Saturday, 6 August 2016

BLACULA **** USA 1972 Dir: William Crain. 93 mins

In 1780 Transylvannia, a pleasant evening spent with a prince (William Marshall) from “the dark continent” and his wife (Vonetta McGee) turns sour when host Count Dracula (Charles Macauley)  starts insisting slavery is a positive thing. The Prince ends up cursed and bitten, fated to an eternity in a locked coffin…
until in the 1970’s, a couple of effeminate antique dealers - viewing Dracula as the height of profitable kitsch (“We’ve seen all his movies!”) – unwittingly unleash him on the streets of contemporary L.A. Marshall has charisma and star quality to spare in this engaging early Blaxploitation flick, and he’s huge fun to watch as he bites mouthy female cab drivers, impresses the ladies at popular nightspots and prompts typical reactions (“Y’know, he is a straaaaange dude!”). It’s uncharacteristically lacking in nudity and sex for a 70’s Blaxploitation flick, and also skimps on the gruesome stuff – the strongest meat is a shot of worms wriggling in Blacula’s eye sockets during the old-fashioned dissolve decomposition at the end. It also plays its tragic romance angle and horror content entirely straight, even delivering one fabulously eerie moment of coroner Elisha Cook Jr pursued and killed in slo-by a creepy morgue-dwelling female vampire. The busy finale opts for an original, disarmingly poignant fate for the film’s magnetic anti-hero.

Review by Steven West





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