Scream Blacula Scream

The Devil Says

See It

(For William Marshall's theatrical vampire)

The success of 1972's Blacula guaranteed a sequel, so the dignified African vampire donned his cape once again to feed off hip cats and screaming bitches. The cast is mainly black, the afros are high, and there's just enough funky music to categorize Scream Blacula Scream as blaxploitation, though it fits more comfortably with the Hammer Horror flicks than with Shaft.

A power struggle in a voodoo cult causes the exceptionally stupid Willis to resurrect Mamuwalde (a.k.a. Blacula).  Mamuwalde, being a class act, doesn't give a damn about Willis's desires, and instead makes him the first of multiple minion vamps before seeking out Lisa, the voodoo priestess, to free him of his curse. Lisa's white boyfriend (OK, his skin is black, but he sure acts white) instantly believes in the undead with almost no proof and teams up with the police to hunt down blood suckers. This is a '70s vampire movie, so the ending is a forgone conclusion.

Scream Blacula Scream looks pretty good for a modestly budgeted monster flick, but from that perspective, it isn't anything special either. It's just the story of another creature of the night going through the motions. Any originality, any kick, had to come from its blaxploitation side, and it is neither black nor exploitative enough. There are no bare breasts, no gore beyond a touch of red paint, no rape, no torture, and no sex. Where are the pushers and the sadistic white racists? It's hard to find a racial slur: "Your uppity black ass" is as good as it gets. At least there are a couple of streetwalkers and pimps, but nothing like what I've come to expect in blaxploitation. Pam Grier (Coffy, Foxy Brown), the queen of the genre, is present, but not as her usual ass-kicking, vengeance-seeking, breast-baring, bad mamma, but as a standard, '70s, meek female in need of rescue.

Without even an attempt to use vampirism as a metaphor for the oppression of blacks, Scream Blacula Scream is nothing more than light-weight horror, but it does have one ace up its sleeve: William Marshall. Suave, with a voice deeper than James Earl Jones's and every bit as melodic, Marshall makes Mamuwalde into a memorable semi-villain. As he did in the the first film, he rises far above the material. His is one of the finest portrayal's of an old-school vampire and he deserves a place at the table right next to Bela Lugosi. Ah, what might have been with a better script, a theme, and sharper direction. Mamuwalde is the real deal, and worth your time even if little else does in Scream Blacula Scream.

Sins (What does this mean?)

Pride Nada.
Sloth Nada.
Avarice Nada.
Gluttony Nada.
Aesthetics Nada. 
Surrogate Cruelty Quite a few bitings, and a cop gets tossed off a balcony. 
Thought Nada, not even insight into the feelings of blacks in the early '70s.
Humor Vampire Willis complaining about not being able to see his face in a mirror is good for a laugh, as is the jive-talkin'.
Lust Some cute babes, but they keep covered.

Buy It


Film Info

Director: Bob Kelljan

Writers: Maurice Jules, Raymond Koenig, Joan Torres

Cast: William Marshall, Don Mitchell, Pam Grier, Michael Conrad, Richard Lawson

Runtime: 96 min