Blacula (1972)

 

1972 was a big year for Blaxploitation movies (also seeing the release of Superfly and Barry Shear’s Across 110th Street). But this movie probably tops the bizarre-o-meter – Meet Dracula’s soul brother . . .

When 18th-century African prince Mamuwalde journeyed to Europe to petition an end to slavery, his mission took him to Transylvania and the castle of a certain Count Dracula.

Two hundred years pass, and in a Los Angeles warehouse holding a shipment of Transylvanian antiques sits Mamuwalde’s coffin with the prince still inside – waiting, undead, not a bad guy really, but cursed.

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Mamuwalde (William Marshall) escapes his coffin and makes his entrance into Los Angeles society. But although personable and polite, he is never quite accepted.

Maybe it is his long black cape. or his unavailability during daylight hours, or his curious manner of speaking: “please forgive me. I must depart now. I have indeed had a rare pleasure.” (he is off to sink his teeth into a pretty nightclub photographer).

Mamuwalde’s problem is that although he really enjoys drinking people’s blood, he unfortunately falls in love with Tina, whose best friend, Michelle, works for Dr Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala) of the police department.

The police, of course, are powerless – one even grows fangs and joins the other side – but not Dr Thomas, who does his research, sharpens his wooden stakes and brings matters to their necessary conclusion.

But for Mamuwalde, while he lasts, there is at least the compensation that Tina loves him too, and she is played by Vonetta McGee – possibly one of the most beautiful women in 1970s movies.