watch her husband be locked inside a coffin and eventually dies next to it after they are imprisoned.
Fast-forward to 1972, two camp interior designers purchase the estate of Dracula, believing the legend to be an urban myth. Transporting the contents of the castle back to LA, the duo find the coffin they thought would make a great piece of furniture is in fact occupied! Mamuwalde, or Blacula as he is now known, feasts upon modern day Los Angeles but ends up meeting a young woman named Tina who he believes is the reincarnation of his beloved late wife Luva. Will his love overpower his lust for blood and will his existence in L.A. be discovered?
With a title of Blacula amidst the Blaxploitation era, this horror thriller takes part of the iconic Dracula story and gives it a funkadelic spin topped with an afro. With cool clothes and soulful charm, this version of the tale ventures more into the comedy or entertainment category than horror but still manages to have suspenseful dark elements to keep in line with its original material.
The main bulk of the storyline is that of Mamuwalde’s love for Luva, or Tina as her modern era counterpart is called. Having already lost her once, he refuses to lose her again. As a smooth talking, sophisticated gentleman, it isn’t long before Tina is under his charm. But whilst his intentions are pure, his lust for blood is insatiable as he hunt down various L.A. residents to suck their blood!
There’s hardly any blood in this version of the Dracula tale, but we are treated to a few bat transformations that will tickle the viewer. Event he hand-to-hand combat scenes are cheesy with the punches over-exaggerated as well as the performances of those on the receiving end. It’s all very camp and you expect it to be with a film titled Blacula.
Whilst I found Blacula enjoyable and tongue-in-cheek, I was disappointed that it wasn’t as fun or scary as I had envisioned. I felt the film focused on the romantic plot thread a little too much and would have loved to have seen a more vicious Blacula with may be a little bit more of the red stuff. The music in the movie though was spot on with some terrific live numbers with incredible enthusiastic dancing to boot!
Blacula is very much style over substance and whilst its narrative may not be as fleshed out as one would hope, its funkadelic soul keeps the viewer entertained which is what the Blaxpolitation genre is all about. William Marshall’s performance as Mamuwalde is played with such effortless grace and the way in which he switches his personality from suave to sucker as Blacula is captivating.
Eureka Entertainment have released Blacula as part of a dual format release which also includes sequel Scream, Blacula, Scream. Blacula: The Complete Collection features a crisp high definition presentation with trailers for each movie and a 32-page booklet with writing and rare achival imagery.