BAMF Blaxploitation Archive – BLACULA

BlaculaBAMF’s Blaxploitation Archive is a collection of reviews originally written in the 1990s that appeared in the pages of BadAzz MoFo. This review and many others have been reprinted and collected in BadAzz MoFo’s Book of Blaxploitation, Volume One, which is now available for purchase.

BLACULA 1972 director: William Crain; starring: William Marshall, Vonetta McGee, Denise Nicholas, Thalmus Rasulala
In 1790, African prince Mamuwalde (Marshall) and his fine Nubian princess, Luva (McGee) pay a visit to Count Dracula in Transylvania. Mamuwalde wants Dracula to help him stop the slave trade in Africa. But Dracula, like most whiteys, is only concerned with suckin’ the life out of a brotha (literally). Of course, we all know what Mamuwalde does not know—Dracula is a vampire. The honky bloodsucker places a curse of vampirism on Mamuwalde, and then locks him in a coffin for all eternity. Did I mention what Dracula does to the lovely Luva? Well, let’s just say the old count likes his blood chocolate-flavored, as well as vanilla. Almost two hundred years later, the coffin containing Mamuwalde finds it’s way to Los Angeles, where the prince is set free. Pissed off, hungry, and horny, he ain’t Mamuwalde anymore, he’s Blacula. My man goes on a blood sucking rampage, slurping the hemoglobin like it was Nighttrain. Eventually, Blacula meets Tina, the reincarnation of Luva (gee, that never happens in vampire movies), and decides he’s got to get some of her good stuff. Hot on the trail of Blacula are Tina’s friends (Rasulala and Nicholas), who know something is up. Could it be some crazy vampire-type shit?

A fairly early entry in the blaxploitation era, Blacula was not only very successful financially, it has gone on to become one of the most well known blaxploitation movies of all time. Blacula is also among the best of the horror subgenre (Which I realize isn’t saying much). Although it does have a few creepy moments, overall the film is more campy fun than scary. Except, of course for the morgue scene in which the freaked out lookin’ vampire broad comes running down the hall and attacks Elisha Cook, Jr. That shit stills scares me today.

Without a doubt, William Marshall is the single greatest part of Blacula (although Rasulala is pretty damn good, and the soundtrack is really good too). But in his performance as Dracula’s soul brother, Marshall turns in one of the most legendary vampire portrayals ever committed to film. Interestingly enough, it was Marshall’s idea to make Mamuwalde an African prince trying to form an anti-slavery alliance with Dracula. While it might not seem like that big of a deal, for an audience that had only seen Africans portrayed as bug-eyed savages, in leopard skin loin clothes, with bones through their noses, in some Tarzan flick, Marshall’s Mamuwalde was revolutionary. Audiences flocked to the theaters in droves to check out Blacula.

Marshall was a stage actor with an impressive career on Broadway before he ventured into films. He made his film debut in 1952 in Lydia Bailey, in 1953 he co-starred in the short-lived television series Harlem Detective, and in 1968 he made a memorable appearance on Star Trek. In the 80s, Marshal became a regular guest on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Widgets


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