(Proofreader-brained side note: Do you know how hard it is not to put commas in that title every time I write it? Very hard.)
Why Finally?: Once I saw the first movie, there was no way I’d stay away from this one—especially once I found out Pam Grier was the heroine. And I’m a sucker for movie voodoo, even though I know it is to the real religion what exorcism movies and End of Days are to Catholicism.
The Premise: When the head of a voodoo-inclined family dies, two people are candidates for succession: the dying woman chooses her apprentice, Lisa (Grier), instead of her own flesh and blood, and the spurned Willis retaliates by acquiring Blacula’s (weirdly huge) bones and raising him from the dead. Willis is clearly pretty good at spells, but not good at calculating his own life expectancy after he raises a vampire.
Blacula, as Mamuwalde, uses Willis’s big old house as his HQ and infiltrates the surrounding community, meeting Lisa and her (partner? Romantic relationships never seem clearly defined in these movies) Justin. Justin collects African art, including artifacts from Mamuwalde’s past, and the vampire soon begins to see Lisa and her powers as a way to cure his bloodsucking habit and end his torment.
Remember when I complained about ‘Salem’s Lot and how you couldn’t have vampires multiplying at such a rate plausibly? Scream Blacula Scream is actually a bit of a field experiment in this regard: by the end of the movie, most of the secondary characters have been vamped, and there’s a shot of plywood coffin after plywood coffin in Willis’s basement by the end of the film. Just look at this!
The Verdict: Even playing on my pet vampiric peeve, though, the movie is great: the beginning harks back wonderfully to all the times the original Dracula has been raised again from movie to movie, and William Marshall brings his awesome performance to a film with a better budget—Blacula’s even had a cape upgrade! As in the first movie, there’s a genuine struggle to redeem himself that most movie vampires only experience if there’s a love interest in the, er, wings. Absolutely worth watching.
Might go well with: Love At First Bite, Taste the Blood of Dracula, étouffée.