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Blacula


Title: Blacula
Year Of Release: 1972
Running Time: 93 minutes
DVD Released By: MGM & 20th Century Fox Home Video
Directed By: William Crain
Writing Credits: Raymond Koenig, Joan Torres

Starring: William Marshall, Denise Nicholas, Vonetta McGee, Gordon Pinsent, Thalmus Rasulala, Elisha Cook Jr.
Taglines:
1. Blacula! - Dracula's Soul Brother!
2. His Bite was outta Sight!
3. Bloodsucker! - Deadlier than Dracula!
4. He's Black! He's Beautiful! He's Blacula!
5. Warm, young bodies will feed his hunger, and hot, fresh blood his awful thirst!
Alternate Titles:
None found

Review Date: 2.15.10

Shadow's Title: "Vampires With Soul"


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Characters
Count Dracula - The legendary Transylvanian vampire. He bites Mamuwalde, transforming him into a fiend like himself, then locks him away in a coffin for nearly two hundred years to suffer from his unfulfilled hunger pains. He's also the one who gives him the name Blacula.
Prince Mamuwalde - An African prince from the Ibani tribe. He travels to Europe to entreat various leaders for their support in abolishing the slave trade. Sadly for him, he goes to Count Dracula for help and ends up transformed into a vampire, while his wife is fated to die a slow death.
Luva - This is Mamuwalde's wife who travels with him to Europe. The poor woman meets a rather ignoble end in Castle Dracula, locked within a tomb with her husband's coffin (he's trapped inside, unable to get out) where she will slowly succumb to a lack of food and water.
Blacula - This is how Mamuwalde appears when he changes into Blacula. As you can see, the transormation involves more than just growing huge fangs. He also seems to have sprouted bushier eyebrows, some sideburns, a slightly expanded 'fro and even developed a widow's peak.
Billy - One of two gay interior decorators (is there any other kind?) that travels to Transylvania and buys up a lot of the items in Castle Dracula in an estate sale before returning to Los Angeles in order to sell it all. Part of the deal was Blacula's coffin. Billy is the first victim once he is released.
Bobby - The other half of the amazingly gay duo. His claim to fame is the massive afro he sports in this film. It's so big, I couldn't get it all within this character shot. He winds up turned into a vampire and finds victims by picking up on additional homosexual men in the area.
Dr. Gordon Thomas - He works for the "Scientific Investigation Division." What it is a division of, I don't know. He is the first to put all the clues together and realize that a vampire is loose in L.A. Then again, the city is positively overflowing with them. They're called studio executives.
Lt. Jack Peters - A member of the LAPD and a friend/colleague of Dr. Thomas. He would never believe a fanciful tale about vampires killing people to explain recent deaths, so Gordon waits and shows him undeniable proof before enlisting his aid in finding and combating Blacula.
Michelle Williams - This is Gordon's girlfriend. She also works with him (which is probably how they met in the first place) as we see her at one point at his office, dressed in a lab coat and looking into a microscope. Michelle's hair ranges from restrained to HUGE during this movie.
Tina Williams - This is Michelle's sister and as you can see, she is the spitting image of Mamuwalde's deceased wife, Luva. When he spots her in modern times, he becomes obsessed with following her and getting to know her. His vicious charm works, as she falls for him by film's end.
Juanita Jones - An unfortunate cab driver that literally runs into Mamuwalde one night when he is chasing after Tina, causing him to loose her. He pays her back by transforming into Blacula and them giving her a fatal hickey. Later, her thawed out corpse goes all vamp on the morgue attendant.
Sam - This overworked fool toils away at the morgue. He has a hook for a right hand, making one wonder just how he lost it. He gets a little distracted and lazy one night when not following through on Gordon's directions for the handling of Juanita's corpse. He later comes to regret it...bigtime.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

The print may be quite small, but make no mistake about it, AIP is responsible for this mess.We start on a dark and stormy night, which is never a good thing in these types of films. We see a large castle and some text reveals that this is Castle Dracula in Transylvania and the year is 1780. Within, the Count is entertaining Prince Mamuwalde and his wife Luva, who have come from Africa. In fact, they are the first guests Dracula has received from the “dark continent.” The Prince wants to see the rich culture of his people brought into the modern world of nations, accepted as an equal and not plundered for slaves. He hopes to enlist Dracula’s help in abolishing the slave trade.

Alas, coming to Count Dracula for aid in what would be deemed a good, decent cause is almost as futile as going to a democrat for a tax cut. The Count sees merit in the slave trade and tries to compliment Mamuwalde by saying how much he would enjoy purchasing a lovely woman like Luva. Naturally, Mamuwalde is insulted and seeing that Dracula will be of no help, decides to leave. Of course, Castle Dracula is like the Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Dracula snaps his fingers and servants spring in to action, seizing Mamuwalde and Luva. The Prince puts up a good fight, throwing Dracula’s henchmen around the room like rag dolls, but eventually they outnumber him and succeed in overpowering him. By this time, Dracula’s harem of fugly vampire women have arrived to grab Luva.

The Count puts the bite on Mamuwalde, which will eventually transform him into a vampire. Placing the Prince in a coffin, Dracula curses him with his own name, saying that he shall now be known as…Blacula. Locking the coffin, Dracula has it and Luva secured within a tomb where she shall slowly die from starvation, the sound of her husbands cries accompanying her to her death. Fade out.

It’s time for the funky music to begin and when I say funky, I really do mean funky. It’s like a leftover musical theme from Shaft or Super Fly. The credits unfold with an animated sequence that could cause some seriously bad trips for those in the audience sampling what Captain James T. Kirk once referred to as “LDS.”

"Now if you just sign the contract, your souls will be mine...er..I mean the antiques will be yours."We return to Transylvania and Castle Dracula, only now it is the present day (1972). Interior decorators Bobby McCoy and Billy Schaffer have traveled from America, looking to buy up all the items in the castle as part of an estate sale. Their guide relates to them the history of Count Dracula and how the Count and his entire household was destroyed by Dr. Van Helsing almost one hundred and fifty years earlier. In their eyes (and once the deal has been signed) this will only increase the value of the antiques they have purchased.

Bobby asks about secret passages and their guide tells them that when the castle was restored, several hidden rooms were found. Next, we see the three of them entering the tomb containing Mamuwalde’s coffin. Billy wants to know if it is included in their deal. The guide says that if they want it, they can take it.

Now we see large crates being unloaded from a ship at the port of Los Angeles. They’re loaded onto a pickup truck, which delivers them to the Andrews Brothers warehouse. I think it is safe to say that this is all the stuff Bobby and Billy bought in Transylvania. Indeed, once it is unloaded, we see the pair eagerly opening up their crates in the darkened warehouse.

Just so you know, Bobby and Billy are gay (and a couple). Then again, they’re interior decorators, so that should have given it away right off the bat (pun not intended given the nature of the villain in this flick).

Billy has this crazy idea of swapping out their guest bed with the coffin and is eager to open it. While Bobby manages to pry open the lock on the coffin, Billy cuts his hand while opening another crate. As the two of them flamboyantly deal with the injury, they fail to notice the coffin opening…from within.

Blacula opens his coffin and rises, taking in his strange new surroundings. One of the very first things he takes note of is the blood dripping from Billy’s arm. He shambles in that direction. The pair FINALLY notice him as he approaches, but all they do is stand and stare in disbelief. Blacula pushes Bobby out of the way and grabs Billy, sinking his teeth into the white boy’s arm. Billy passes out from loss of blood (and eventually dies).

"Tell me where the Ark of the Covenant is at!"Bobby grabs a board and hits Blacula over the back with it. All this does is piss him off even more. Blacula backhands Bobby, who flies into some crates. He tries to pick himself up, but Blacula is quickly upon him. He struggles against Blacula’s grip and finally goes limp. I don’t know if it was just fear that made him pass out or if Blacula used the Vulcan nerve pinch on him. Regardless, now that Bobby is unconscious, Blacula grabs him by his sizable Afro and turns his head to one side, exposing his neck. Then the starving vampire bites him.

Satiated at last, Blacula takes stock of his surroundings once more. He pulls his cape from his coffin and dons it. Then he climbs back inside for a nap, laughing as he pulls the lid closed. Fade out.

Fade in. We’re in some sort of funeral home where a service for Bobby is being held. Mamuwalde observes the body in the open coffin from a hiding place behind a curtain. He fixes his stare on the corpse, working his undead mojo. Bobby’s hand moves, reaching out to grasp the side of the coffin.

Voices are heard and several people walk into the small room. Mr. Swenson the undertaker leads in a small group consisting of Doctor Gordon Thomas, his girlfriend Michelle and her sister Tina. I’m guessing they’re all friends of Bobby. For some reason, Tina is wearing a purple outfit, complete with a hood drawn up over her head, hiding her features. When they notice Bobby’s hand on the edge of the coffin, Swenson just passes it off as a muscle reflex and nothing to worry about. He then explains that the body has not yet been embalmed. He then tidies up the body and leaves.

As Gordon, Michelle and Tina look at Bobby's body, Tina removes her hood. Still peeking from behind the curtain, Mamuwalde sees her face and mutters, “Luva,” to himself. Yes, Tina is the spitting image of the Prince’s long deceased wife.

Michelle and Tina head over to visit Bobby’s mother while Gordon stays to examine the body. Swenson returns and tries to run him off, but Gordon shows his credentials as a doctor with the “Scientific Investigation Division.” Um…the scientific investigation division of what? The word division implies it is a smaller part of a larger organization, but what is that organization? For all the undertaker knows, Gordon could be with scientific investigation division of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Whatever the case may be, Swenson accepts Gordon’s credentials and points out the neck wound on Bobby’s corpse, saying that he worked very hard to make it look natural. Gordon examines the wound while the undertaker describes it as a rat bite. Gordon grills him on the condition of the body, pointing out that Bobby’s veins are empty of blood, his pallor making it clear he has been exsanguinated. He asks about Bobby’s associate, Billy, but the undertaker says that he did not prepare that particular body. Gordon then walks out, ignoring everything else Swenson says to him, prompting the other man to say, “That is the rudest n____r I’ve ever seen in my life,” a frank reminder that this film was made in another time.

Outside, Michelle and Tina are walking down the dark street. Tina begs off, claiming exhaustion. Michelle continues on to Bobby’s mother’s place on her own while Tina heads for home. As she walks along the sidewalk alone in the dark, we see that her purple outfit is accompanied by some purple high-heeled shoes as well as a skirt that shows off her shapely legs. She soon begins to sense that she is not alone. She looks around, but sees no one. She quickens her pace, a crashing sound behind her spurring her into motion. She runs around the corner and collides with…you guessed it…Mamuwalde.

"Stop! My cape is caught in the door!"Mamuwalde calls her Luva, thinking that she is somehow his long lost wife. She breaks free from his grasp and hauls ass down the street. He chases after her and locates her purse, which she had dropped in the course of her frenzied flight. Still not familiar with modern times as much as he should be, he tries to cross the street and is nailed head on by a cab. He is thrown to the ground in a heap.

The cabbie is driven by a black woman, who gets out and helps him to his feet. Once she sees that he is all right, she derides him for walking in front of her vehicle. Mamuwalde is rather upset, as the collision has caused him to lose Tina. He calls the cabbie an imbecile, which sets her off. She tries to rip him a new one, ending her brief tirade by calling him, ‘boy.” Since this is a demeaning insult that goes back to the days of slavery…and he was a big proponent for the abolition of slavery…all this does is anger him further.

When she sees the creepy look in his eyes, accented by his suddenly visible canines, she tries to stammer out an apology. Too late, sister! Mamuwalde has transformed into Blacula – complete with fangs, sideburns and enlarged eyebrows. He grabs her and puts the bite on her.

Elsewhere, Tina has run all the way home where she is forced to jimmy the lock in order to gain entrance. She is not inside very long when there is a fierce pounding at her door. I doubt it’s the Girl Scouts trying to sell their nasty cookies. Tina grabs a kitchen knife and opens the door, hiding behind it. Alas, it is just her sister, Michelle. She tells her sister about the man that “tried to attack” her and that he got her purse.

Over in the warehouse, Blacula returns to his coffin, carrying Tina’s purse. What do you know, it was purple, just like the rest of her outfit. Slowly, he climbs into his coffin and closes the lid.

Day comes and we’re over at the local police precinct. Gordon drops by the morgue to see Sam, one of the medical examiners. He’s gotten a tip from the coroner and has come to see the body of Juanita Jones, who happens to be the cabbie that Blacula chomped on the night before. Sam leads the way to where the body is stored in a cool room. At this juncture I must point out the fact that Sam has a hook for a right hand. It looks almost as bad as the one Lon Chaney Jr. was sporting in The Alligator People. There is a noticeable bulge where the actor’s hand is located. Still, the producers have gone to some lengths to disguise it. I just have to wonder why the character had to have such an appendage. It plays no part in the film at all.

Gordon tells Sam to get coffee and once the other man has gone (after making some questionable comments about the deceased woman’s line of work) he looks over the body, finding two small puncture marks on the neck. A clue!

Next we see Gordon talking to Lt. Jack Peters, telling him that the police have lost the reports on the deaths of Bobby McCoy and Billy Schaffer. Jack calls in another officer and has her hunt down the reports in question. She comes back a minute later and says that they cannot be located. Jack then calls in a Sergeant Barnes and has him go over to the Southwest Division and find the missing reports. Oddly enough, a map of Staten Island can be seen on the wall as Barnes leaves. Jack then wants to know what Gordon is looking into, inquiring into the connection between the deaths of Bobby McCoy and Juanita Jones. He suggests maybe it’s the Black Panthers. Gordon dismisses the notion, implying that “two faggot interior decorators and a lady cabdriver” have nothing to do with the Panthers. Before leaving, Gordon asks that Barnes bring those reports to the club tonight, as it is Michelle’s birthday and that is where he will be.

"Well our initial tests were promising, but our new formula for hair activator is not holding up in the long run."Wherever this scientific investigation division is that Gordon works for, Michelle works there, too. We see them both in the same room, which is some sort of lab. She’s working with a microscope as he calls and makes arrangements to have Bobby McCoy’s body picked up that evening for an autopsy. She then tells him of how Tina got “hassled” on her way home the previous evening.

Pow. Just like that we’re at the club, were a musical act is singing and dancing on stage, quite loudly I may add. In reality, this group is The Hues Corporation, a pop and soul trio from the time. Their most famous song was Rock the Boat. We are subjected to a few minutes of musical theater as the group belts out a song and club patrons dance around. At a table, Gordon, Michelle and Tina enjoy some drinks. Through the front door comes Mamuwalde, who has an employee call Tina over to him. He smiles and returns her purse to her. She invites him over to the table with the others. Um…how did he know she was going to be at the club that night?

Mamuwalde introduces himself to the others and joins them at their table. Small talk is made, during which Mamuwalde lets it slip that he first saw Tina at the mortuary and followed her because she resembles his lost wife.

At the mortuary-funeral home-whatever, Mr. Swenson the undertaker discovers that Bobby’s body is missing when two cops show up to collect it for the autopsy. He calls Gordon at the club and informs him of the apparent theft. Gordon returns to the table and tells the others that Bobby’s body has gone missing. “Maybe he wasn’t dead,” intones Mamuwalde. When pressed by Gordon, he just says it was a passing thought.

At this point, some jive turkey fool named Skillet joins them at their table to partake of the champagne. Nancy, a woman who works for the club, snaps a few photos of the group. The flash upsets Mamuwalde, who stands and says he must be going. He walks off, but Tina follows him. He asks Tina to meet him at the club the following night and she agrees. He kisses her hand and as he does, Nancy snaps a photo of them. Mamuwalde glares at her and then exits. Nancy then tells the others that she’ll take the film to her studio and develop them.

Nancy exits the club and walks home, which luckily enough is located right next door. Talk about a short commute. Inside there is a darkroom where she gets to work on developing the pictures. At one point she stops, thinking she hears something. She peeks out of the darkroom (which is only separated from the rest of the place by a heavy curtain), but sees nothing. She returns to work, unaware that someone has entered the house.

Back in the darkroom, the photo she took of Tina and Mamuwalde develops, but the only person that can be seen in it is Tina. “Where’s that big dude with the cape?” she asks aloud. She’s about to find out! Turning, she opens the curtains and who should be there? Yup! Blacula! Well, actually, he’s on the far side of the room and he comes rushing at her, arms outstretched, as if he was riding a skateboard. He grabs her, bites her and takes the photo from her hand, balling it up in his fist.

The obvious question at this point is this: how in the hell did Blacula know that he would not appear in the photo taken by Nancy? This guy has only been in the 20th century for a matter of days (three or four at most). Since he has to spend daylight hours snoring away in his coffin and can only come out at night, that really limits the time he has to learn about this brave new world. When would he have discovered that he would not appear in photos? Did some other poor fool snap a picture of him before he snapped their neck? Or is it just some sort of instinctive knowledge he possesses now that he is a bloodsucking fiend?

Larry hated having to drug his dates before bringing them home, but it sure beat the blow-up doll.Sergeant Barnes now pulls up to the club, having retrieved those police reports Gordon wanted. As he gets out of his car, he sees Nancy stumbling out of her front door to collapse on the front porch. He walks to her and helps her up. She pleads for help and he picks her up, ready to carry her back inside. As he holds her, she looks at his bare neck and then bares her new fangs before sinking them into his flesh. Ha! Usually women wait until you’ve married them before sucking the life from you.

The next morning Gordon is back visiting Lt. Jack Peters at his office. Jack asks him if he got the reports, but Gordon says no. Jack says that he sent them over to the club in Barnes’ possession, but Gordon confirms that he did not receive them. They talk some about Bobby’s missing body and Gordon’s desire to dig up Billy Schaffer’s corpse for an autopsy.

Later in his own office, Gordon and Michelle bring in a stack of books on ghouls that they got from the library. The phone rings, which turns out to be Jack, saying he could not get the proper permits for Gordon to exhume Billy’s body. Once he’s off the phone with Jack, Gordon turns to Michelle and says that he has something heavy to lay on her. He tells her that they need to dig up Billy’s body…tonight. She tells him that there is no way she is going to accompany him on such a task. He finally persuades her with lots and lots of kisses (and most likely, lots and lots of subsequent jewelry). She heads home to change into some old clothes. When she’s gone, he looks over some of the books he got from the library, including one entitled The Dead Ones, which is no doubt a tome detailing the history of game show hosts.

Night falls and Mamuwalde shows up at Tina’s door, saying that he could not wait until later at the club to see her. She invites him in (oops!). There is a long boring conversation that is best summed up like this: she admits to feeling a connection to him that she doesn’t quite understand, so he tells her that she is Luva, his wife reincarnated; and then details some of the history of their tribe in Africa as well as their own tragic past involving Count Dracula, which includes his transformation into IRS agent…er…blood sucking fiend. He goes to leave, saying that he will not take her by force and that she must come to him of her own free will. She asks him to stay with her and soon the two are kissing away like horny teenagers.

Wow, Greg Kinnear's career has really taken a nose dive.Out at the graveyard, Gordon and Michelle are busy digging up Billy’s grave. Well, he’s doing all the digging while she sits around and bitches about being there. Eventually he unearths the coffin and when he pries back the lid, Billy comes flying out like some sort of undead jack-in-the-box. His skin is now green and he sports some rather large fangs. He attacks Gordon with some sort of flying hug maneuver, but Gordon pushes him away and then knocks him upside the head with the shovel. Billy falls back into his coffin and Gordon quickly produces a wooden stake to thrust into his chest, driving it home with a couple of whacks from the shovel. All this time, Michelle is screaming, thinking that Gordon is killing Billy. Gordon has to explain to her that Billy had been killed by a vampire and was neither living or dead. All they did was put him out of his misery.

Michelle realizes that this means Bobby is a vampire, too; on the loose somewhere in the city. She advises Gordon to tell Jack Peters, but he knows that they will have to show Jack some tangible proof in order to get his help. Gordon then remembers the cabbie, Juanita Jones and high tails it to a pay phone where he calls Sam at the morgue. He tells the mortician to take Juanita Jones’ body out of the deep freeze, but to leave her locked within the room, adding that he will be coming over with Lt. Peters.

Sam follows Gordon’s instructions, but gets distracted by another phone call and fails to lock the door after removing the body from the freezer. You all know what that means.

Gordon drives to Jack’s place where Michelle stays with Jack’s wife. Then he and Jack head for the morgue…where Juanita’s body has been thawing out, in an unlocked room. We see the body begin to move. The phone rings and Sam answers it, his back against a long hallway. The room with the corpse is at the far end of this corridor. As he speaks, we hear the door to that room open.

The next part is sure to scare the crap out of any small kids in the room. When I first saw this movie, it certainly tested my ability to refrain from soiling myself. Juanita Jones, clad only in a loose smock – and somehow having divested herself of the toe tag that was affixed to her foot earlier - comes running down the hall, right at the camera. This is done in slow motion, so the horrific look on her face – one of pure bloodlust – can be seen and appreciated. Sam turns and sees her, but it is too late for him. He screams, she screams, she grabs him and things fade out. One can assume that he became an unwilling blood donor.

We return to Mamuwalde and Tina, making out at her place after a night of Boom Boom. He decides to bail cuz it’s almost daylight. She tells him that she loves him before he goes. Before we go any further, I have a question concerning vampires and sex. If Mamuwalde is now a vampire and vampires are not really living creatures – having no beating heart – then how exactly does his blood get down below so he can rise to the occasion? Anyone?

"Keep your religon to yourself."Gordon and Jack arrive at the morgue, but there is no sign of Sam. There is just some blood on the wall near the phone. They look around some and head into the room where the freezer is located. There is a body on a nearby table, covered from head to toe with a sheet. Jack approaches it and pulls back the covering. It’s Juanita Jones, who jumps up and attacks, but Gordon is instantly there with a crucifix in hand to repel her. He backs her into a corner and then opens the window blinds, which let in the morning sunlight. She screams and waves her arms around plenty before keeling over dead. Gordon reveals to Jack that this is what he has been looking into and that Jack had to see it for himself in order to believe it.

A little bit later, they are discussing vampires and Gordon says that they multiply geometrically. He realizes that this explains why Bobby’s body vanished from the mortuary: he was/is a vampire. The same with the recently missing Sam. They make plans to put out APB’s on the missing men and swamp the city with officers and cops come nightfall. Gordon then leaves to go get some sleep.

That night at the club, Gordon, Michelle and Tina sit and watch The Hues Corporation again. Oddly enough, there are several people in the crowd that were in the club the other night as well and are dressed exactly the same as they were two nights ago. Additionally, they seem to be occupying the same seats! You think those club scenes and these club scenes were shot on the same day?

Mamuwalde enters and Tina rushes to greet him. He joins them at their table, ordering a Bloody Mary when the waitress takes his order. HA! Gordon brings up the topic of witchcraft, voodoo, black magic, devil worship, vampires and reality TV shows. Well, maybe he didn’t mention that last one. I threw that in since it seemed to fit the topic so well. They talk about vampires and Gordon lets slip the fact that the cops think a vampire may be involved in the recent killings and will be organizing a search for the creature’s coffin.

Skillet drops by again, perhaps looking to score more free booze. Mamuwalde takes this opportunity to leave with Tina. When they have gone, Skillet mentions how strange Mamuwalde seems and then says that no one has seen Nancy since the other night. Skillet says that if Gordon happens to see her, he is to tell her that “Big Skillet” has something for her. Considering that Nancy lives about fifty feet from the club, I don’t see why he can’t walk over and check on her himself.

Heading over to Nancy’s nearby house is exactly what Gordon now does, as when we see him next, he is in her darkroom, looking at the ruined equipment. He finds a photo negative from the night of Michelle’s birthday. It shows Tina alone when it should be showing her and Mamuwalde. Remembering the other man’s reaction to the camera, Gordon realizes that Mamuwalde is the vampire he is looking for. His next realization is more frightening: Tina is currently with Mamuwalde.

"Looks like he's passed out from one too many crullers."Gordon and Michelle rush home, where Tina and Mamuwalde are embracing. Gordon attacks him and Mamuwalde flees. He rushes out of the apartment building and down the street. Two cops see him hauling ass and call for him to stop. I bet they would not have done so if he had been a white vampire. They give chase and one catches up to him, but Mamuwalde has transformed into Blacula, and the cop meets his end. Gordon and the second cop find his body, but no sign of Blacula.

Back at Gordon’s place, Jack has arrived and is being told just who the vampire is. Tina becomes upset when she learns Mamuwalde has killed a cop. With no clue where Blacula’s coffin is, all they can do is wait. Soon a call comes in: a pair of cops has spotted Bobby McCoy out on the town, picking up a “friend.” Gordon and Jack rush out, the former telling Michelle to make sure Tina stays put no matter what.

The police continue to tail Bobby and the unfortunate man he has picked up. They lose him but soon realize that Bobby is taking him back to the warehouse where it all began. Numerous police cars converge on the building and as Gordon and Jack head inside, they see Sergeant Barnes is in the group. Uh oh!

So now Gordon, Jack, Barnes and some redshirt…er…I mean some other cop walk through the warehouse. Eventually they find the exsanguinated body of the man Bobby led there. As they bend over to examine the corpse, Bobby himself jumps out from behind some crates. He’s not the only one, however. Within the seconds, the four men find themselves surround by a dozen or so vampires.

The redshirt…er…the other cop, whose name we learn is Johnson, fires off his gun, but naturally it does no good. Several vampires tackle him to the floor and put the bite on him. The remaining bloodsuckers close in on the others, but Gordon finds some crates containing some old oil lamps. Hurling these like Molotov cocktails, he and Jack begin igniting the place, sending crates…and vampires up in flames. There’s got to be a joke in there somewhere, since Bobby no doubt lured some of the victims there on the pretext of desiring homosexual sex. Flaming vampires?

Barnes reveals himself as a vampire and gets the BBQ treatment. Gordon dispatches another with the classic wooden stake through the heart maneuver. As he and Jack run like hell for the exit, they nearly collide with Mamuwalde. The African Prince tells them that he has moved his coffin elsewhere. He adds that he could easily dispose of them both, but he has an urgent appointment elsewhere (a teeth cleaning at the dentist?). With that he flaps his cape and transforms into a rubber bat on a string before flying away.

At home the next day, Gordon is trying to stress to Tina that Mamuwalde is dangerous and has killed innocent people. Tina is caught in the middle, aware of the danger Mamuwalde represents, but unable to push aside her feelings for him. She finally relents and acknowledges that he must be apprehended.

"I just flew in from Transylvania and boy are my arms tired."That night there is a strong police presence around their apartment building as they figure Blacula will be coming for Tina. Indeed, Blacula stands atop a nearby building, taking it all in. Using some sort of telepathy, he communicates with Tina and tells her where to meet him. He transforms into a bat again, but this time a neighbor spots him. When she cries out about the giant bat she just saw, Gordon hears her and realizes Blacula is close by. They check on Tina only to find her room empty and her window open.

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

Tina walks down the streets in a trance, a giant bat watching over her. A police cruiser spots her and watches her enter an underground chemical plant. They relay this information and soon the cops have descended on this location as if it was the last Krispy Kreme store on Earth. Gordon tells everyone to keep their eyes open for Blacula’s coffin.

Deep in the bowels of the plant, one cop gets off a few shots at Mamuwalde and Tina as they flee. Bullets don’t hurt vampires, but for Tina, they are deadly. She falls to the ground, mortally wounded. After Mamuwalde takes out the cop by beating the living hell out of him, he turns to Tina, who lies dying. Not wanting to lose his Luva again, there is only one option left for ensuring their future together. He bites her, transforming her into another vampire. When the deed is done, Blacula calls out to Gordon, saying that he and all the police are dead. None shall escape his vengeance.

Striking from the shadows, Blacula takes out several cops through various means (electrocution, crushed by heavy barrels, thrown from a great height) and even tosses the chemical plant manager around like a doll.

Eventually the good guys locate Blacula’s coffin. Gordon and Jack approach while Michelle hangs back with some cops. Timing their efforts, they throw back the lid and plunge a wooden stake into the occupant’s heart. Alas, this turns out to be Tina, now a vampire. She sits up and screams. Michelle, seeing her sister impaled, lets out a horrified scream of her own. The cops escort her out as Gordon and Jack watch Tina scream her last and then die.

What a world! What a world!These bones will return in "Scream, Blacula, Scream."Mamuwalde/Blacula now shows up. He gazes down at Tina, whose features have reverted back to their normal human appearance. He kisses her hand and bids her farewell. Gordon begins to pull a crucifix from his coat pocket, but Blacula says that there is no need for it. He turns and walks to the stairs that lead outside.

Ascending the stairs, he walks up straight into the bright sunlight, struggling to take the last few steps. At the top he collapses and dies. Gordon and Jack arrive and watch as his body melts away to nothing but bones.

The End.


Review

Blaxploitation – the new genre of films that burst upon the scene in the early 70’s and targeted at urban African Americans – had many good and bad things going for it. While it highlighted some good music, culture and brought talented actors into the spotlight, it also tended to adhere to negative racial stereotypes. I’ll leave the in depth discussion on its legacy for someone else. Suffice it to say that Blaxploitation crossed several cinematic fields: crime, action, comedy and yes, even horror. Blacula may be the preeminent horror flick from the field.

Aside from a brief opening segment set in the 18th century and used to explain Blacula’s origins, the movie takes place in (then) modern day Los Angeles as evidenced by the raging fashions and hairstyles of the early 70’s. I haven’t seen that many Afros in quite some time. Looking past the music, clothing and urban slang that helps categorize this film, and you’ll find a movie that has a couple of genuine creepy spots. The again, maybe I’m just fondly remembering the first time I caught this movie and how I reacted to it at the time.

Blacula AKA Mamuwalde is a tragic character. He starts off trying to earn freedom for his people and winds up transformed into a vampire and locked in a coffin for nearly two centuries. Anyone would be grumpy after waking up from that extended nap. Upon awakening, he must deal with the fact that he is in a world far removed from his own, though he seems to adapt to it quite fast. Finding Tina, who he believes is some sort of reincarnation of his lost wife, Luva, he tries to find that one little bit of happiness that is left to him in this world. Ultimately, he is denied that happiness. Because of the unjust and undeserved actions taken against him, Mamuwalde is a more sympathetic character than your usual movie villain. Even though we know he is a monster who kills innocents, we cannot help but see the lost man inside, the one yearning for love and happiness. It’s hard to cheer this monster’s demise when he walks into the sunlight, after all the crap life has thrown at him.

The character would not be nearly as interesting if it were not for actor William Marshall. Truly someone who never got the attention he deserved, his deep voice and commanding presence really help bring Blacula to life…or to un-life as the case may be. His performance brings out the subtle nuances that make Blacula more than just a monster. At one moment he is frightening and dangerous, and then minutes later he is gentle and sad. It’s no wonder the character was resurrected for a sequel.

In the end, Blacula may be remembered more for its Blaxploitation roots, but that should not dissuade anyone from seeing it. There is a certain charm to the picture and in between the scary moments and the more human ones, there is a quick moving film that never fails to entertain on some level.

 

Expect To See:
Castles - The opening of the film features a couple of short scenes set in Count Dracula's castle in both the 18th and 20th centuries. Not much, but enough to warrant this icon.
Dancing - At one point the main characters head out to a night club for a birthday celebration. There is a musical act performing, which leads many folks to dance...badly.
Gore - This one is nearly unnecessary. It only qualifies because of one very brief shot at the end of a vampire melting in the sunlight. The maggots really help sell the shot.
Romance - This one is for the romance that develops between Prince Mamuwalde/Blacula and Tina, who he thinks is the reincarnation of his dead wife, Luva.
Haunted Houses - There is no actual haunted house in this film, but there is one large, dimly lit warehouse, chock full of blood sucking vampires, to fill in.
Underground Hijinks - The final segment of the movie takes place in the largest underground chemical plant I have ever seen. This place must be 20 levels deep and a mile across.
Vampires - Lots of vampires here. Some are black, some are white. Some male, some female. Some are even gay, which led me to refer them as Fagpires when I was 12 years old.
Violence - While the violence is not overly graphic, there are lots of deaths here and not all of them are from vampire bites. Plenty involve other ways to give up the ghost.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 14
Vampires killed: 8
Alcoholic drinks consumed (excluding extras): 13
Smokes (excluding extras): 5
Uses of the “N” word: 2
Derogatory terms for homosexuals: 3
Fist fights: 4
Times Blacula turns into a bat: 2
Total gunshots fired: 18
Total inches of Afros seen in film: undetermined

04 Mins – Where the hell is Buffy when you need her?
07 Mins – Dig that groovy music!
18 Mins – Just a quick snack and then back to bed.
23 Mins – Cue up the funky chase music.
24 Mins – Cab vs. Vampire. Cab wins.
47 Mins – Did she steal Captain Kirk’s uniform?
52 Mins – Light from the camera crew can be seen.
61 Mins - There's a map of Staten Island on the wall? This is LA!
69 Mins – Is everything in that kitchen the same ugly green color?
86 Mins - Shocking.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time the name "Mamuwalde" is said, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

"Yeesh. It's time I get a new
harem. These chicks are fugly."


"I just want to check his wallet
for the ten bucks he owed me."


"That's it. I'm tired of these damn
girl scouts at my door, peddling
their crappy cookies."


 
"She's singing! Better duck before
you get hit with spit."

"Excuse me, but do you serve
Steak Tartare?"

"Tell me again why you're digging
a latrine in your backyard?"


 
Most patients ran screaming when
the doctor revealed the anal
examination equipment.


 
Invasion of the Afro-Zombies.

"This is for Rodney King!"

Ugrading the police computers to
Windows 7 was more dangerous
than it sounded.

Jada Pinkett Smith?

"...must...reach...sunblock..."

 

Immortal Dialog

Gordon explains to Michelle why staking Billy was a good thing.

Gordon: “He wasn’t alive or dead. We just put him out of his misery.”

Shadow’s Comment: So that's why Jimmy Carter failed to get re-elected.


Blacula goes clubbing.

Waitress: “Hi. What’ll you have?”
Blacula: “Make it a Bloody Mary.”

Shadow’s Comment: Uh...you do know that there's no actual blood in those things, right?

 

Keep In Mind
  • 192-year old vampires locked in coffins are a breeze to get through customs.
  • Vampires can drain all the blood from your body with a single bite…in about ten seconds flat.
  • Women should always ensure their clothes, shoes and purse match before leaving the house.
  • The basic tools needed to break into any apartment are stored just feet away in an open closet.
  • Vampires have glass jaws.
  • Telepathy sounds like a high-pitched whistle.
  • It's entirely possible to take several deep breaths after being stabbed directly in the heart.
  • Male vampires melt in direct sunlight. Females just keel over dead.



This Film & Me

I remember reading about this movie long before I actually saw it. Of course, since we’re talking about the late 70’s and early 80’s, a “long” time in those days was anything longer than six months. I can’t recall all the specifics, but I’m fairly sure that I first saw this film when it was run on KTVU’s (channel 2 out of Oakland, CA) late night Creature Features show, during the time when it was hosted by John Stanley. I stayed up late to watch it and was generally enthralled by the film, finding it somewhat freaky. In fact, there was one moment that I found frightening and that was the scene where the female cabbie, now a vampire, runs in slow motion down the hallway toward the camera. The combination of music, sound FX (her scream) and the freaky look on her face sent a chill down my spine. That moment always remained in my memory during all the intervening years. I also remember describing the movie to a friend a few days later, laughing at the notion of gay vampires. I never saw the film again after that, not until I found the DVD – which included the sequel – for five bucks at Walmart last month. Even now, at age 40, I found that slow motion scene somewhat freaky.

Shadow's rating: Seven Tombstones



The Good

  • A few genuinely scary moments
  • William Marshall's commanding voice and presence

The Bad

  • Giant rubber bat
  • Set in Los Angeles, but obviously shot in part in New York City

The Ugly

  • 70's fashions and hairstyles
  • Derogatory terms for blacks and gays

 

 

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