Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Blacula (1972).

Yes, it’s a blacksploitation horror and, as you can guess from the title, it’s a riff on the Dracula tale. What you may not guess is that it’s actually quite a good little film.
William Marshall plays the title role (though the character’s proper name is actually Mamuwalde), a man bitten and cursed by Dracula himself in the opening sequence. Fast forward many years and Blacula’s coffin is taken to America by some interior decorators who have managed to pick up everything contained within Dracula’s household for quite a bargain price. It’s not long before people start dying from severe blood loss and Blacula, of course, discovers someone (Vonetta McGee) who seems to be the double of his deceased ex-wife. Thalmus Rasulala plays the cop who first decides to start considering the seemingly impossible as the bodies start to pile up (and, more worryingly, disappear).
While Blacula is not a great movie, in the standard sense, it does compare very favourably when weighed against other blacksploitation movies, and especially blacksploitation horrors. The cast mostly do a very good job with Marshall cutting an impressive figure as the caped vampire, McGee quite adorable and convincingly won over by a loving man and Rasulala putting on a gruff, tough act in a role that Fred Williamson would surely have loved to chew up.
The screenplay by Raymond Koenig and Joan Torres is adequate and contains laughs both intentional and unintentional (something that’s rarely avoidable nowadays when watching anything so very 70s). Where the movie scores is in the banter between Rasulala and everyone around him, especially Lt. Peters (played by Gordon Pinsent)., and in the moments of nobility that Marshall makes the most of.
The direction by William Crain isn’t anything special but it’s quite a compliment that one or two factors haven’t actually dated as badly as you’d think. The classic heart (or should that be soul?) of the tale is timeless. The vampire make-up isn’t all that bad, though Marshall is given some majorly heavy eyebrows when baring his fangs, for some reason. And then we have the vamp to bat transformation, used fleetingly but well done with some simple animation as opposed to the big rubber bats that Hammer used to be so fond of. This ties in nicely to the amusing animated credit sequence.
There’s camp in abundance, the standard funky guitar you’d expect on the soundtrack (though, to be fair, the soundtrack is bloody good and it’s only the groovy 70s dancing that distracts from the enjoyment of the music), Elisha Cook Jr. and an amusing, scene-stealing repeated line delivered by a man named Ji-Tu Cumbuka, who plays a character called Skillet. Do give it a try.

P.S. Only $2.99 from Amazon??? What you waiting for? 

No comments:

Post a Comment