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Part Three of Sinister Soul Cinema

"I curse you with my name; you shall be Blacula!"

-- Count Dracula doing his part for Affirmative Action  




Gonzoid Cinema




"Hey! Watch where you're poking that thing!"


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Sights &
  William Crain
  Joan Torres
  Raymond Koenig
  Norman Herman
  Joseph Naar
  Mark Rosen
  Sam Arkoff

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When Good

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Wonky Titles.

Kill, Baby Kill



More Sinister

Soul Cinema:


Scream, Blacula Scream

Dr. Black and Brother Hyde

Black the Ripper

The Black Werewolf

Sugar Hill



It was a dark and stormy night. The year, 1780. And the ominous atmosphere outside pales when we're told the castle we're zooming in on belongs to none other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Count Dracula. We cut inside, where the Count is entertaining some special guests: Prince Mumawalde (William Marshall) and his wife, Luva (Vonetta McGee), who have been sent to Europe as emissaries to try and convince those with influence to stop the African slave trade. But things don't go well as the Count (Charles Macaulay) scoffs at the notion, saying the slave trade has merit. And when he offers to buy Luva, Mumawalde, of course, is both insulted and incensed. Calming his guest down with assurances that it was just a warped compliment on Luva's beauty, Dracula's loutish behavior continues to degenerate, eventually showing his true nature -- No. Not his vampirism, but his bigotry. With that, declaring this palaver is over, Mumawalde announces they're leaving. Their host, however, begs to differ and sics his servants on the Prince, who puts up a good fight but is soon overwhelmed by numbers and knocked unconscious.

Luva, meanwhile, must deal with Dracula himself, who has bared his fangs and called up some undead reinforcements. And as his undead brides seize her, the Count puts the bite on Mumawalde's neck -- and we all know what that means, right? But, not satisfied with just turning them into a blood-sucking ghouls, Dracula has an even more sinister fate for his two guests. Placing Mumawalde in a sturdy coffin, Dracula then curses him with his name -- and so, from now on, the African Prince will be known as Blacula. But the Count still isn't done tormenting him yet, and, being the bastard that he is, locks the coffin shot, meaning his latest victim, unable to satiate his need for blood, will spend an eternity in agony. As for Luva? She is to be left alone but will be sealed up in a secret room with the coffin, where she will spend the rest of her life in the dark listening to her beloved's cries as he tries to get out!

And as the room plunges into darkness, that truly inspired and nasty beginning dissolves into some interesting animated credits. An odd combination of Saul Bass and Edward Gorey, we watch as a black bat hunts down a red dot that magically transforms into a naked woman before being sucked off the screen. We are then hurtled forward in time to 1972, where, still in Transylvania, a local real estate agent is having trouble convincing two openly gay antique dealers from the States that the old and decrepit castle they're touring really belonged to Count Dracula (-- dispatched a hundred years ago by Van Helsing and his crew). These doubtful dealers, Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schafer (Rick Metzler), really run rampant with their raging queenish behavior just in case we don't get it -- alas the film isn't very subtle with any of its stereotypes. And despite the sales pitch, they still don't believe that Dracula was an actual vampire, except in the movies, but just the notion that the furniture and decor for sale was owned by the Count gives it a kitsch value that will bring top dollar back in Los Angeles -- especially a large coffin found in a secret, walled-off room during the castle's renovation.

After the soundtrack wocka-cha-wockas us back to the States, Bobby and Billy are now in a warehouse uncrating their European booty. Morbidly curious, and ignoring his lover's protests to leave it alone, Bobby goes to work on the coffin's padlock; and whiles breaking the clasp, Billy accidentally cuts a deep gash in his arm. As Bobby tends to the wound and Billy frets, in the background, we see the lid to Mumawalde's coffin slowly open. Slower still, his features turned more fearsome, Blacula crawls out of the coffin, bares his fangs, and attacks the two men. Casting Bobby aside, he feasts upon Billy's wound -- draining all the blood, then moves on to Billy and sucks him dry, too ... His hunger finally satiated after two-hundred years, Blacula returns to his coffin, dons his cape, and recalls Dracula's curse. Knowing he'll soon have to feed again, this stranger in a strange land still manages a sardonic smile as he crawls back inside the box until the eternal hunger rouses him once more...

Finally! After such a rough start Sinister Soul Cinema month shakes off the cobwebs and recovers nicely thanks to the amazing talents of William Marshall. Damn straight. Instead of draining our blood out, Blacula actually injects life into this bizarre mix of genres. So leave the crucifixes and wooden stakes at home, brothers and sisters, they won't be needed here.

The argument remains unsettled on whether Gordon Park's and Richard Roundtree's urban-actioneer Shaft or Mario Van Peeble's independently produced tale of a framed man's flight from the law in Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song was the original blaxploitation movie. Regardless of which came first (-- technically Shaft, which came out a year earlier in 1971), both films inspired many imitators in style -- if not necessarily in substance. And in an amazingly short time-span, less than a calendar year, someone already had an itch to mash-up the burgeoning genre with some old school horror.

Blacula was a unique film in many ways for American International Pictures, a production company whose bread had been buttered with this type of genre cross-pollination since its inception back in the 1950's. Usually reserved for whenever whatever particular genre was sputtering out at the time, hoping an infusion of monsters would allow them to milk the box-office for a little while longer, they just seemed a little ahead of the usual law of diminished returns scale this go-round. Producer Norman Herman was a holdover from those halcyon days at AIP, and from the youth rebellion in Hot Rod Rumble, to the counter-culture craze in Psych-Out, to the outlaw bikers in Angels Unchained, to the eco-disaster of Frogs, he had proven that he could adapt to whatever style was popular at the time. Now, normally American International would come up with a title, an idea, or a promotional campaign, and then hammer out a script to fit it. The whole reverse-engineering process was kind of ass-backwards but it had served the company well over the years. Co-founder James H. Nicholson was the master or such shenanigans, but by 1971, Nicholson, having lost his co-majority interest in the company after divorcing his wife, had moved on to 20th Century Fox, leaving the company solely in the hands of his old partner, Samuel Z. Arkoff. 

Enter novice screenwriters Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig, who pitched their completed script -- a blaxpo tale with a supernatural twist -- to Herman, who in turn presented it to Arkoff. And, according to legend, the mini-mogul read it one sitting, loved its potential, and quickly gave Herman the green light, and Blacula went into production almost immediately.

On the surface, sure, a film about a black Dracula strutting his stuff on the streets of 1970's Los Angeles seems utterly ludicrous, but, if given just half a chance, there are some very interesting things going on in Blacula just below the blaxpo veneer. And yes, these novel ideas begin with Torres and Koenig's script but what makes it work, and gets the audience over the initial hump and squarely in the movie's corner, is, as I mentioned before, Marshall's riveting performance as the doomed Prince. With his booming baritone voice and a deceptive, sensual grace of movement he brings a quiet dignity to Mumawalde; but when the switch is flipped to Blacula mode, just like that, he is an ominous and menacing presence, and I wouldn't want to be in the same room when he gets his feeding frenzy on -- just ask Bobby and Billy if you don't believe me.

Here, we'll pick up the movie at the funeral home, where Bobby's body is laid out for visitation. We spy Mumawalde lurking behind some curtains, who exerts his long dormant powers by putting the hypno-whammy on his first convert. Enthralled by his master, Bobby starts to stir but they're interrupted when the [un]dead man's sisters, Tina (McGee again) and Michelle (Denise Nicholas), arrive. (I'm just assuming Bobby is their brother, as his relationship to the women is never made clear.) Michelle is comforted by her boyfriend, Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who, as part of the scientific investigation branch of the L.A.P.D., promises to catch whoever killed Bobby and bring them to justice. Mumawalde, meanwhile, isn't concerned with these assertions, as he is more interested in Tina, who is the spitting image of his late wife, Luva, and follows the ladies out when the visitation ends. Wanting another look at the body, Thomas stays behind. Confused as to why the victim's veins had collapsed and the complete lack of blood, Thomas discovers and examines some puncture wounds on the deceased's neck. The mortician, who apologizes for not having the body embalmed yet, assumed this was just a rat bite. The body was found in a warehouse after all. Thomas, however, isn't so sure.

Later, as Tina walks home, alone, she senses someone is following her. She picks up the pace, that quickly accelerates into a full out sprint, but runs right smack into Mumawalde, who mistakes her for Luva and becomes confused and irritated when she doesn't recognize him. Assuming he's some nut, Tina manages to get away but drops her purse. So, the chase in on, and it continues until the vampire gets blindsided by a cab. And when Juanita Jones (Ketty Lester), the sassy, jive-talking motor-mouthed driver, gets out and gives Mumawalde the business for running out in front of her, outraged over losing Tina, he takes out his frustration on the cabbie, who sasses her last sass when he chomps on her neck ... Meanwhile, Tina makes it back to her apartment and locks the door behind her, but before she can calm down, someone (-- or something!) comes a-knocking. Luckily, it's only Michelle, to whom Tina confesses as to what happened. And sure that her attacker has her purse, ID, and keys, Tina is pretty much inconsolable but her sister eventually gets her calmed down.

The next morning, when Thomas is called to the county morgue to examine another body, Sam (Elisha Cook Jr.), the morgue attendant, rolls what's left of Juanita Jones out of the freezer. Examining the corpse, Thomas finds the same peculiar puncture wounds on her neck. (Man, that rat really gets around.) At this point, Thomas laughs at his initial notion on what might be responsible for these bite marks but doesn't discuss his suspicions with his boss, Lt. Peters (Gordon Pinsent), who is leading the investigation into this rash of mysterious homicides. And while Peters thinks they all might be gang related, Thomas sees no real connection between the cab driver and two gay antique dealers -- except in the way they died. Thinking they need another crack at all the bodies on an autopsy table, after Peters agrees, Thomas calls the mortuary and makes arrangements to collect the bodies for reexamination. But that will have to wait until tomorrow. Tonight, Thomas will be at The Club, celebrating Michelle's birthday.

As the Hues Corporation gets The Club a-movin' and groovin' (-- a welcome relief from the comedic stylings of Andy C, the ass clown who was playing there last week), Tina, Michelle and Thomas take a table and enjoy the trio's music. Mumawalde arrives next. He approaches the party, properly introduces himself, and then returns the purse as he apologizes to Tina for frightening her so badly the night before, claiming he saw her at the funeral home, mistook her for his recently deceased wife, and just lost his head. With his forlorn story and sincere charm quickly winning her over, Tina invites Mumawalde to join their party. He agrees, and insists on buying a bottle of champagne to help celebrate Michelle's birthday. When The Club's owner, Skillet (Jitu Cumbaka), brings the champagne and a birthday cake, his girlfriend, Nancy (Emily Yancy), starts taking pictures, and Mumawalde cringes with each camera flash. Skillet also tells Thomas there's a phone call for him and it's bad news. Told that Bobby's body has disappeared from the mortuary, Thomas says not to touch anything and he'll be there as soon as possible. Back at the table, Nancy's constant photo-taking has driven Mumawalde off. Tina catches him before he leaves, and appears to be smitten with him. Obviously feeling the same way, he promises to meet her again at The Club the following night. Their eyes lock as Mumawalde brings her under his spell -- until another bright flash from Nancy's camera, who was sneaking a candid shot of them, saves Tina -- for now. 

After Mumawalde leaves, Skillet snarks at the man's oddball behavior but really digs his tailor and openly covets one of those stylish capes. With the party winding down, Nancy excuses herself and heads across the street to her home and private darkroom so she can develop the pictures. And after the film is processed, she drops the exposed contact sheet into the chemical soup and waits for the picture to develop. As the image slowly appears, the photographer hears something. Thinking it's just Skillet trying to scare her, a quick tour finds the house empty. Back in the darkroom, that last picture she snapped of Tina and the mysterious stranger is done -- but something went wrong: Tina is there, but Mumawalde is nowhere to be seen. Befuddled, the girl collects the photo to show the others but is ambushed on the way out, and her attacker seizes and crushes the evidence as he chomps down on her neck.

The next morning, Thomas checks in with Peters to see if some missing files he had requested ever showed up. When Peters says he sent Officer Barnes to The Club to deliver them personally, they realize the messenger is now missing, too. (He did make it there, but Barnes was attacked and bitten by the recently turned Nancy.) Since Bobby's body has vanished, Thomas asks for permission to exhume Billy Schafer's body for an autopsy instead. A reluctant Peters still doesn't see any connection between the victims yet, but Thomas assures that he has a working theory and only needs a little more time to confirm a few things before sharing it. Returning to his lab, Thomas finds Michelle waiting with a stack of books borrowed from the library. As they start going through the pile, Michelle laughs, saying the librarian thought she was crazy when she requested all these books on ghouls and vampires. Then, when Peters calls, saying the Schafer family refused the exhumation request, Thomas tells Michelle it's time for some drastic action and reveals his plans to dig up the body anyway.

That night, Mumawalde shows up at Tina's apartment. Letting him in, the girl admits to being oddly attracted to him -- yet frightened at the same time, and hopes that he can explain why. Mumawalde tries, confessing his true origin, saying he is two-hundred years old, cursed by Dracula, and how he lost his wife, but now, he has found her again in Tina. When she counters that Dracula and vampires are just myths, Mumawalde assures her that they are as real as he is. And he needs her, and wants to spend all of eternity with her, his true love. But, she must come freely; and the ancient vampire assures he won't use his powers of persuasion to trick Tina or take her by force. So, the decision is hers. Overwhelmed, Tina weighs her options. While she thinks, Mumawalde hopes she will say yes since he can't bare the thought of losing his true love twice. That does the trick; Tina tells him to stay, and as they embrace, Mumawalde surprises us all by gently kissing her on the lips instead of clamping onto her neck.

Meanwhile, at the graveyard, Thomas has just finished digging up Schafer's grave. When Michelle asks what he expects to find, he answers that, hopefully, all they'll find is a dead body. Almost on cue, Billy springs from the unearthed coffin and attacks. Michelle screams as Thomas beats him back with the shovel, breaks it off, and then impales the wooden handle into Billy's heart. Thinking her boyfriend just killed someone, Michelle is beyond hysterics until he convinces her the victim was a vampire; and he didn't kill him, Thomas insists, just put the pour soul out of his misery. When asked if Bobby is the same way, he solemnly nods affirmative. Needing to convince Peters, too, who'll never believe this without any proof, Thomas remembers that Juanita Jones is still on ice at the morgue. He calls Sam and tells him to pull Jones' body out of the cooler, but to leave it alone and lock the door behind him; no arguments. Peculiar request aside, Sam follows the orders to the letter. Leaving the body to thaw out, he fumbles with the keys to lock up when the phone starts ringing. Leaving the door unlocked, he takes the call. 

Rounding up Peters at his home, Thomas heads to the morgue. But before they can get there, Jones, thoroughly thawed out, wakes up and goes on the prowl. And as Sam goes over some paperwork, the door to the morgue flies open and Jones -- fangs bared, and screaming her head off -- charges down the hall toward her prey. When Thomas and Peters arrive, they find Sam's desk covered in blood. Cautiously entering the morgue, they spy a body on the gurney, covered with a sheet, and when Peters pulls the sheet back, Jones springs to life and attacks. But, Thomas fights her off with a crucifix, chasing her into a corner, and opens the blinds. Sunlight floods the room, quickly killing the vampire.

Back at Tina's apartment, Mumawalde and Tina appear to have completed the *ahem* dirty deed. Getting out of bed, he starts dressing, saying he has to go, for to stay is to die, because the sun is coming up. Tina, despite Mumawalde's promises that it won't hurt, still isn't sure if she's ready for an eternity of sucking blood. Promised all the time she needs to decide, as he leaves, Tina professes her love for him ... Meanwhile, at the morgue, with all the overwhelming evidence, Peters has no choice but to believe Thomas' vampire theory -- but who will believe them? Regardless of the brass, Thomas says they have to do something, immediately, because the vampire plague spreads exponentially, each victim creating more victims, and will soon be out of control. All Peters can do is double the night patrols and watch for "suspicious" activities. When Thomas suggests they put out an APB for Bobby, Peters thinks it's risky to call for the search of someone whose already dead.

[Adam 12/] "Attention all units. Attention all units. Be on the lookout for an effeminate black male, 5'8", @ 20 years of age, sporting a huge pair of fangs. Approach with caution and crucifixes. Over." [/Adam 12]

Since they won't find any more vampires until the sun goes down, Peters orders Thomas to go home and get some rest. But Thomas says he can't; he's got a hunch and has to check up on something first. When night comes, Thomas and Michelle meet Tina and Mumawalde at The Club. After they all order drinks -- Mumawalde orders, of course, a Bloody Mary (... no, I'm not making this up) -- Thomas starts asking all sorts of bizarre questions about vampires and the occult. Even though he believes there is some truth to be found in these myths and legends, Mumawalde scoffs at Thomas, and asks if he truly believes that vampires are behind these recent killings. Before the two can argue further, Skillet arrives and asks if anyone's seen Nancy lately, but no one's seen her since the party. Turning his attention to an agitated Mumawalde, Skillet offers to buy his cape. Offended by this constant harassment, Mumawalde and Tina leave. Thomas leaves, too, and heads over to Nancy's place. She's not home, but there are signs of foul play: her dark room has been torn apart and all the pictures are gone. He sets the imager back up on it's stand; it's still on, and projecting an image on the table. When Thomas brings it into focus, he sees a picture of Tina talking to a blank space -- right where Mumawalde should be! That clinches it: Mumawalde is the head vampire -- and he's with Tina!

At Tina's apartment, Mumawalde is begging his true love to come with him. And she seems ready to cave in when they both hear police sirens approaching fast. Below, two patrolmen spy Mumawalde running away and give chase, split up, and one of the unlucky patrolmen catches up and gets his neck broke before the vampire disappears into the night. Back at the apartment, while Michelle consoles Tina, Thomas breaks the news that her new lover is also mass murderer. When he receives a report that a patrol car spotted Bobby with a new boyfriend, Thomas says to follow them -- but not to close, in hopes they'll lead them to Mumawalde's lair. Leaving the girls at the apartment with a handy crucifix, Thomas tells Michelle to lock the door and let no one in. Alas, the patrolmen lost Bobby, but they're near the warehouse where he and Billy were killed, so Peters figures that must be the place. Surprised to find Sgt. Barnes already there, together, they enter the darkened warehouse. The first sign of trouble comes quick when the door mysteriously slams shuts behind them by itself, sealing them inside. Thomas produces another crucifix as the search presses on until they find the body of the man Bobby was with. Then, Bobby attacks, and as Thomas wards him off with the crucifix, more ghouls pop up and attack. Seems Mumawalde and his brood have been busy as there are over a dozen vampires loose in the warehouse. And when Barnes shows his fangs and joins the attack, the other patrolmen are overrun by ghouls, leaving only Thomas and Peters alive. Finding a crate of volatile oil lamps, this dynamic duo starts chucking them at the vampires. And when these lamps mysteriously ignite on impact, they firebomb the vampires, who are consumed by the flames. Those they don't burn, they stake with wood from the busted crates as they fight their way toward the door. And they almost make it out before Mumawalde presents himself. And thanks to Thomas's inadvertent warning earlier at The Club, he moved his coffin to a different and safer locale. He'd also love to stay and chat more, but the vampire claims to have an urgent appointment elsewhere. Turning into a bat, he then flies away.

Knowing full well he's headed back to Tina, they hightail it to her apartment, where Tina is confessing to Michelle that even though Mumawalde killed all those innocent people, she still loves him. (What is it with women always falling for these bad seeds?) Beating the vampire there, Peters decide to set a trap for him, using Tina as bait. But what they don't realize is that Mumawalde's already there, on the roof, watching the police cordon off the area. Realizing what's up, he uses his psychic-hypno-whammy to summon Tina from her bedroom. Message delivered, he transforms back into a bat and flaps away. But someone spots him and raises the alarm. Inside, Thomas checks on Tina but she's long gone, having snuck out the bedroom window. When an A.P.B. is put out on the girl, a patrol car spots Tina and tails her to some kind of chemical plant. Ahead, Tina enters and rendezvous with her undead lover. They kiss, but soon hear sirens approaching again and retreat further into the twisting and turning metal structure. Outside, several patrol cars arrive. Thomas, with his crucifix at the ready, cautiously leads Michelle, Peters, and about a dozen officers into the plant. Once inside, they split up and continue the search. One officer spots the fugitives, and orders them to freeze. When they don't, he opens fire. (Yep, this is definitely L.A.) The bullets don't hurt the vampire at all, but Tina gets hit, too. An enraged Mumawalde quickly dispatches the officer but it's too late; Tina's wounds appear to be fatal, and when she begs him to help, Mumawalde asks her forgiveness for what he's about to do. Slowly, he moves toward her, and as he bites down on her neck, Tina rolls her eyes in orgasmic ecstasy.

As the others search, Mumawalde's booming voice suddenly echoes throughout the building, promising that no one, especially Thomas, will get out alive and this building will now be their mass tomb. After the announcement, the enraged vampire starts buzz-sawing through the cops. But as they meet their gruesome fate, this gives Thomas and Peters time to find the coffin. Peters takes up a stake, ready to strike, as Thomas hands the crucifix over to Michelle and prepares to open the lid. Yanking it open, Thomas sees Tina is inside but Peters strikes, plunging the stake into her heart. Tina, fangs bared, jumps up and screams. Michelle joins in on the screaming while her sister writhes in pain until Tina finally falls silent. Mumawalde heard these screams, too. Ordered to move away from the body, Thomas and Peters move to intercept -- but Mumawalde stops them, saying there is no reason to attack. With Tina gone, he has nothing left to live for. Spying a staircase that leads to the roof, Mumawalde leaves. When Peters starts to pursue, Thomas stops him.

Above, Mumawalde makes it outside, where he writhes in pain as the sunlight slowly destroys him. He collapses, and pulls his cape over the top of himself. Thomas and Peters catch the end of this, and when they pull the cape back, they see [a not very convincing replica of] Mumawalde's head, slowly disintegrating, with maggots crawling in the eye sockets. This head slowly smolders on until all that's left is the skeleton.

The End

Truth be told, Blacula is another one of those movies that is cursed by it's own title. (See also I Married a Monster from Outer Space.) Serious horror fans shy away from it; blaxploitation fans are disappointed because there are no foxy mommas, pimps, or pushers getting their heads busted in by a vengeful soul brother or sister; fans of camp and the so bad it's good crowd are disappointed because the film takes it's premise and subject matter pretty seriously. Sure, there are some inadvertent laughs to be had, mostly at the expense of the dated fashions and outdated lingo, but these induced yuks are the exception, not the rule, so to speak, which is why most folks, led in by the title, find the film's restrained tone dull and boring. Not me. Nope. Unlike our last review, where the movie actually wound up being worse than the idiotic title would imply, this film, on the other hand, really has no business being as good as it is. Yes, the film has plot-holes a plenty and is littered with inexplicable anachronisms: How does Mumawalde know how speak English? Why doesn't he suffer from a bad case of jet-lag or culture shock? Or what a Bloody Mary is for that matter? Pfeegh. Minor details. And yes, there aren't that many actual scares in the film when compared to, or stacked up against, the gaffes, but the few moments there are really stick with you. Kudos to director William Crain and cinematographer John Stevens for pulling this off. And even though both men's static roots in episodic television leeches through the proceedings more often than not, there are enough flashes of brilliance to keep the viewer visually interested. And no sequence flashes brighter than Juanita Jones' slow-motion attack in the morgue...

With her teeth bared...

Her hair all whacked out...

Screaming like a rabid banshee...

As she thunders down the hall...

That is pretty damned effective, if you ask me.

Now, usually, a film like this -- based on a novel idea, or bizarre gimmick -- fizzles out by the second reel. Here, not only does it succeed but flourishes because Torres and Koenig wisely choose not to rely on the hook of "Dracula's soul brother" but focused, instead, on the tragic and doomed romance between Mumawalde and Tina. 

The vampire as a tragic figure was nothing new. As far back as Dracula's Daughter (1936) a person could see that certain strains of the infected openly fought to reverse the curse, who fed only reluctantly, and were consumed with guilt whenever they did cave in. And Curse of the Undead's (1959) gunfighter/vampire Drake Robey has to pay for his earthly sins as one of the maligned undead after he commits suicide. Blacula's anti-hero is no different, but what it adds to the mix is a stronger emphasis on the sensuality and sexual magnetism of the vampire, who no longer needs to enthrall his victim when they'll give themselves over willingly (-- beating John Badham's disco Dracula to the punch by almost a decade). The cinematic origins of the woe is me, and cursed to walk the Earth alone, vampire can also be traced to Blacula; and borrowing an idea from another Universal franchise, namely The Mummy, Torres and Koenig also introduced the notion of a reincarnated lover, with the prospect of a reunion and spending eternity with your soul mate a distinct possibility. And when Mumawalde declares he will not force or coerce Tina into joining him, the vampire movie would never be the same again.

Though thoroughly pasted by the critics when it was released, Blacula did well enough at the box-office that Arkoff and Co. did what they always did and cashed in. Starting with a direct sequel, Scream, Blacula Scream is actually better, I think, than the original. Teaming Marshall with Pam Grier (-- who had replaced Vincent Price as AIP's crown jewel ... not bad considering she started at the company working as a switchboard operator), who plays a voodoo priestess that uses her juju to help Mumawalde free himself from Dracula's curse. In the same vein, AIP went on to make a funkified zombie movie called Sugar Hill, based on a script called Mama Voodoo. They were also involved with the birthing process of Blackenstein, but the film quickly lost favor and they cut it loose. The last all black horror movie that AIP backed was William Girdler's Abby. But after it was released, the company was sued by Warner Bros. because it was nothing more than a carbon-copy of The Exorcist. And since the movie had already made back it's production cost, and then some, it was yanked from circulation without much of a fight. And that was about it for the blaxploitation monster-cycle, as the company concentrated on its actioneers like Coffy, Truck Turner and Black Caesar.

But Blacula was ground zero and started the whole blaxploitation monster mix, and along with it's sequel, is the cream of the admittedly small crop. So my advice, if you wish to explore it yourself, start here first.

More Sinister Soul Cinema

Originally Posted: 10/20/02 :: Rehashed: 11/05/10

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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