Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


William Marshall
BLACULA (1972). Director: William Crain.

Mamuwalde. an African dignitary (William Marshall), and his wife, are on a mission in Europe to protest the slave trade when they wind up guests in the castle of Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay of The House of Seven Corpses). Dracula ignites the ire of Mamuwalde when he claims to have no problem with slavery and would even like to have the man's wife for himself, and the angry count responds by turning him into a vampire. In modern-times, two interior decorators, Bobby (Ted Harris) and Billy (Rick Metzler). get a consignment of items from Transylvania and make the mistake of opening up "Blacula's" coffin. Blacula sees a woman, Tina (Vonetta McGee of The Eiger Sanction), who he swears is his dead wife, and insinuates himself into her company. Meanwhile, some of Mamuwalde's victims are waking up in the morgue and attacking people. Tina's sister, Michelle (Denise Nicholas), has a boyfriend, Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who investigates the strange deaths  ... Given the popularity of the "blaxploitation" pictures of the period, Blacula was probably inevitable, and it's actually not a bad idea. The storyline is more than workable, but the character of Manuwalde has been reduced to a one-dimensional villain. A bigger problem is the film's leaden direction and pacing, which strips most of the fun out of it, although audiences may have gotten a kick out of the scene when the crazed lady cab driver bitten by Blacula jumps out of the morgue and rushes down the hall in slow motion to chomp on the halpess attendant, played by Elisha Cook! The two likable gay decorators are raging stereotypes and are referred to as "faggots" in several instances, but then blaxploitation pictures could be merciless toward gays. With his dramatic demeanor, handsome features, and magnificent baritone, one would imagine William Marshall [To Trap a Spy] would make a great Dracula, but he's less effective than others in the role. The other cast members are generally good, with Ted Harris being amusing. A trio sings a couple of snappy numbers in a nightclub, including "There He Goes Again," during which the lady vocalist exhibits some amazing terpsichorean gyrations. Followed by Scream, Blacula, Scream. From American-International Pictures.

Verdict: Not as much fun as it sounds. **.


angelman66 said...

I agree, Bill, this was quite a disappointment once I finally saw it after reading about it for so many years. A real bore, and could have used a more charismatic star...
- C

William said...

Yes, it's funny about Marshall -- he had the looks and stature, could do Shakespeare for crying out loud == all I can imagine is that like Francis Lederer he underplays too much to keep from going over the top. In any case, the man should have been riveting and wasn't. Too bad.