It’s been awhile since I had time to settle in and keep working through the 101 Horror Movies but I finally had time to settle back into the early 70s and watched the next one on my list – the blaxploitation film Blacula.
My first reaction when the opening credits started rolling was… Gordon Pinsent? Yup, the beloved Canadian actor is right there aiding the Van Helsing type character Doctor Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala). Sweet. Or I guess more in the vernacular of the time… Solid.
The film opens with Prince Malmuwalde (William Marshall) and his wife in Europe in the 1780s to protest the slave trade, when they make a pit stop in scenic Transylvania and spend an evening with the infamous Count Dracula, an old vampiric white man. When Dracula makes some less than politic remarks about the idea of the slave trade, and being willing to pay handsomely for Malmuwalde’s wife, the prince takes umbrage, but is quickly overpowered by the legendary vampire and his fellow ghouls.
Dracula decides the best punishment will be to turn Malmuwalde and let his wife die.
Flash forward to almost 200 years to the 1970s as two flamboyant antique buyers arrange for all of the belongings of Castle Dracula (including a couple of coffins) to be shipped State-side.
It is here that Blacula rises from the grave, hungry for blood, and angry over the loss of his wife.
Until he meets Tina (Vonetta McGee) who seems to be his wife reincarnated.
Blacula is surprising fun, and though I had a hard time taking Dr. Thomas seriously, he reminded me too much of Black Dynamite, but the film plays really well, entertaining and making for an enjoyable 90 minute escape, and features a bouncy, soul score.
Yes, the white man is the bad guy. But it works, that’s what type of film it is. Malmuwalde is played as sympathetic and tragic, simply trying to survive and of course, he’s a man in love, so he can’t be all bad.
Is it a horror movie though?
There are the traits of a horror movie, blood, vampires, castles, coffins, but time hasn’t been kind to the film, it’s dated, and serves as more of an illustration of the genre crossing of horror and blaxploitation films.
It’s a lot of fun, good for laughs, but I think I’m getting ready for heavier and spookier fare…