Director: William Crain
Writer: Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig
Starring: William Marshall, Vonetta McGee and Denise Nicholas
This film begins in 1780, in Transylvania at Castle Dracula. We have an African prince, played by William Marshall, along with his bride to be, played by Vonetta McGee, to meet with Count Dracula, played by Charles Macaulay. Marshall is there to put an end to the slave trade that Macaulay is a large player in. He refuses to do so and after insulting his guest, he punishes Marshall. He bites his neck, making him into a vampire and dubbing him Blacula. He also curses McGee.
We then jump to present day, which in this case is 1972. There is an interracial, homosexual couple played by Ted Harris and Rick Metzler. They are at Castle Dracula and are buying it as well as all of its things. They are antiques dealers. We learn that everyone believes Dracula to be a myth that has been exploited in films. The man who is selling to them assures them that he was real. They are shipping everything back to Los Angeles.
Once there, they unlock a casket and Metzler cuts his arm. The blood draws Marshall out and he kills both of them.
Harris is taken to a local funeral home where his friends come to view him. McGee is now playing a woman named Tina. Her sister is there, played by Denise Nicholas, and her boyfriend is played by Thalmus Rasulala. He is a doctor and starts to look into the strange death. He asks the man at the funeral home about the wounds on his neck and about how he was not embalmed due to being completely dry of blood. Marshall is in the next room watching them.
McGee and Nicholas are going to see Harris’ mother, but McGee asks if she can head home, because she is tired. Nicholas tells her that’s fine. McGee is approached on her way home by Marshall. He believes she is his former bride and she is startled. She drops her purse and runs home. Marshall chases after her, but is hit by a taxi driven by Ketty Lester. She gets out and yells at Marshall, but is bitten as well.
We learn that Rasulala works with the police to investigate crimes. He meets with the lieutenant who is played by Gordon Pinsent. He wants to start looking into the deaths of Metzler and Harris as he finds them to be odd. Working at the police station is a coroner played by Elisha Cook Jr. They look over Ms. Lester. Rasulala also asks Pinsent about getting the files for the couple as well. We learn that there was a mess up in paperwork so a sergeant is being sent to that precinct to get it; he is played by Logan Field.
The day is also Nicholas’ birthday, so she goes out with McGee and Rasulala. While they are at a club, Marshall shows up. He brings back McGee’s purse and apologizes to her. They hit it off immediately and she invites him to join her. Marshall is a bit out of place that he is wearing a cape in 70s Los Angeles, but no one really says anything outside of a local hood, played by Ji-Tu Cumbuka. When he joins them, Marshall leaves. As he does, McGee talks to him and a picture is taken of them by Emily Yancy. Later that night, Marshall visits her and bites her neck. To make matters worse, she stumbles out of the house and Field sees her. He is bitten by her.
Rasulala knows something is very wrong when Harris’ body turns up missing from the funeral home. McGee is becoming closer and closer to Marshall. He reveals to her who he is and she now has to consider spending the rest of her life with him. Rasulala begins to suspect a vampire, but he needs proof. Without Harris’ body, he asks to dig up Metzler. Pinsent tries to get a permit, but he is denied. Rasulala digs him up on his own with Nicholas watching. They both see that vampires are real and they kill him again.
Will they figure out that Marshall is the master vampire before it is too late? Can they stop McGee from being turned? Can they stop this threat before too many lives are taken?
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this film. It was better than what I was expecting. I need to point out that this is a blaxploitation film, so you have African-American stereotypes galore and racism. I liked Marshall as well as much of the supporting cast. The story isn’t bad, but this really is a love story with vampires making it dangerous. Marshall doesn’t bite a whole lot of people, but he does rank up a decent body count. The early vampires he creates are the ones that turn even more people for him, which in turn builds his army.
I do have an issue with Rasulala. I know that a key to films like this is that they have the no nonsense, rough talking, African-American hero. My problem though is that he is a doctor, but they have with the attitude of Shaft. Doesn’t ruin the film, but I found it odd. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. I will say that Blacula actually loves the woman of his affection more than Dracula did with the selfless act.
With that said I would recommend this film if you are a fan of blaxploitation films and want to see their take on Dracula. This is not a bad film, but it isn’t overly scary. I would really call this more of a love story with vampires. More of the horror does come from Blacula’s creation than his own. The acting isn’t bad and the story is okay. Not the best film out there, but definitely interesting and I would say worth a viewing if this sounds interesting.
My Rating: 6 out of 10