While on a visit to Transylvania to enlist Count Dracula’s help in stopping the 18th century slave trade, the African prince Mamuwalde is bitten, turned into a vampire, and entombed for the next three centuries. Upon awakening, “Blacula” finds himself in the Watts neighborhood of 1970s Los Angeles. In pursuit of a woman who looks suspiciously like his dead wife (Vonetta McGee), Blacula leaves a trail of bloodless bodies in his wake, rousing attention from the local authorities.
Featuring a regal yet perfectly hammy performance by William Marshall, a top-notch, funky score by Gene Page with contributions from R&B acts The Hues Corporation and 21st Century Ltd.— and most notable for being helmed by African-American filmmaker William Crain in a time when Black auteurs were often not given the opportunity to tell their own stories — this blaxploitation riff on Bram Stoker’s classic character is a potent allegory for the long-lasting horrors of slavery. BLACULA is an excellent example of the power of low-budget genre films in giving voice to the disenfranchised — while also being a rollicking good time.
“Although the title may seem overly simplistic and obvious…BLACULA itself is no joke and is, in fact, a legitimate and even dignified horror film with terrifying scenes and enduring moral questions.” —J.C. Macek III, PopMatters
“What makes BLACULA such an iconic part of the Blaxploitation and vampire canons is how the movie uses his displacement in time to illustrate how the legacy of anti-Black racism reaches into the present to inflict harm on people in different ways.” —Charles Pulliam-Moore, Gizmodo
“If BLACKENSTEIN was one of the worst Blaxploitation films ever made, BLACULA is easily one of the best. Respected stage actor [William] Marshall is outstanding in this subtle tongue-in-cheek version of the vampire legend.” —TV Guide