Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Scream Blacula Scream

Some months back I did a blog post on Blacula. The movie was successful enough that, despite the apparent death of Blacula in the movie, American International put a remake into production. The result is Scream Blacula Scream.

The movie starts off not with Blacula, but with the death of the matriarch of a group of voodoo practitioners. Mama Loa is dying, and the people around her are arguing over who should be the next head of the group. Her son Willis (Richard Conrad) suggests it should be him since he was her son after all. But apparently the head has to declare a successor, or else the matter is put up to a vote. Everybody clearly has something (never really mentioned) against Willis, and they'd like Lisa (Pam Greer) to be the next leader. She seems to have a much better knack for voodoo anyway.

Willis, suitably ticked off, is given a bunch of sacred bones that are supposed to hold the secret of a powerful voodoo curse, which is just what Willis needs to get the leadership of the group. The only problem is the he doesn't really understand what he's doing, and what the result of the curse is going to be. The curse awakens Blacula (William Marshall reprising his role from the first movie) from the dead (or is that the undead?), and Blacula is even more pissed about that than Willis was about getting passed over for the voodoo sect's leadership. Hell hath no fury like a vampire scorned, and Blacula responds to his raising by biting Willis and turning him into a vampire.

Blacula has that insatiable desire for human blood, which results in his turning a bunch of people into vampires. But he also chances upon a party where a local professor has some African artifacts. Remember from the first Blacula movie that Blacula was really Prince Mamuwalde 200 years earlier, so he knows those artifacts intimately. It's there that he meets Lisa and learns about her aptitude for voodoo. It's here that Blacula gets a startling idea: perhaps he can use voodoo to remove the vampire curse!

Meanwhile, there are dead bodies mounting up, and the police are investigating, along with Lisa's boyfriend Justin (Don Mitchell), who used to be a police detective. He's the one who figures out that it must be a vampire doing the killings, but unsurprisingly, he's unable to get anybody to believe him. Will Blacula be able to go through the voodoo ritual, or will the police get to him first? And what about all those other vampires?

Scream Blacula Scream is about as intelligent as you can expect from a vampire movie. This isn't to say that vampire movies are necessarily bad, but come on, they are vampire movies. Some large suspension of disbelief is required. Still, in both this and Blacula, the whole plot strand of trying to get people to believe there's a vampire is handled well. There's also a rather humorous scene when Willis first realizes he's a vampire. The whole mixing of voodoo and vampirism is something that, for a blaxploitation movie, also makes logical sense.

I didn't find Scream Blacula Scream to be particularly high in the horror area, but much more good-natured fun. Some people may find that a flaw, but I didn't. In fact, I think it made the movie better in my eyes. It, along with the original Blacula is just a rollicking fun ride.

The two movies are available together on both DVD and Blu-ray.

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