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HISTORY

       Although a title card prior to the film's prologue lists the year as 1780, Filmfacts and several reviews describe the film’s initial segment as being set in 1815. This is possibly due to the fact that publicity material for Blacula , found in the AMPAS Library production file on the film, listed 1815. Although only Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig were listed in the onscreen credits as screenwriters for the film, HR production charts additionally list Richard Glouner. Blacula was shot on location in Los Angeles, CA, with some scenes shot in Watts and the final scenes taken at the Hyperion Outfall Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey, CA, according to contemporary sources.
       A 9 Sep 1972 LAT article stated that star William Marshall, a classically trained Shakespearean actor renowned for his portrayal of "Othello," received some critical press notices for starring in a black exploitation film. When, according to the article, Beverly Hills-Hollywood branch NAACP president Julius Griffin supported Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn's proposed portrayal of black Haitian hero King Christophe and called Marshall's portrayal of "Blacula" demeaning, his constituency forced him to resign. Despite these disputes, Blacula , the first black vampire movie, quickly gained popularity and became a box-office success. In 1972 William Marshall was given an award for his performance in Blacula by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films (originally known as The Count Dracula Society).
       Blacula marked the feature film debut for director William Crain, who began his career directing the television series The Mod Squad . The film also marked the debut of ... More Less

       Although a title card prior to the film's prologue lists the year as 1780, Filmfacts and several reviews describe the film’s initial segment as being set in 1815. This is possibly due to the fact that publicity material for Blacula , found in the AMPAS Library production file on the film, listed 1815. Although only Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig were listed in the onscreen credits as screenwriters for the film, HR production charts additionally list Richard Glouner. Blacula was shot on location in Los Angeles, CA, with some scenes shot in Watts and the final scenes taken at the Hyperion Outfall Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey, CA, according to contemporary sources.
       A 9 Sep 1972 LAT article stated that star William Marshall, a classically trained Shakespearean actor renowned for his portrayal of "Othello," received some critical press notices for starring in a black exploitation film. When, according to the article, Beverly Hills-Hollywood branch NAACP president Julius Griffin supported Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn's proposed portrayal of black Haitian hero King Christophe and called Marshall's portrayal of "Blacula" demeaning, his constituency forced him to resign. Despite these disputes, Blacula , the first black vampire movie, quickly gained popularity and became a box-office success. In 1972 William Marshall was given an award for his performance in Blacula by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films (originally known as The Count Dracula Society).
       Blacula marked the feature film debut for director William Crain, who began his career directing the television series The Mod Squad . The film also marked the debut of prolific television actress Denise Nicholas. HR production charts add Ron Pennington and George Fisher to the cast. Marshall also starred in American International Pictures' 1973 sequel, Scream Blacula Scream , also produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff. For more information about films inspired by the character "Dracula," created by Bram Stoker, see the entry above for the 1931 Universal production Dracula . More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Aug 1972
p. 4512.
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1972.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 1973.
---
Esquire
Nov 1972.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 265-67.
Films and Filming
Nov 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 1972
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1972
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1972
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 1972
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 1972.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
19 Oct 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Oct 1972.
---
Motion Picture Herald
19 Sep 1972.
---
New York Times
26 Aug 1972
p. 15.
San Francisco Chronicle
16 Aug 1972.
---
Variety
2 Aug 1972
p. 18.
Variety
16 Aug 1972.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod supv
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Key grip
Stillman
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward man
Ward woman
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opticals by
Eff ed
Title des by
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Post prod mgr
Cars furnished by
Scr supv
Pub man
Transportation capt
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by characters created by Bram Stoker.
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"What the World Knows," "There He Is Again" and "I'm Gonna Get You," music and lyrics by Wally Holmes, produced by Wally Holmes and Norman Ratner, performed by The Hues Corporation.
SONGS
"Main Chance," music and lyrics by Billy Page and Gene Page, performed by 21st Century Limited.
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1972
Production Date:
late January--late March 1972
Copyright Claimant:
American International Productions
Copyright Date:
26 July 1972
Copyright Number:
LP42032
Physical Properties:
Sound
Ryder Sound Services, Inc.
Color
Movielab
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23355
SYNOPSIS

In 1780, at Count Dracula's Transylvanian castle, African prince Mamuwalde and his wife Luva ask the count to sign a petition abolishing slavery, but the count scoffs at the suggestion. He instead condemns Mamuwalde to eternal life as an undead, a vampire like himself, naming him “Blacula.” Sealing the coffin, Dracula leaves Luva to die in the dungeon with her husband’s coffin. Over 190 years later, flamboyant interior decorators Bobby McCoy and Billy, charmed by the gothic allure of the count's deserted mansion, buy the entire contents, including the coffin, and ship everything to New York City. Unlocking the coffin at their New York warehouse, both men are then bitten and killed by the blood-starved Mamuwalde. After the dead men’s bodies are discovered by the police and taken to separate funeral homes, sisters Tina and Michelle and Michelle’s fiancé, police pathologist Dr. Gordon Thomas, pay their respects to their friend Bobby. Gordon becomes suspicious when he sees the two bites on the dead man’s neck and notes the absence of any blood in the body, despite mortician Swenson’s claim that the body was not drained or embalmed. On the street that night, Mamuwalde sees Tina and chases the terrified woman, but is struck down by a passing cab. Unscathed but infuriated that he has lost Tina’s trail, Mamuwalde bites and kills cabbie Juanita Jones and, after finding Tina’s purse, rests in his coffin to avoid the coming dawn. Back at the police station, Gordon discovers that Bobby’s autopsy report is missing and requests that his supervisor, Lt. Jack Peters, authorize another. That night, Gordon, Tina and Michelle are celebrating the latter’s birthday at the Ethiopia Club when Mamuwalde enters ... +


In 1780, at Count Dracula's Transylvanian castle, African prince Mamuwalde and his wife Luva ask the count to sign a petition abolishing slavery, but the count scoffs at the suggestion. He instead condemns Mamuwalde to eternal life as an undead, a vampire like himself, naming him “Blacula.” Sealing the coffin, Dracula leaves Luva to die in the dungeon with her husband’s coffin. Over 190 years later, flamboyant interior decorators Bobby McCoy and Billy, charmed by the gothic allure of the count's deserted mansion, buy the entire contents, including the coffin, and ship everything to New York City. Unlocking the coffin at their New York warehouse, both men are then bitten and killed by the blood-starved Mamuwalde. After the dead men’s bodies are discovered by the police and taken to separate funeral homes, sisters Tina and Michelle and Michelle’s fiancé, police pathologist Dr. Gordon Thomas, pay their respects to their friend Bobby. Gordon becomes suspicious when he sees the two bites on the dead man’s neck and notes the absence of any blood in the body, despite mortician Swenson’s claim that the body was not drained or embalmed. On the street that night, Mamuwalde sees Tina and chases the terrified woman, but is struck down by a passing cab. Unscathed but infuriated that he has lost Tina’s trail, Mamuwalde bites and kills cabbie Juanita Jones and, after finding Tina’s purse, rests in his coffin to avoid the coming dawn. Back at the police station, Gordon discovers that Bobby’s autopsy report is missing and requests that his supervisor, Lt. Jack Peters, authorize another. That night, Gordon, Tina and Michelle are celebrating the latter’s birthday at the Ethiopia Club when Mamuwalde enters and returns Tina’s purse. After apologizing to the young woman, Mamuwalde explains that Tina’s resemblance to his deceased wife compelled him to follow her. Inexplicably attracted to the commanding gentleman in his eighteenth century cape and suit, Tina invites him to their table, despite club flirt Skillet’s opinion that their new friend is “one strange dude.” When club photographer Nancy snaps a photograph of him and Tina, Mamuwalde, knowing that a vampire's image cannot be reproduced on film, abruptly leaves. Following Nancy as she leaves the club, Mamuwalde enters her home darkroom and kills her with one bite, then destroys the print she has just made of Tina hugging his absent figure. Meanwhile, Gordon begins to suspect that the string of killings might be the work of a vampire. After reading about the undead and learning that Bobby’s body is missing, Gordon requests that the police exhume Billy’s body for an autopsy, but his request is denied. Gordon and Michelle then spend the night digging up Billy’s grave. When the shovel hits the lid of the coffin, Billy’s dead body erupts from the coffin and hungrily attacks Gordon for his blood, but Gordon beats him back with his shovel, then stabs him in the heart with a wooden stake. Realizing that he must convince Peters of the strange and unbelievable vampire epidemic, Gordon calls coroner’s assistant Sam to pull Juanita’s body out of the deep freeze to thaw. Knowing she will awaken thirsty for blood, Gordon orders Sam to lock the body in the viewing room, but the distracted man forgets. Meanwhile, at Tina’s apartment, Mamuwalde finally reveals his real identity and what happened to him 300 years ago. Far from fearful, Tina is drawn closer to Mamuwalde and, although unwilling to become a vampire herself, makes love to him. Just before dawn, Gordon enters the morgue, accompanied by Peters, to find a voracious Juanita invigorated by Sam’s blood. Using a silver cross, Gordon forces Juanita to the window, where the rising sun instantly kills the vampire. Gordon and Peter then put out an all points bulletin for Bobby and Billy, hoping to stop the number of vampires from multiplying. Later that night, at the club, when Michelle and Gordon question him about vampires, Mamuwalde shares his reverence for the occult and then leaves abruptly with Tina. Learning that Nancy is missing, Gordon goes to her apartment and finds the negative of the photograph Mamuwalde had destroyed earlier. Their suspicions about Mamuwalde’s real identity confirmed, Gordon and Michelle rush to Tina’s apartment, where Gordon punches Mamuwalde, who narrowly escapes police capture. Deducing that the warehouse where the first murders took place is the vampires’ daytime resting place, Gordon and Peters break in with several police officers, but are soon surrounded by many vampires, all lusting for blood. After officer Johnson is bitten and instantly turns into one of the creatures, Gordon and Peters set the building on fire, burning the vampires, then stab Johnson with a wooden stake to end his tortured life. Turning to flee, Gordon and Peters are confronted by Mamuwalde, who tells them that Tina’s life means more to him than his own, then turns into a bat and flies away. Although Tina’s building is surrounded by police for protection, Mamuwalde uses his telepathic powers to lure her out of the apartment and guide her to a huge underground factory complex. Having spotted Tina, Gordon, Peters and the police rush into the maze of hallways, but Mamuwalde begins to kill the officers one by one. When one officer mistakenly shoots and mortally wounds Tina, the heartbroken and vengeful Mamuwalde yells into the bowels of the factory that no one will escape alive. Knowing he must save her from mortal death, Mamuwalde plunges his teeth into Tina’s neck, transforming her into a vampire. Only minutes later, Gordon and Peters find Mamuwalde’s coffin and, assuming that they have found the creature, plunge a stake into the body inside, only to discover Tina, who screeches wildly and dies. Unable to endure life without Tina, Mamuwalde walks up the stairwell into the blinding daylight, where he instantly dies, his body turning into a rotting skeleton. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.