After hearing so many good things about Blacula I just had to see it. And it’s splendid fun! William Marshall isn’t just good; he’s one of the classic screen vampires. Having a classically trained actor play the role of the black vampire, and having him play it straight, was a slightly surprising choice but it worked superbly. Actually the acting in general was pretty good for an exploitation flick. In common with the other blaxploitation movies I’ve seen recently it really didn’t strike me as being racist.
The movie starts with an African prince in Europe in the 18th century, trying to drum up support for a campaign against slavery. He encounters Count Dracula, and is transformed into a vampire and cursed by the count. Two hundred years later a couple of gay interior decorators (with the kind of gay stereotyping you’d never get away with these days) buy up the estate of a deceased European nobleman. The estate includes a coffin, and once they get it back to Los Angeles they decide to open it (these guys have never seen a horror movie so they don’t realise what a bad idea this is likely to be) and Blacula is unleashed on the streets of LA. Having Blacula as a cultured aristocrat himself, rather than an urban street hipster, works extremely well. The whole movie is played pretty straight, and it works as a highly entertaining vampire movie. Plus you get some groovy 70 threads, and some outrageous early 70s music and dancing - what more could you want?