It seems that a lot of people dislike this film due to weak contextual restraints. Superficical gripes towards the actors’ fashions or the homosexual lampooning in the film are myopic at best. This film came out in 1972- before Halloween, before Star Wars, and before the postmodern scare irony of the Scream franchise. It also seems that people do not take into account that this film is from the Black filmic canon, which is important to note when comparing it to other horror films.
Blacula was an early entry into the non-action field of 70’s Black film. Forays in different directions were rare and notable entries few and far between. However, in the Black horror subgenre, Blacula is probably the most notable. It’s a straight up vampire story with some well-conceived twists. The intro depiction of Mamuwalde as an African prince contesting slavery makes for a solid grounding and entry into the modern day. And then it’s clear that AIP spent more than usual to grace this film just by the opening credits. The outstanding montage, with a considerable Saul Bass influence, are striking and instantly memorable. So too is the score, provided by Barry White collaborator Gene Page and his brother. The Hues Corporation contribute what could be one of their best songs, “There He Is Again”, alongside 2 others. The act even sings them live in the movie to the characters ala “Superfly”.
The superb acting and sturdy plot cannot be glossed over. The classically trained William Marshall proves a genteel, suave yet emotional main character. Vonetta McGee is graceful as the beauty easily swayed into Mamuwalde’s charms. And staple actor Thalamus Rasulala’s strength and authority are in full impact here as the skeptical doctor on the case. The plot might not break too many horror conventions, but it doesn’t have to- who would have imagined a Black vampire story in 1962, just 10 years earlier? The love theme in the story provides excellent character development, something that many genre screenwriters skimp on.
A great film for the 70’s and still a worthwhile viewing. Avoid the sequel, where Pam Grier is the only attraction.