Blacula: The Complete Collection
The vampire with soul
Release Date: OUT NOW!
1972/ 1973 | 15 | Dual format Blu- ray/ DVD Directors: William Crain, Bob Kelljan Cast: William Marshall, Pam Grier, Richard Lawson, Vonetta McGee, Denise Nicholas
It’s easy to sneer at Blacula – just look at the name! It reeks of cheap ’ 70s exploitation. The funny thing is, these two films – Blacula and sequel Scream, Blacula, Scream – are rather interesting.
William Marshall stars as African prince Mamuwalde, lured to Dracula’s lair. The Count has his eye on Mamuwalde’s wife – and on his neck. Transformed into a vampire and renamed Blacula by his racist sire, he’s set loose upon the world. Cut to LA in 1972, and Mamuwalde meets a woman who looks eerily like his now long- dead wife. Could it be – wait for it – love at first bite?
Both films are propelled along by a sense of fun, great fashions and a fantastic soundtrack. They’re daft and lascivious ( at one point a woman strips down to a bustier to develop some photographs) but elevated by Marshall’s performance. He may be the villain, but he humanises the series, giving a sympathetic and melancholy performance.
The pacing is dodgy and the sequel largely treads the same ground, but as campy and occasionally thoughtful thrillers, there’s lots to enjoy.
Extras: Kim Newman contextualises the films, pointing out the debt that better- regarded movies like Francis Ford Coppola’s take on Dracula owe to Blacula. There are also trailers and a 32- page booklet. Will Salmon
Mamuwalde’s regal back- story was devised by Marshall himself, who wanted to imbue the character with a sense of dignity.
Blacula: not as terrible as it sounds.