Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blackula (1972)

Okay, so Blackula (the black Dracula) is not as scary as Dracula, but is probably better than Chackula (the Chinese Dracula) and Spackula (the Spanish Dracula), neither of which actually exist. There was a Blackenstein, however, and a Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, and at some point I'm going to film a Blummy: the Black Mummy. His bandages are black because he doesn't wash them. In the early 70s, enterprising exploitation chiselers decided to cash in on the overwhelming demand in the black community for more rip offs of the classic horror characters, but black. This film was one of those films.

In Blackula, we learn that Dracula (Charles McCauley) was a bit of a racist along with being a vampire. He screws over an African prince Mamuwalde (played by the suave William Marshall) visiting Transylvania to get Europe to abandon the slave trade (which Transylvania had fuck all to do with) and meeting with the Count, who apparently wants to screw his cute African bride (Vonetta McGee). When Mamuwalde balks at this, the Count bites his neck and locks him in a coffin to suffer for eternity without blood.

Jump to the early seventies when a couple of interior decorators buy the coffin for their home and Blackula pops out to suck their blood before heading out into the L.A. streets to bite a sassy taxi driver and fall in love with a hot young girl Tina who looks just like his late bride. By an amazing coincidence, the investigator trying to solve the crimes, Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala) is Tina's brother, although he's getting no help at all from the Man. Soon, Tina and Blackula are in love, but they can't be together.

Of course, if you remember, pretty much all those old Universal monster movies were about thwarted love- Dracula, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and finally Frankenstein were made horrible by not being able to have a go with their desired mates. Here, it's society that's trying, as usual, to stick it to the black (vampire) man. The race aspect actually gives the society's monster theme an unusual level of resonance. Mamuwalde was a prince in Africa who had everything stripped from him by a white devil, was shipped to America in a boat, and is now hounded and oppressed by the authorities over his understandable rage. Fuck if there's not resonance there.

Blackula is not a particularly gory film- its PG rating is about right. And you might have noticed that it's more than a little illogical. It's more like a kid's movie or something you'd see uncut on TV. But, here at least, the combination of a classic monster and a blacksploitation flick works pretty well.


  1. I fell asleep during Blacula... but that was years ago. I should probably give it another shot.

  2. You know, it's really just one of those movies you can watch on a Saturday afternoon when it comes on TV. I wouldn't rush out to see it, but it's a decent time waster.