An 18th century African prince is turned into a vampire while visiting Transylvania. Two centuries later, he rises from his coffin attacking various residents of Los Angeles and meets Tina, a woman who he believes is the reincarnation of his deceased wife.
The name “Blacula” indicates a less than stellar cinematic experience but the flick actually delivers the goods in most things; solid acting (particulary the lead), decent scares and a surprisingly thoughtful and tragic story.
William Marshall registers strongly as Prince Mamuwalde who travels to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania and is soon attacked and cursed by the vampire Count. Fast forward some 200 years and the black prince awakens in modern LA.
Woven into the storyline is Mamuwalde’s wife, Luva, whom Dracula also killed and he’s convinced he’s found her reincarnated in Tina (McGee) and she becomes his sole reason for living in his cursed existence.
“Blacula” is a little rough looking in it’s opening stages and some set pieces fall rather flat. I don’t know if it was filmed in sequence but it gets much better as it goes along and there are a couple of outstanding seat jumpers along the way that manage to scare even by today’s standards. The tragic love story is well handled and Marshall is excellent as Mamuwalde/Blacula. All others range from decent to fairly lame. The finale; where Blacula beats up a lot of cops in an underground facility is very entertaining and the film wraps up in a very satisfying way.
I’m no expert on Blaxploitation films but “Blacula” is one of the higher rated entries in the horror genre and I can see why. There are, of course, very dated fashions and some hilarious outfits and hairstyles on display here along with a very groovy soundtrack (and a big pause on events to listen to a couple of musical numbers in a nightclub) but I believe this is a stable in the Blaxploitation genre and as such; it’s very welcomed and certainly gives the film a unique style of it’s own.
In the end; Blaxploitation film or not; “Blacula” is a good horror film that’s treading much covered ground but imbues it with a fresh take on the material (that’s often been covered since), a sense of style, very decent scares and a great central performance by a very forceful actor.