Blacula


Also found in: Wikipedia.
Enlarge picture
Author J. Gordon Melton in front of a restaurant at the Golden Krone Hotel in Bistritz. The sign discusses Jonathan Harker’s stop at the same restaurant in Dracula

Blacula

(pop culture)

In the late 1960s the movie industry began to generate a series of movies specifically directed toward the African-American community. While the vampire was essentially a European folk character, and there have been only a few references to vampires in Africa or in African-American lore, it was inevitable that “blaxploitation” producers would consider the possibilities of a Black vampire motion picture. In 1972 the first of the two most important African-American vampire movies, Blacula, starring William Marshall, appeared.

Blacula told the story of Prince Mamuwalde, an African leader in 1780 who was trying to find a way to stop the slave trade that haunted Africa’s west coast. He sought out Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to obtain his assistance in the endeavor. Dracula merely laughed at the Prince, who with his wife Luva, started to leave. Before they could get away, however, they were attacked by Dracula and his vampire cohorts. Mamuwalde was vampirized and sealed in a tomb. Luva was left to die of starvation, unable to help her husband as Dracula cursed Mamuwalde to become Blacula, his African counterpart.

The story then switches to 1965 when some Americans purchase the furnishings of Castle Dracula and ship them to Los Angeles, unaware that the ornate coffin they have obtained houses Blacula’s body. Blacula is awakened and discovers a new love, Tina, the exact image of his Luva. As the plot progresses, she falls victim to a shooting incident, and he turns her into a vampire to save her. But then she is staked to death, and in his grief Blacula commits suicide by walking into the sunlight.

Blacula was revived by the magic of voodoo a year later in a sequel, Scream Blacula Scream. In collusion with the voodoo priestess Lisa, he searches for a way to rid himself of his vampirism, but is thwarted by the police. In a novel, but entirely appropriate, twist of the storyline, he is killed by a pin stuck through the heart of a voodoo doll.

Because of the large audience of vampire movie enthusiasts, the Blacula movies have had a heightened popularity and join the list of those few blaxploitation films which found a broad audience beyond the African-American community. Blacula was awarded the Ann Radcliffe Award by the The Count Dracula Society.

Sources:

Flynn, John L. Cinematic Vampires. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 1992. 320 pp.
Gross, Edward, and Marc Shapiro. The Vampire Interview Book: Conversations with the Undead. East Meadow, NY: Image Publishing, 1991. 134 pp.
References in periodicals archive ?
Over my wife's side of the bed is his Bride of Frankenstein, and over my side of the bed is Blacula.
Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between
Blacula and APSalem's Lot, Roots and Rosemary's Baby.
The playwrights, for instance, have to set their shows in a bar, even if they write about Blacula coming through a second-story window.
White Blacula is a band that's great fun live and I always love to watch Mugstar.
During the brief explosion of 'blaxploitation' cinema in the early 1970s, the dudes had Shaft, Super Fly and Blacula while the girls had Coffy - billed as "the baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town".
Naar, a former William Morris agent who went on to produce blaxploitation vampire pies "Blacula" and "Scream Blacula Scream" as well as TV series "Starsky & Hutch," died Jan.
Insua, Jacinto Molina [Paul Naschy], story Jacinto Molina, cinematography: Raul Perez Cubero, film editing: Petra de Nieva, special effects: Pablo Perez, make-up: Emilio Puyol, art directors: Jose Luis Galicia, Jaime Perez Cubero, music: Carmelo Bernaola, cast: Paul Naschy Rossana Yanni, Haydee Politoff Mirta Miller, Ingrid Garbo, Vic Winner, Jose Manuel Martin; Scream, Blacula, Scream / Blacula Lives Again
The following twenty feature length films with theatrical release dates between 1971 to 1976 were analyzed for this project: Shaft (1971), Sweetback (1971), Women in Cages (1971), The Big Bird Cage (1972), Black Mama/White Mama (1973), Blacula (1972), Slaughter (1972), Super Fly (1972), Coffy (1973), The Arena (1974), Cleopatra Jones (1973), Cotton Comes to Harlem (1973), Scream Blacula, Scream (1973), Foxy Brown (1974), Willie Dynamite (1974), Bucktown (1975), Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975), Friday Foster (1975), Sheba Baby (1975), and Car Wash (1976).
1) Most of these movies dealt with urban strife, poverty, and crime, but, in 1972, the genre expanded beyond the confines of gritty realism with William Crain's Blacula.
The vampire may be staked to death or reduced to ashes by the sun at the end of El Vampiro (1957), The Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), Blacula (1972), Fright Night (1985), or Dracula 2000 (2000), but all that's needed to revive him is a little blood, a voodoo ritual, or the removal of a cross from the corpse.
We wanted a grittier, grainier look, a little more old school, like when I was a kid watching movies like Blacula or The Omega Man," he explains.