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Although released under MGM’s Soul Cinema label, BLACULA ($15) and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! ($15) are a such a complete mixture of blaxploitation and horror, that they could have just as easily debuted under MGM’s Midnite Movies banner. Since I am a fan of both genres, I have been eagerly anticipating this pair of flicks making their DVD debuts for quite some time. Additionally, the "political correctness" that has sprung up in the intervening thirty years since BLACULA and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! were made has given each an unintentionally amusing quality that makes them even more fun to watch than ever before. Of course, BLACULA and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! still maintain their ability to chill audiences, thanks to the presence of leading man William Marshall. Marshall, a classically trained thespian, whose booming voice and acting charisma that made him unforgettable as the title character of both films. Had it not been for William Marshall, I am not sure if either of these films would be as well remembered today.

The plot of BLACULA finds African Prince Manuwalde (Marshall) falling victim to Dracula and re-christened with a bastardized version of the vampire Count’s name. After being imprisoned in a casket in Castle Dracula for two centuries, Blacula is set free is Los Angeles by the pair of interior decorators who purchased the contents of the castle, while in Europe. After sating his bloodlust, Blacula encounters Tina (Vonetta McGee), a beautiful young woman who is the reincarnation of his dead wife Luva. As Manuwalde, Blacula hopes to win Tina’s love and have her willingly become his vampire bride for all eternity. The cast of BLACULA also features Denise Nicholas, Thalmus Rasulala, Gordon Pinsent, Charles Macaulay, Emily Yancy, Lance Taylor Sr., Ted Harris, Rick Metzler, Ketty Lester and Elisha Cook Jr.

SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! finds Blacula resurrected at the hands of a voodoo priest hoping to use the vampire as an instrument of revenge against those who wronged him. However, instead of becoming a lackey, Blacula puts the bite on his would be voodoo master, which begins a new cycle of undead rising up in Los Angeles. Of course, still residing within Blacula is the tormented Manuwalde, who wants to end the eternal loneliness of his vampire existence. So Manuwalde seeks out powerful voodoo priestess Lisa (Pam Grier) to exercise the vampire from his being. While the presence of William Marshall makes SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! an enjoyable horror outing, fans of Pam Grier may be disappointed to discover that her character is little more than attractive set dressing in this sequel. In addition to its two stars, the cast of SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! also includes Michael Conrad, Richard Lawson, Lynne Moody, Janee Michelle and Barbara Rhoades.

MGM Home Entertainment has made BLACULA and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentations that have been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Both films look quite good for low budget blaxploitation fare, with BLACULA having a slight edge on its sequel. Some softer shots show up in each film, but for the most part the transfers produce reasonable sharp, nicely defined images. Colors are fairly well saturated and appear solid, without overt fuzziness. Blacks are pretty inky and the whites are crisp. Contrast is respectable, although shadow detail can be truncated in places. The film elements for both movies have aged reasonably well, with only minor blemishes being apparent. Film grain creeps up in each film, but isn’t too bad. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks are respectable for three-decade-old movies. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process. Dialogue is always completely understandable, while William Marshall’s voice maintains its powerful presence. The funky soul music featured on each soundtrack sounds just fine. No other language tracks are included, although English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as each film’s theatrical trailer on their respective individual DVD.

Both BLACULA and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM! are a hoot and belong in every genre fan’s blaxploitation/horror libraries. MGM has done a good job with both of these DVDs, giving each film the finest looking presentation that it has ever had. If you are a fan, then you are going to want to own copies of BLACULA and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM!.




Blacula (1972)

Scream, Blacula, Scream! (1973)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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