Blacula (1972), or Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh

3 02 2009
Okay, so hes already been killed in the poster? Someone ought to tell the sequel...

Okay, so he's already been killed in the poster? Someone ought to tell the sequel...

Now, I know what you’re thinking, guys. Why am I not saving this perennial blaxploitation horror film for Halloween? Or at least until after Labor Day? Well, unlike you small-minded bigots out there (I’m looking at you, Nic Cage), I think Blacula needs to be talked about more often! It was one of the short-lived blaxploitation genre’s few attempts at horror! How often do you watch a movie like this in your entire life? Not often! And don’t worry. I have something special planned for Halloween, just you wait. So wake up, folks! It’s time for a chat about everyone’s favorite vampire from the heart of the dark continent.

So, I think the story is taken directly from the unabridged text of Bram Stoker’s seminal work Dracula, about the titular vampire and his reign of terror throughout Western Europe. And I’m pretty sure about this, but in the original, unaltered copy, I believe there was an entire chapter devoted to Mamuwalde, the African prince. That’s right! Mamuwalde, in a frenzy about the slave trade purging his nation of citizens, comes to Count Dracula for aid (for some reason) in halting the slavers invading his country. But damn it, in yet another instance of keeping the black man down, it turns out everyone’s favorite blood-sucking child of the night also happens to be a racist! And if I can’t even trust Dracula, well I might as well throw myself off a god-damn bridge, because every relationship I have with other human beings has just become suspect. So instead of helping our heroic prince, Dracula, in full dick-mode, turns the guy into a vampire and locks him in a coffin! Mamuwalde’s wife is locked in a coffin as well, but because she is not a  vampire, she starves to death!!! And, to add even more insult to injury, Dracula names him Blacula just to be a wise-ass!!!!! Damn, that’s cold! Anyway, almost two-hundred years later (and this is still verbatim from the Bram Stoker book; why would I lie?), the coffin encasing Blacula has found its way to the States, where it has been bought by two flaming interior decorators (!!!) as a kitschy accessory. Really. But being not only gay but also curious, the intrepid couple open the coffin and release Blacula, who is just starving. And after his au flambé appetizers, he stalks the modern American city, looking for more victims. But as he wanders, he comes across a girl named Tina, who looks surprisingly like his dead wife. What does this mean? Who is this Tina? And can she stop the terror known as Blacula?

You know, we’re all adults here. Let’s be honest. This is a funny movie. Perhaps unintentionally, but come on. Who rents a movie called Blacula looking for answers to life’s great questions? I mean, besides me? You see? No one. It’s just a fun time. It brings out in full flesh the early 70’s and the rise of black-centric films. These were films about the fashion and the hip dialog, not about black vampires or gay interior designers.  Were they exploitative? Sure. But who was exploiting who? These were movies by black actors and directors. This wasn’t the white man keeping anyone down. This was black Hollywood turning convention on its head. Many of these films were satirical in nature, and when they weren’t they at least brought a serious message about racism, black poverty, and minority infighting to the forefront of American discourse. So take that, whitey! Black people can make their own movies, and they can be just as good or better than yours!

As for Blacula, the cast is good, the direction is decent for the budget, and the dialog isn’t the worst I’ve heard in a blaxploitation film. Fun fact: this movie actually won the first Saturn Award in 1972 for Best Horror Film. Nice! If I had to take anything off for serious points, it would be the premise and the plot. It is fucking ridiculous. Why would you go to Dracula for help to protect your country? That’s like hiring on the Chupacabra as a ranch-hand. You’re just inviting trouble on yourself. But what do I know? I’m just “The Man”, trying to keep everyone down…

Just watch this, will ya? Sometimes, you just gotta laugh. It’s funny, the premise is balls-to-the-wall insane, and you’ll have a hoot while discussig race relations with your significant other or friend. Not bad for a movie named Blacula! I give it 7 interior-decorating life-partners out of 10.

See you tomorrow, for the PSA! And don’t forget to leave comments and suggestions for me!!!

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