Urban action and fatal attraction give rise to a groove from beyond the grave in this funkadelic, fangadelic Soul Cinema sensation! The eternally cool William Marshall puts a fresh spin on the age-old legend of the vampire... more », condemned to wander the earth with an insatiable lust for blood. In 1780, African Prince Mamuwalde (Marshall) pays a visit to Count Dracula in Transylvania, seeking his support in ending the slave trade. Instead, the evil count curses his noble guest and transforms him into a vampire! Released from his coffin nearly two centuries later by a pair of luckless interior decorators, Mamuwalde emerges as "Blacula," one strange dude strollin' the streets of L.A. on a nightly quest for human blood!« less
"I've always had a particular fondness for this film which I believe was a "first" in a lot of ways in 1972, but rather sadly it seems to now be regarded as a bit of a joke by alot of modern audiences more's the pity. Released in early 1972 just as the Vampire cycle of films in both America and England was coming to a close "Blacula", provided a unique twist on the Vampire legend and presented us with a very urbane black Vampire played by deep voiced William Marshall. His vampire is ultimately quite a tragic figure when you learn the facts of how he got to that state and Marshall in his performance is not only up to carrying on the vampire legend but also manages to depict his character for most part in a highly sympathetic light that breathed life into the old legend.
"Blacula", begins it's story in 1780 when the elders of an African race send one of their princes Manuwalde on a special mission to Transylvania to seek out Count Dracula's assistance in putting an end to the illegal slave trade which is being carried out by westerners in their country. Unfortunately Manuwalde and his beautiful wife Luva (Vonetta McGee)do not find a sympathetic audience in the Count who proceeds to attack Luva and when Manuwalde goes to her defense he finds himself knocked out by Dracula's followers and placed in a coffin with Dracula then placing the curse of the undead upon him and closing him up in a sealed chamber of his castle for all eternity. The story then shifts forward to 1972 when Dracula's Castle is being emptied of its contents and two antique dealers purchase not only some of the antiques but as a curio the coffin which holds the undead remains of Manuwalde. Shipped back to Los Angeles the coffin is opened and Manuwalde begins his reign of terror killing both of the young antique sellers. Stalking the streets for fresh victims for his blood lust Manuwalde comes across young Tina who is the absolute reincarnation of his long dead wife Luva and he begins a frantic courtship of her in the hope of getting his beloved wife back. The murders of Los Angeles residents however continue with the same suspicious bite marks appearing on the victims. These arouse the suspicions of Tina's brother in law Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who begins to connect the strange Manuwalde with the murders. When night club photographer Nancy (Emily Yancy), is killed just as she is developing some photos of Tina with Manuwalde the finished film when discovered by Dr. Thomas reveals a blank space where Mamuwalde was standing which further implicates him. Now that Dr. Thomas knows Manuwalde's real identity, the chase is then on to track him down and keep him away from Tina. She however has fallen in love with the Prince and has completely fallen under his spell. After a scary encounter with Manuwalde and his disciples in a disused warehouse the doctor and police track down his resting place to an electric plant where in the ensuring fight Tina is mistakedly shot. Laying her to rest the broken hearted Manuwalde sees no purpose in continuing and in the ultimate sacrifice evades his pursuers and runs up onto the roof into the early morning light allowing himself to disintergrate into dust in time honoured Vampire tradition.
Passed off as trendy and dated hip action by today's audiences I find this story an original and interesting one. William Marshall as the cursed Blacula of the title does an outstanding job in the role of the tormented man with the curse of the undead on him who sees a chance at second happiness. His vampire while undoubtedly savage and blood thirsty is allowed to display his sadder side in particular in his scenes with Tina over the losses he has experienced in life. Vonetta McGee in the two roles of Tina / Luva also gives a great performance as the young girl drawn to the mysterious stranger who claims she is his wife brought back to life despite knowing what he actually is. Most of the black characters depicted in "Blacula", are surprisingly postive ones with Dr. Thomas played by Thalmus Rasulala being a medical investigator who is always two steps ahead of the police in their investigations. The only dated characters in the otherwise intelligent story are the two antique dealers that are unfortunately depicted as gay stereotypes but apart from that it is a pleasing film in the acting department. The 1970's feel to the story is well presented and the flashback beginning at Dracula's Castle is also top quality. One of great strong points of "Blacula", is the amazing and quite frightening vampire makeup applied to William Marshall which is highly effective and on a much more savage side than that used by Hammer studios for their vampire creations. The film abounds with many eerie and quite frigtening moments such as the female Cab driver (Ketty Lester), rising from the dead in the Morgue and attacking the night worker (Elisha Cook), Manuwalde's transformations into a Vampire Bat, his attack on the photographer in the dark room and the attack in the Warehouse are all standout scenes that earn "Blacula", its proper place in modern horror circles. Very seventies in its feel and choice of accompanying music that is part of "Blacula's", charm and are elements which we as an audience almost 30 years later should not be too judgemental about.
Being a great fan of vampire films I believe that "Blacula", is a worthy late edition to the Vampire horror movie group along with the also interesting "Count Yorga, Vampire" of the same period. Today it is certainly viewed as one of the best of the blaxploitation cycle of films so popular in the early 1970's, and it was succesful enough to have its own sequel the following year with William Marshall resurrected in his famous role as Mamuwalde in "Scream Blacula Scream". "Blacula", contains some humour and is well balanced in its storytelling and in its horror elements making for very entertaining viewing if you are a fan of this genre. Sit back and enjoy possibly the first black vampire to grace horror movies in William Marshall who with his regal bearing and deep sensual voice creates a most interesting vampire character that is really this stories chief asset. Enjoy! "
"Wow, man, nice threads. Dig the fangs bro...NOOOOOOO!!!"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 11/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 1972 film "Blacula" is a much better example of the Blaxploitation period, which began with the success of "Shaft" the previous year, than it is as a vampire movie. William Marshall, with his booming voice, plays the title character and gives the film a sense of credibility that probably only James Earl Jones could have matched. Without Marshall's sense of dignity, "Blacula" would have been reduced to slapstick. The story is that interior decorates buy the coffin of Prince Manuwalde andbring it back to Los Angeles, unaware that the African prince had been bitten by Dracula (Charles Macaulay) centuries before and locked inside. While wandering the nights in his eternal search for human blood, the prince sees Tina (Vonetta McGee), a woman who looks like his dear departed wife, Luva, and he is convinced she is his beloved reincarnated. While Blacula woos Tina, her friend Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala) figures out that this guy is a blood-sucking fiend and tries to hunt the vampire down. Today the racial humor of this film seems dated, but in 1972 this movie was hip in being self-conscious about its blackness, which was the whole point of the Blaxploitation movement: to black movies made by black casts and crews for black audiences, instead of leaving it to Hollywood to ignore and denigrate blacks in the films that had been produced up to that point. The horror scenes are hokey in the extreme, but since they are basically being done for fun by director William Crain, it is hard to complain. Some critics have bemoaned the miss opportunity to make a telling critique of sexual hypocrisy in society, the way Bram Stoker's original novel did for the Victorian era (if you are inclined to read it that way), but the social agenda here is clearly race and not sex, which is totally appropriate as far as I am concerned. In addition to the 1973 sequel, "Scream, Blacula, Scream," other Blaxploitation horror films that followed this one included "Blackenstein," "Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde," and "The House on Skull Mountain." However, none of them would enjoy the reputation of "Blacula," which remains the defining film of this particular genre."
Through The Black Of Night, I Gotta Go Where You Are
Neverman | California | 08/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Nothing like being prone to nostalgia!
This fun campy piece came right between Kent State and Nixon's re-election, and remains one of the most amusing entries in exploitation cinema.
The whole affair would be wasted but for the splendid performance of Shakespearean trained actor William Marshall, who brought a dignity to a film that would have been otherwise doomed to pure silliness. Through his efforts, "Blacula," which, under the perennial reign of Samuel Z. Arkoff, was lifted to a quality purely based on the strengths of one individual.
It must be remembered that "black rights" were not exactly warmly received back then. We as a nation were hot off the heels of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and some other general socio/political/economic upheavals that were very unwelcome by the powers that be.
This film was daring not only in the "blaxploitation" sense, but also in its depiction of homosexuality, still then a very much "taboo" subject...
Horror films have always been fertile ground for the "taboo," and this little film is no exception. It has it's flaws, to be sure, but, for a low budget production, it holds its own.
And, on 1970's television, it was a bit creepy!
Great fun throughout."
William marshall make "blacula" better than it should be.
John D. Page | usa | 04/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"this blaxplotion horror movie gets it's power and charm from william marshall's forceful job as an african prince bitten by dracula and later brought back to life in 1970's watts. the story gets silly in spots but just as it is about to fold under it's own weight,marshall pulls it back and makes a 2 star movie into a 4 star tour de force. the fact that hollywood never really gave this great actor better roles is the shame of the movie world."
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 04/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Blacula (William Crain, 1972)How many wonderfully bad films did Sam Arkoff give the public? (According to IMDB, a hundred thirty-nine.) This one was right smack dab in the middle, the first big-screen feature for a rising star named William Crain, who went on to be a big name in TV episode directing (The Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky and Hutch, et al.). How wrong can you go with a film whose trailer excalimed "he's Dracula's soul brother!"?Not too far, as it turns out. This is a wild and wonderful piece of pure camp. An African prince, Mawatunde (William Marshall) and his wife Luva (Vonetta McGee) are sent to Europe in 1780 to protest the slave trade, and they appeal to a certain count in transylvania. Mawatunde gets offended when Dracula lusts after his wife publicly and... well, you can guess the rest of that part. Mawatunde is awakened almost two hundred years later after he's been transported to LA by a couple of ultra-hep antiques dealers, where-- surprise of surprises-- he comes across the reincarnation of his wife!Priceless stuff. You can't make comedy this funny. *** 1/2"