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Blacula / Scream Blacula Scream (1972/1973) - Blu-ray Review

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Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream (1972/1973) - Blu-ray Review

s stars

He’s one strange dude.

Blacula, starring William Marshall (who would go on to become television’s The King of Cartoons on Pee-wee's Playhouse), and its immediate sequel Scream Blacula Scream (with the feisty Pam Grier) live again on Scream Factory’s twofer blu-ray release. The first film in the short-lived series is an undisputable classic entry in the vampire sub-genre of horror. It’s sharp and effective and, while held back by its low budget, doesn’t suck (pun intended). While the sequel pales in comparison, both films offer insight into the Blaxploitation era of filmmaking as they stand one their own in the vaults of horror.

Released in 1972, Blacula is the story of Prince Mamuwalde (Marshall) and his life-changing encounter in 1780 with Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) after a disagreement over stopping the deadly Abani African slave trade. Mamuwalde’s wife, Luva (Vonetta McGee), is also imprisoned and eventually dies. Flash forward to the year of the movie’s release. Two stereotypically gay interior designers come face-to-face, in a rather humorous confrontation, with an awoken Blacula. Their mission? His first victims.

Two strange bites upon the neck. It has the entire district of Watts in an uproar. Mourners of his first victims come and go and Blacula, hiding in the shadows, finally finds what he is looking for: his wife. Soon enough, Blacula is roaming the streets of Los Angeles in pursuit of Tina (McGee), as he believes her to be his reincarnated wife. Capes and the ghetto don’t mix, though. Blacula draws a lot of attention and, unbeknownst to him, seals his own fate in the search for love among the ruins.

Directed by William Crain, Blacula is fairly low on an actual plot but does manage to engage with its prime directive for camp. It’s cheesy fun that manages to also be a tight-fisted thriller when it needs fresh victims which is why it continues to earn respect as one of the better post-Lugosi Dracula films. None of that overshadows the fact that the movie is forever firmly attached to its era, complete with a funky soundtrack and a classic contribution from The Hues Corporation (who also appear in the film with a lengthy song and dance routine).

Deemed a success, it was a virtual no-brainer to resurrect Prince Mamuwalde for another cheaply-produced nocturnal adventure only a year later. Unfortunately, 1973’s Scream Blacula Scream has only a couple of bright spots. One of them being Pam Grier as a voodoo queen in training. With even less of a plot than the first one, Bob Kelljan’s film – again produced by American International Pictures – deals with Mama Loa’s spiteful son, Willis (Richard Lawson), vowing revenge against Grier while, at about the same time, joining Blacula’s growing den of vampires.

As far as commentary goes, Blacula – focusing more on the idea of a black man having to transform himself through slavery in order to be in a white man’s world – is far more effective and angrier than its one and only sequel. Which makes slapping both film films on one disc entirely necessary.

Blacula lives again!

Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream (1972/1973) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 3, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Retaining the grain and grit of its low-budget, Scream Factory presents both films on blu-ray with a new 1080P transfer. Low lighting rules throughout this feature but, in spite of its technical limitations, there is a solid contrast and even the colors appear brighter than before. Skin tones are solid and the details in some of the period clothing. While there is ZERO depth to many of the shots and dirt and some scratches still pop up, Prince Mamuwalde has never looked better. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is perfectly suited for home viewing.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • The commentary from author/film historian/filmmaker David F. Walker brings new life and appreciation to the history of Blacula and Blaxploitation.

Special Features:

Outside of a newly recorded interview with Richard Lawson, there are trailers for both films and nothing else. A bit disappointing for fans of Blaxploitation cinema and Blacula.

  • Richard Lawson Interview (13 min)
  • Trailers

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