mon 27/05/2019

DVD: Blacula - The Complete Collection | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Blacula - The Complete Collection

DVD: Blacula - The Complete Collection

Surprisingly straight Blaxploitation with fangs

Back in black: Blacula (William Marshall) greets Seventies LA

Blaxploitation, like Krautrock, is an early Seventies term that sounds faintly uneasy now. Begun by Hollywood studio hits such as Shaft, the craze for films with mostly black casts and often black creators made expressly for black audiences was basically positive, though. Blacula (1972) gave the vampire flick its makeover, as an 18th-century African prince hoping Count Dracula will help him end the slave trade is instead cursed to be undead, and left entombed till two gay interior designers, distracted by what a feature his coffin will be, unwittingly unleash him on Seventies LA.

Neither Blacula nor its stronger sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, also included on this DVD-Blu-ray collection, are as camp as you might think, though. Classical theatre actor William Marshall plays the prince with dignity and coiled physical power, finding both tragedy and madness in his curse. Pam Grier’s presence in the sequel as an uncharacteristically timid voodoo priestess provides a scene of real force, as she strains to lift Blacula’s curse, playing off a groaning Marshall with strong sexual undercurrents, as nearby his undead army battle the LAPD.

Blacula’s knack for chucking members of one of the USA’s most black-despised police forces through windows was, like several good one-liners, aimed straight at ghetto cinema audiences. Both films lack the energy and enjoyable salaciousness of other Grier-starring productions by the exploitation specialists behind them all, AIP. Blacula especially is pretty straight, and flatly filmed. The films only really needed their titles to turn a profit, but are better than that because of Marshall, playing in a B-movie with fangs and a cloak as if it’s Othello.

Blacula’s knack for chucking members of the LAPD through windows was aimed straight at ghetto cinema audiences

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters