Scream Factory performs its magic again by reviving not one but two cult classics from the grave. Blaxploitation gems “Blacula” and “Scream, Blacula, Scream” get the high-definition treatment in this must-have double feature. However, I can’t imagine the release won’t face some controversy based on some of its “dated” content.
In “Blacula,” an African prince (William Marshall) gets turned into a vampire by Count Dracula (Charles McCauley) during a visit to Transylvania. Sealed in a coffin for several lifetimes, Blacula reawakens in 1970s Los Angeles. Leaving a trail of bloodless victims in his wake, he pursues Lina (Vonetta McGee), a woman who bears a striking resemblance to his dead wife. Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala) and top cop Lt. Peters (Gordon Pinsent) are hot on the bloodsucker's trail.
“Scream, Blacula, Scream” follows up the original when a hated rival, Lisa Fortier (Pam Grier), is chosen to lead the voodoo cult of Willis Daniels' (Richard Lawson) late mother. A vengeful Willis brings the doomed vampire Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) back to life. Willis soon finds the vampire too powerful to control, and Lisa agrees to perform a spell that will break the curse placed on the prince. But, when racist sheriff Dunlop (Michael Conrad) gets involved, the vampire unleashes his deadly revenge.
I really enjoyed both “Blacula” and “Scream, Blacula, Scream.” There were many instances where I was left with my jaw on the ground because of what many will find racist and unacceptable in today’s diverse society. Uses of the “N” word to describe African Americans and the “F” word to label homosexuals flew out of characters’ mouths like they were just part of casual conversation.
The use of voodoo chants and rituals in “Scream, Blacula, Scream” might keep some religious folks from taking the movie in. “Blacula” really is just a remake of “Dracula” with African Americans in a contemporary 1970s setting. I found both films to hold a certain passion and striving to be taken seriously in the world of horror. Amongst all the jive-talking is some really intense and scary sequences accomplished by some great camerawork and pacing.
“Blacula” and “Scream, Blacula, Scream” are both rated PG for violence, gore, adult situations, drinking, smoking, references to drug use, and some intense scenes of horror. There’s no nudity but quite a bit of language and stereotypical terms that would be considered unacceptable today. The violence and gore is of the vampire type and not very graphic.
The “Blacula / Scream, Blacula, Scream” Double Feature has some interesting bonus material. Audio commentary is provided by Author / Film Historian / Filmmaker David F. Walker (“Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak”). A new interview with Actor Richard Lawson (“Scream, Blacula, Scream”) is found. Theatrical trailers are included as well.
I’ve never really dived head-on into the genre, but if there were a “King of Blaxploitation Films” it would have to be “Blacula.” Its right-hand man would have to be “Scream, Blacula, Scream.” I’ve never witnessed anything so politically incorrect by today’s standards, yet so awkwardly fun, in my entire life. Somehow, they’re also fueled with social and racial commentary that speaks for the African American of the 1970s. Blacula’s plight was put upon him by the evil white Dracula. By the second film, all he wants is to be free from his bloodlust. However, he always strives to be a champion of his race.
The “Blacula / Scream, Blacula, Scream” Double Feature is available now on Blu-ray.