Scream Blacula Scream (1973, Bob Kelljan)


An occasional series where I write about works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: Los Angeles, the early 1970s.

Faithful to the novel? This is a quickly made sequel to the 1972 film Blacula. It was released just 10 months later, and lead vampire Mamuwalde (William Marshall) is the only returnee. This time, the story is centred on a voodoo cult. (Coincidentally, the same year’s James Bond film, the blaxploitation crossover Live and Let Die, also dabbled in voodoo.) When Lisa (Pam Grier) is appointed its new leader, a rival called Willis (Richard Lawson) is jealous. So he resurrects Blacula to help get revenge. However, Mamuwalde turns him into a vampire, then meets Lisa and her boyfriend, Justin (Don Mitchell), who has a collection of artifacts from Mamuwalde’s home country. After a low-energy horror plot, Lisa kills Mamuwalde via the use of a voodoo doll. At one point, Mamuwalde turns into bat to escape a house where he’s just killed. The real Count Dracula appears in a flashback to the first movie.

Best performance: Pam Grier, who was hot from blaxploitation classic Coffy, is quiet and downbeat as Lisa. It’s not a performance as dazzling as her later turn in Jackie Brown, but she undeniably had screen presence in the early 70s.

Best bit: Having been turned into a vampire, the vain Willis is aghast that he can no longer see himself in a mirror. “How do I look, man?” he asks Mamuwalde.

Review: Scream Blacula Scream is more competently made than the first movie. There’s craft in this filmmaking and the direction is crisper and more inventive. Tension is well generated and the deaths are well staged. There’s also more psychological horror on show: characters are confronted by former friends who are now undead, for example. But it’s also a slower film and less fun. Perhaps the most interesting element is its political edge. In one scene, Blacula berates two black pimps for being as bad as slavers.

Seven mirrors out of 10

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