Blacula / Scream Blacula Scream (DVD)

These gems from the early 70’s are Blaxploitation at its best. Both have dated, obviously but are fun reminders of when cinema was allowed to venture into eccentric territory and give audiences something just a tad different.

Blacula (1972)
Centuries ago Count Dracula visited an African Prince named Mamuwalde and transformed him into a vampire. Now known as Blacula he is a cursed living corpse living a life of trapped purgatory. Years later, two decorators transport his coffin to the US and Blacula is unleashed in the modern world. Directed by William Craine this is pure horror hokum of the highest order and doesn’t try and dress itself up as anything else. Marshall obviously relishes playing such a large role at last breaking out of TV actor hell. The title music is bold, funky and brassy, just like you’d expect it to be. Crain made his name on the cool TV show The Mod Squad and really didn’t hit such heights again although he did give the world Dr Black, Mr Hyde in 1976.

Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973)
A man named Willis is informed by a Voodoo priestess that he will not automatically assume the position of Cult Leader following the death of his mother. Seeking revenge he receives a bag of human bones and unwittingly resurrects Count Blacula. Though not as funky as the first instalment this one still has much fun to the casual horror fan. Slightly stronger in material and content it does over stay its welcome slightly but still is very entertaining and with a cast that includes Pam Grier and Richard Lawson, it’s a fine example of seventies cinema. A third movie never materialised and perhaps that’s a good thing as this was a good way to end the short series.

Both movies have something to say about the period they were created and rightly deserve the respect other movies of the same ilk (namely Shaft and Super Fly) enjoy. In fact these are sweet soul cinema heaven. As Hollywood ploughs the archives for inspiration I wager that, before too long, we’ll get a trendy update of these minor classics but I’ll also add that they’ll just not be the same in this PC world.

EXTRAS Theatrical trailers are the only extras here. Surely such movies at least deserve some sort of retrospective documentary charting their impact on such a diverse era of cinema?

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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