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Film / Blacula

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Deadlier than Dracula!

"You shall pay, black prince. I shall place a curse of suffering on you that will doom you to a living hell. I curse you with my name. You shall be... Blacula!"

Blacula is a 1972 horror film, produced by American International Pictures, featuring the blaxploitation version of the Dracula character. It stars William Marshall (who some may recognize as The King of Cartoons from the later Saturday-morning television series Pee-wee's Playhouse) in the title role. The movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel a year later and also inspired a number of imitators, including Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (directed, like Blacula itself, by William Crain).

In 1780, African prince Mamuwalde (Marshall) and his lovely wife Luva (Vonetta McGee) visit Transylvanian Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay), to dine and enlist his assistance in a proposal put forth by Mamuwalde: ending the slave trade out of Africa. Dracula finds this idea ridiculous, given the "merit" he feels is inherent in slavery. He then makes a pass at Luva. This leads to a fight between Mamuwalde and the vampire's mooks, and both Mamuwalde and Luva are captured. Dracula then turns the prince into a vampire, renames him "Blacula," and seals him inside a coffin, leaving poor Luva to die helplessly beside the coffin in a chamber in the dungeon below the castle.

192 years later, a pair of gay American interior decorators purchase several antiques from the now-long-abandoned castle and have them transported to Los Angeles (including the aforementioned coffin, which—unbeknownst to them—still contains Mamuwalde). Later on, while sorting through the items in a warehouse, they find the coffin and decide to open it—only to wind up attacked and killed by the freshly-released and seriously hungry vampire. Mamuwalde begins to roam the city's streets at night, a handsome and debonair black gentleman who just happens to suddenly grow a pair of wild sideburns when his hunger rises, and the body count increases around the neighborhood. This draws Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), a forensics expert with the LAPD, into the case. Meanwhile, Mamuwalde has discovered a young woman named Tina (McGee) who looks exactly like his long-deceased wife.

The story was continued in a 1973 sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, in which Mamuwalde is resurrected by an angry young man to kill Lisa (Pam Grier), the new leader of a group of voodoo practicioners. Instead, he tries to get her help in curing him of his vampirism.

This film provides examples of:

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  • Antagonist Title: The film is named after its bad guy. However, in actual dialogue he mostly goes by his real name, Mamuwalde.
  • Anti-Villain: Blacula, who, while not quite a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire, is still a sympathetic and tragic character.
  • Blaxploitation: The film's genre is a cross-over between horror and this.
  • Briefer Than They Think: In popular culture, Blacula is usually mistaken for a stock character who appeared in a series of Blaxploitation horror films. In reality, the movie only had one sequel. To be fair, the character arguably inspired other Blaxploitation horror films.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Blacula easily takes down anyone who picks a fight with him.
  • The Future Is Shocking: Oddly averted. Vampire or no, you'd expect Mamuwalde would be at least somewhat nonplussed by the abrupt transition from the 1780s to the 1970s, but if so he doesn't show it.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Count Dracula for both movies. He never appears again beyond the prologue in the first movie, but he is very much responsible for Mamulwade's condition and far more evil than the eponymous Anti-Villain. Of course, Dracula's primary goal is just to keep vampirisim alive—and, indeed, through Mamuwalde it persists into at least the 1970s.
  • I Am a Monster: Definitely some undertones with Mamulwade, it's obvious he doesn't enjoy being a vampire but his instincts force him to feed and turn others. Prevalent in he sequel when he addresses his minions that Lisa is off limits to bite, once he does he orders them to leave stating their pale faces "sicken even him [him]" as he knows he's the cause of their undead status and is reminded of that. He catches himself though and at the least wishes them a good night.
  • Jive Turkey: Blacula himself speaks in a very refined manner, but several other characters are very much a product of their time and place.
  • Messy Hair: The vampires all gain wild and unkempt hair once they turn.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • Everyone Blacula kills comes back as a vampire themselves. Sometimes they take long enough to come back for them to be buried, sometimes they come back almost immediately. They are vulnerable to crosses, to the point where one vampire is apparently killed by one.
    • Further, vampires cannot be photographed, and Blacula can turn into a bat.
    • Blacula himself gains both fangs and a wild set of sideburns whenever he gets hungry and attacks.
    • The vampires also seem to gain wild features when they turn, to the point they almost look like zombies (Dracula's brides are all green skinned, for example). The sequels play this up a bit, as two turned characters, Willis and his girlfriend Denny, are shown looking like normal humans when not showcasing their fangs.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Dracula finds slavery a good idea in the intro. Again, he is a monster that makes a habit of turning people into his undead slaves. He also gives the title character his nickname just to add insult to injury.
  • Red Shirt: Most of the uniformed cops in the movie's climax.
  • Scary Black Man: Zig-zagged with Mamuwalde. Usually, he's a friendly gentleman for a vampire, but he still needs to feed and doesn't shy away from attacking or killing innocents. Played straight whenever he vamps out.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mamuwalde wishes for you to understand that he does not wish to engage in an exchange of banalities with pseudointellectuals and dilettantes, when dignitaries of your stature could instead be lending the weight of your statesmanship to the fulfillment of his objectives.
  • Sideburns of Evil: Blacula. When he vamps out, it's like his face grows fangs, too.
  • Tragic Monster: Blacula himself, turned into a vampire by Dracula and forced to give in to his vampiric urges. He actually seems like a decent person most of the time, and the sequel goes a little further, with him trying to get Lisa to undo the vampirisim on him via a voodoo ritual.
  • Undeathly Pallor: All the turned victims sport this.
  • Wicked Cultured: Blacula, even moreso than Dracula.

  • Africa Is a Country: Mamuwalde is supposed to be a prince from somewhere in Africa, but where, exactly, we aren't told.
  • And I Must Scream: Averted; Billy Schaffer became a vampire after his coffin was buried. Thankfully, he is spared an extremely claustrophobic eternal life when Dr. Gordon digs up his coffin, opens it, and stakes him when he tries to attack.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Which, like the rest of the '70s, is funky as hell! (Watch it here.)
  • Asshole Victim: Officer Baxter, who had previously deliberately lost the files on McCoy and Billy’s murders and autopsies and not investigated their murders out of prejudice, is eaten by Nancy, the vampirized nightclub photographer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All the vampires are destroyed, but Tina - the main heroine of the movie - is also killed. Mamuwalde's own death is also played for tragedy.
  • Bury Your Gays: Gay couple Bobby McCoy and Billy Schafer are Blacula's first victims. Unusually for this trope, they are not treated simply as disposable victims, as their death is what attracts the attention of all the non-vampire characters to Mamuwalde's escapades, and there are a few scenes showing preparations for their funerals.
  • Camp Gay: The two men who unwittingly purchase Blacula's coffin are very flamboyant. Well, they are from California and all.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Mamuwalde encountering the reincarnation of his wife in the exact time and place where he's freed from his long confinement certainly counts. The fact that Mamuwalde's girlfriend is the sister of the woman dating the pathologist investigating Mamuwalde's crimes is also quite a coincidence.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Dr. Thomas and his girlfriend exhume one of Blacula's now-vampirized victims in one of these.
  • Dead Star Walking: Well-known character actor Elisha Cook Jr. shows up for two scenes as coroner Sam, and he gets killed by a vampire in his second scene.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The African Prince Mamuwalde approaches the European nobleman Dracula suggesting that all of the slave trade in Africa be ended. Dracula does not agree, finding the very notion laughable. Indeed, as shown with his undead harem of girls at the beginning of the film, he himself makes a habit of turning people into his unwilling slaves — and proceeds to do exactly this to Mamuwalde.
  • Devoured by the Horde: During the attack on the warehouse the vampires are nesting in, one unfortunate cop is pinned under some crates and then promptly devoured by a horde of vampires.
  • Driven to Suicide: Blacula drags himself out into the daylight after Tina is staked, and thus lost to him forever.
  • Facial Horror: After Blacula commits Suicide by Sunlight, viewers are treated to a time-lapse of his body's decomposition. with the camera lingering on his face as the skin and flesh are being both burned off and devoured by maggots. See the Nightmare Fuel page image...if you dare.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Sam‘s death at the hands of the vampirized cabbie is not seen, though there is a lot of blood left behind.
  • Hate Sink: Though Dracula is only onscreen for the first 10 minutes of the movie, but he manages to show that despite being a vampire who deems himself superior to humanity, he's not all that selective with his racism. Undoubtedly, this is shown to nail in the film's attack on racial prejudice.
  • He Knows Too Much / Missing Reflection: Nancy, the nightclub photographer, who takes a picture of Blacula dancing with Tina and finds he doesn’t show up in the pictures, is followed by Blacula to her workshop at her home next door to the club, attacked and turned by him into a vampire to make sure she can't show anyone the evidence.
  • Hero Antagonist: Dr. Thomas, the pathologist investigating Mamuwalde's murders, and who also happens to be dating the sister of the woman Mamuwalde is most interested in.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: In the chemical plant, Blacula grabs one of the cops who finds him, lifts him above his head, and tosses him down the stairs into two over cops who are coming up.
  • Karma Houdini: Count Dracula does not reappear after the prologue. Then again, the beginning of the movie is set prior to the events of the main novel, so he does eventually pay for his crimes, just not by Blacula's hands.
  • Kill It with Fire: Several vampires (but not Blacula himself) are dispatched in this manner.
  • Leg Focus: Reflecting the fashion of the period, Tina wears extremely short dresses in a couple of scenes including a Male Gaze sequence when Blacula is following her from the funeral parlor.
  • Male Gaze: During one of the musical numbers at the nightclub, we get some gratuitous closeups of the female singer's (and various female dancers') scantily-clad anatomy. Not to mention Tina's legs, when Blacula is following her from the funeral parlor.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: While most of the talk about Bobby and Billy emphasizes that they were a gay couple, the fact that they were an interracial gay couple is also subtly underscored in the way the preparations for their (separate) funerals are shown. The funeral industry is shown as heavily segregated along racial lines, which is still somewhat true to this day.
  • Man on Fire: Thomas and Peters dispatch several vampires in the warehouse by throwing oil lamps at them that set them alight.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Thomas and Peters use oil lamps as makeshift Molotov cocktails during the fight in the warehouse; killing multiple vampires by throwing the lamps at them to set them alight. Weirdly the lamps burst immediately into flame when they shatter on the vampires, despite not being lit when thrown. Maybe vampires are self-igniting?
  • Never My Fault: The cabbie that runs over Blacula immediately begins chewing him out for standing in the middle of the road rather than apologize. She quickly changes her tune when he vamps out, not that it helps her.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Mamuwalde's wife, Tuva, is apparently reincarnated as Tina, whom he pursues relentlessly.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Blacula, in the climax:
    "Dr. Thomas! You and your dear friends are dead! Not one man shall escape my vengeance! Not one man shall leave here alive! Search out every shadow, every corner! This will be your inglorious tomb! Your tomb! Your tomb! Your tomb!"
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Blacula, trapped for over nearly two centuries in a sealed coffin, until the two Camp Gay men unleash him.
  • Shovel Strike: As Billy learns, vampire or not, being hit with a shovel will incapacitate you.
  • Suicide by Sunlight: Blacula ends his un-life this way, once he decides that there's nothing to keep him in the world anymore.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Dr. Thomas is technically not a policeman, but he's police-adjacent, being a forensic pathologist. Lt. Peters is a cop, but Thomas is clearly the de facto leader of the team. Unlike most instances of this trope, they are victorious at the end of the story.
  • Time Skip: From 1780 to 1972 after the intro.
  • Unexplained Accent: Dracula speaks with a British accent, despite being a Romanian played by an American. The accent would make sense if he was getting ready for his trip to Britain, but this takes place over a hundred years before he leaves.
  • Vampire Hunter: Dr. Gordon Thomas becomes this over the course of the film.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: One of Blacula's unfortunate victims rises from death after her body is removed from the freezer and defrosts.

     Scream Blacula Scream 
  • Back from the Dead: Well it is a sequel. But yeah, Blacula returns when Willis uses a voodoo ritual on his bones to bring him back. Largely as a way to have him kill Lisa when she's named head of their voodoo family.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The police come to arrest Lisa, leaving Mamuwalde to save her. After he presumably kills the two men, it's revealed the police are friends with Justin and only meant to evacuate her to the station to protect her. Of course, Mamuwalde probably would have killed them anyway since he needs Lisa to perform the ritual.
  • Downer Ending: The ritual to make Blacula human again is ruined, Lisa becomes too scared by his feral nature to help him again and ultimately she has to kill him before kills Justin via the voodoo doll she was using for the ritual.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Bit of a theme in this one as the family Lisa and Willis come from are voodoo practitioners.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Blacula's goal in this one. Once he finds out Lisa has voodoo heritage, he asks her to help break the vampire curse. She comes close, but the cops interrupting the ritual spoils things at the last minute.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: It's implied at the end that Blacula wants to bite and turn Justin not only out of blind rage, but also to punish Lisa for refusing to help him anymore.
  • Mugging the Monster: Attempted by a couple of pimps. Blacula puts them in their place easily.
  • Mythology Gag: Mamuwalde's backstory in the first movie is heavily influenced from The Mummy (1932). Here it comes full circle, with the heroine coming into her full powers to destroy Mamuwalde in the end.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Thanks to Justin's raid on the compound, the ritual to restore Mamuwalde's humanity is ruined before competition. Causing Blacula to go into rage and accept his monstrous nature.
  • No-Sell: Blacula gets stabbed and shot at, but it doesn't bother him in the slightest.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Defied. Lisa notes something familiar about Mamuwalde, but he doubts she's Luva's reincarnation. Given how little time has passed from the first movie, Lisa is probably too old to be Tina's reincarnation either.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Gloria, one of Blacula's victims and a friend of Lisa, wakes up in her coffin during her wake, right in front of Lisa.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Blacula justifiably thinks so, especially of the pimps.
    Blacula: You've made a slave of your sister. You're still slaves, imitating your slave masters!
  • The Starscream: Willis at the start when he isn't named the next voodoo head of the family and instead Lisa, who was adopted into the family, is the one who gained the title. The story kicks off when he resurrects Blacula to kill her for him, only to be bitten, turned and put under Blacula's power instead.
  • Storming the Castle: Justin and a squad of cops do this at Willis manor. We see some cops managing to stake a few vamps. But some vampires likewise getting the drop on a few cops.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: After the ritual is ruined, Blacula goes into rage and starts killing cops left and right, shouting "I AM BLACULA!"
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In the first movie, Blacula was often polite and rarely violent except when he needed to feed, refusing to force Tina to love him. After being brought back, even before Then Let Me Be Evil the end, he's much crueler to the vampires he turns, forcing Willis to stay in his house and reminding him that he's a slave to him now. Then again, coming back to unlife against his will, given the state of mind he was in when he died, might have something to do with his personality shift.
  • Vampire Monarch: While Mamuwalde was also this in the first movie, this film emphasizes it when he commands his vampire minions that Lisa is not to be harmed, lest they suffer his punishment. He also exerts his power when Willis' girlfriend, whom Willis turned, gets a bit too uppity at him at one point.
  • Vampires Sleep in Coffins: Just before the raid on Willis house, we see a lower section where coffins are kept and the vampires within waking up to go combat the intruders.
  • Voodoo Doll: Lisa uses one in the ritual to attempt to restore Mamwalde's humanity. As well as uses it to kill him in the climax.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Scream Blacula Scream


Blacula [Missing In A Photo]

Scene from the 1972 film, Blacula. Blacula goes to a club to talk with Tina, who's the reincarnation of his dead wife, in the hope of wooing her. On his way out, a photographer of the club takes a picture of them just thinking them a cute couple. That is until she goes home and develops the film.

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