By Stacey Longo
Billed as a Pam Grier vehicle, Scream Blacula Scream (1973) probably had no intention of being as preposterous as it was. The story revolves around Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall), also known as Blacula himself, revived from the dead by Willis Daniels (Richard Lawson), via voodoo magic. Blacula repays the favor by immediately turning Willis into a vampire and setting about his true agenda: finding a woman to fall in love with, antagonizing the cops, and making a whole bunch more vampires. He raises the suspicions of local ex-police officer Justin Carter (Don Mitchell), who ultimately hunts down and (spoiler alert!) with the help of voodoo princess Lisa Fortier (the aforementioned Grier), kills Blacula.
What makes this movie a trashterpiece is it’s unintentional hilarity, mostly due to the dated “jive talk” and the tendency, apparently, for African-American vampires to grow an unruly mass of hair on their face once they turn. Blacula sports two lightning-bolt sideburns that slash across his cheeks when he’s hunting; his apprentice, Willis, sprouts eyebrows resembling two wooly caterpillars mating in a briar patch. With references to ‘bread,’ ‘rags,’ and ‘dudes,’ the slang is dated and entertaining.
Grier is underutilized for the first twenty minutes or so, but hang in there: when she finally gets into the action, you’ll remember why she gets so much respect. She’s smokin’ hot and coolly confident. Yet she loses credibility points when she doesn’t recognize Blacula as Professor Mamuwalde at first, which is ridiculous. The only difference in his appearance is the rabid facial hair and a new, super-groovy black cape. Luckily for her, Blacula is immediately smitten, and he puts her under his protection against his rapidly growing clan of bloodsuckers.
Unfortunately for Blacula, Grier’s Lisa is already dating Justin Carter, and he doesn’t like the latest turn of events. However, a lousier shot with a crossbow you’ve never seen, and it’s up to Lisa to save the day.
Noteworthy in this flick, besides Ms. Grier, is William Marshall in the title role. His larger-than-life presence and baritone voice commands attention, and you’ll cheer when he announces not once, but twice: “The name is Blaa-cu-laa!” In a sea of porn mustaches and fabulous afros, Scream Blacula Scream is absolutely worth viewing. You dig?