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 (William Marshall) journeyed to Europe to petition an end to slavery, his mission took him via Transylvania and the castle of a certain Count Dracula.
Two hundred years pass and Blacula remains undisturbed until a pair of gay Los Angeles interior decorators, Bobby (Ted Harris) and Billy (Rick Metzler), buy up all the antique furnishings at Castle Dracula and ship them home to the States, expecting to make a fortune.
Soon, Mamuwalde’s coffin sits amongst a job-lot of Transylvanian antiques in an LA warehouse with the prince still inside – waiting, undead, not a bad guy really, but cursed. He escapes his coffin and makes his entrance into California society. Bobby and Billy become his first victims.
Tina (Vonetta McGee) and her sister Michelle (Denise Nicholas of Room 222) bring Dr Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala) – Michelle’s boss and fiance who is a police pathologist – to the funeral home to see their friend Bobby’s body.
Gordon examines the body and finds strange neck wounds. He becomes even more curious when mortician Swenson (Lance Taylor Sr.) tells him there is no blood in the body.
Meanwhile, Mamuwalde gets out and about in LA, but – although personable and polite – he is never quite accepted.
Maybe it is his long black cape, 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 falls in love with Tina and his desire and fury is uncontrollable. Sadly, cab driver Juanita Jones (Ketty Lester) is soon another slave victim. Gordon is stunned when a routine examination of Juanita’s body reveals the same strange wounds as he found on Bobby’s body.
Homicide detective Jack Peters (Gordon Pinsent) has no leads on the killings but promises to check the reports.
Tina, Gordon and Michelle are at the Ethiopia Club celebrating Michelle’s birthday when Blacula appears and Tina feels an overpowering attraction. He apologises for frightening her and introduces himself as Mamuwalde, but leaves quickly, furious, when the club photographer, Nancy, (Emily Yancy), takes his picture with Tina. Blacula soon has another victim.
Tortured by his desire for Tina, Blacula goes to her apartment, telling her his horrible story and begging her to join him as a vampire.
Meanwhile, Gordon and Michelle are attacked by Billy’s body after digging up his grave looking for evidence. Realising that Juanita must also be a vampire, Gordon takes Detective Peters to the morgue to prove his story.
When they arrive Sam (Elisha Cook Jr.), the attendant, can’t be found but suddenly Juanita attacks. Gordon thrusts a cross in her face, forcing her to a window where the early morning rays kill her. Peters is now totally convinced that vampires really are loose in the city.
When Gordon discovers Mamuwalde is the vampire, he realises that Tina is in grave danger.
Using his telepathic powers, Mamuwalde has guided Tina to a huge underground complex (the Hyperion Outfall Treatment Plant, a sewage processing complex in Playa del Rey) but Michelle, Gordon and the police are not far behind.
Blacula and Tina make a desperate attempt to escape through the maze of passages and the police fire at Blacula – but Tina falls to the ground.
Knowing that she is dying. Blacula clutches her from death by making her a vampire.
Gordon and Peters find Blacula’s coffin and quickly open the lid, plunging a stake into the sleeping body. They discover too late that it is Tina they have destroyed, not Blacula.
His love is lost again and Blacula takes no more revenge. Without Tina, he knows he cannot endure the life he has been cursed to live. He walks quietly up the stairs and into the deadly rays of the rising sun.
When Gordon and the others arrive all they find is a cape covering a rotting skeleton. But for Mamuwalde, while he lasted, there was at least the compensation that Tina loved him – and that she was played by Vonetta McGee, possibly one of the most beautiful women in 1970s movies.
Dr Gordon Thomas
Lt. Jack Peters
Lance Taylor Sr.
Elisha Cook Jr.