From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
In the year 1790, African Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) and his wife Luva (Vonetta McGee) visit the country of Transylvania and its most popular resident, Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) in an effort to get help to end the slave trade. It is soon revealed that ol' Dracula himself is a racist. When Mamuwalde and Luva attempt to leave the castle, they are swiftly held captive by Dracula's vampire minions. The creepy Count proceeds to bite Mamuwalde and curses him with the flashy vampire name "Blacula". After locking Mamuwalde into a metal coffin, Dracula lets Luva know that her fate is sealed as well, and the two are placed inside a hidden dungeon room, never to be seen again.
In the 1970s, two gay interior decorators visit Count Dracula's castle looking for items they can put in their home. They decide that the eerie old coffin, which was found in the newly discovered secret room, is exactly what they're looking for. They then have it shipped back to Los Angeles. While in their company warehouse, they unlock the ancient coffin unaware of what's inside. One of the men accidentally cuts himself and like clockwork, our fiend Blacula rises from his ancient tomb and seeks out the red stuff he craves so powerfully. Following his menacing attack on the two men, Blacula begins stalking the streets of LA looking for new victims to drain. A local doctor who works with the deceased, Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala) begins investigating the deaths of the two decorators after it is revealed they both have massive blood loss.
Meanwhile, Blacula comes across a young woman named Tina (McGee) who he believes to be the reincarnation of his late wife Luva. Blacula follows Tina to a local club where he introduces himself to she and her friends as the African visitor Mamuwalde (NOTE: Its fun to notice that Blacula's clothing (cape etc) fits in perfectly with the pimp style outfits that were so popular at the time). Mamuwalde swiftly brings Tina into his vampiric clutches and she begins to fall in love with him, but she also doesn't know that while he is a deeply charming and warm man, he has been sporadically sucking the blood of everyone he can sink his pointy teeth into. The bodies drop and turn and soon Blacula's legion of vampires are attacking people left and right. It's then up to Doc Thomas and the police to stop the Black Vampire Prince and restore harmony to the urban streets!
When Blacula was released it was a box office success and immediately followed by a sequel Scream Blacula Scream co-starring Pam Grier. The popularity of the film also inspired several other blaxploitation/horror titles in the mid-seventies, including Abby, Blackenstein, Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde, The Beast Must Die, Ganja & Hess, The House on Skull Mountain, J.D.'s Revenge and Sugar Hill. Rumors circulated that Brides of Blacula and Son of Blacula were to have been made as well.
As a low budget film, Blacula is very entertaining and is a prime example of 70s exploitation filmmaking at its best. William Crain's sharp direction, along with the funky music score by Gene Page, and of course the late William Marshall's memorable lead performance make this film a classic of the Blaxploitation genre. Highly recommended!
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.