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Review by Troy
= Highest Rating
Willis (Richard Lawson) is passed over as the new head of a
voodoo sect, he swears revenge. To that end he obtains the bones
and ashes of Prince Mamuwalde, AKA "Blacula" (William
Marshall), whom he brings back to (un)life. The vampire transforms
Willis into his servant and then sets his eyes on Lisa (Pam
Grier), a powerful voodoo priestess who possesses the power
to release him from his suffering...
The box office success of Blacula
in 1972 inevitably led to a sequel. While most sequels invariably
pale in comparison to their predecessors, Scream,
Blacula, Scream is pretty much in the same class as the
original. Though more stylishly shot and directed than the first
one (thanks to the participation of Bob Kelljan, who helmed
the equally fine Count Yorga films), it lacks the same sense
of freshness and urgency that made the original so effective.
In the long run, both films offer plenty of camp enjoyment and
some genuine scares
and remain at the top of the list of 'modernized' vampire films
of the period (Hammer was far less successful in its attempts
to 'mod' Dracula in Dracula A.D.
1972 and The Satanic Rites of
Key to their success is distinguished Shakespearean
actor William Marshall (called "the best Othello of our time"
by at least one critic, and known to pop culture enthusiasts
for his appearances on Star Trek, Maverick and
Pee Wee's Playhouse). Marshall plays the potentially
ludicrous role with such conviction and sincerity that he literally
lifts them out of the blaxploitation gutter. Few elements in
either film match his brilliance, but that they survive is a
solid testimony to his indelible characterization. Marshall
is one of the few screen vampires to elicit genuine pathos and
his transformation from cultured, dignified statesman to feral
vampire being so utterly convincing and complete.
Among the supporting cast, Pam Grier, of
course, has the most name value
but it's not one of her stronger roles, even if she ultimately
puts Blacula under for good. Those expecting an ass-kicking,
'fro-bopping heroine a la Coffy may
be disappointed. Michael Conrad, best known for his recurring
role on Hill Street Blues, plays the obligatory dumb
As mentioned earlier, Scream,
Blacula, Scream is a far better crafted film than the
original, actually offering up some moody moments as well as
some genuinely funny ones (Willis throwing a fit, for instance,
when he finds that he can no longer see his reflection in a
mirror). Composer Bill Marx offers up a soundtrack full of funk
that reminds one of the Count Yorga films
no surprise, since he scored them both for director Kelljan.
A laughably inappropriate end title song spoils an otherwise
solid finale, and one wishes the film would have performed better
so that we could have seen a third entry.
presentation of Scream, Blacula, Scream
is every bit as stellar as their release of the first film. The
anamorphic 1.85 transfer looks terrific, with only some minor
print damage typical of a '70s exploitation item. The mono soundtrack
is solid and does equal justice to the dialogue and score. Extras
are limited to an appropriately funky theatrical trailer. 1/29/04
This DVD (and that of the original Blacula)
went OOP in 2008. On September 1, 2009 MGM is reissuing the discs
in a nicely priced Soul Cinema "two-fer" set,
in tandem with a number of blaxploitation titles.