For every decade in film history there will always be films that instantly define them. Often when we think of the 30s we think of Gone with the Wind, Frankenstein or It Happened One Night. 40s would be Citizen Kane, Casablanca. 50s Rebel Without a Cause, Singin In the Rain, Sunset Boulevard. 60s Psycho, The Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia. 70s Star Wars, The Godfather, Jaws. 80s Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, E.T. 90s Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, The Matrix. But these are all the big blockbusters that make all the top ten lists and are universally loved. Sometimes it is the cult films that also define a decade though and when viewed now, perfectly embody that decade. Blacula is one of those films for me and just scream’s 70s.
William Marshall plays Manuwalde, an African Prince in 1780 who meets Count Dracula, gets turned into a vampire and is locked in a coffin and buried. When two antique dealers in 1972 come across the coffin, they unwittingly unleash Blacula on Los Angeles as he sets out to find his reincarnated bride.
Blacula has a high quotient of fun, camp and cheese, but was also much more serious than I remembered upon watching this new Blu-ray. It has a nice edge to it and is actually a little creepy in some places as well. It’s funny how a film will be remembered in your brain as one thing but upon revisiting is quite different. And as far as that retro 70s vibe, Blacula has it all! Great 70s music, great 70s L.A. scenery and characters and language, and a great Blaxploitation aesthetic that really holds up well. And Shout Factory’s new transfer is beautiful. Add to all of this that you get the 1973 sequel Scream Blacula Scream thrown in as a bonus and you are having one great day.
Scream Blacula Scream once again features William Marshall as the titular vampire, this time resurrected from the dead by a voodoo master to seek revenge on a voodoo Queen who betrayed him. Scream Blacula Scream is pretty much an ideal sequel as it takes all that was great about the original and plays it all up. William Marshall is perhaps even better here, more ominous and threatening. And the voodoo angle works really well in the mythos. There is still humor to be found here but overall I would say Scream Blacula Scream is actually a little darker and scarier than the original, which is fine with me.
Overall this is one kick ass double feature Blu-ray of two films that are well worth revisiting. Don’t rely entirely on your memories of these ones, check them out and rediscover why these are iconic 70s horror flicks.
Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream Review