Blacula (1972)

William Crane mostly worked in TV, but we always will have him to thank for directing the first African-American vampire movie (and the first Jekyll and Hyde movie for a black audience, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde).

Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) represents the Nigerian Ibani African nation as they ask Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to help stop slavery. Instead, Dracula laughs in his face and tells him he’s going to enslave the proud black man’s wife Luva (Vonetta McGee, The Great Silence). Mamuwalde is bitten, turned into a vampire, cursed with the name Blacula and imprisoned in a coffin as his wife dies beside him.

Two centuries or so in the future, interior decorators Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schaffer (Rick Metzler) buy Blacula’s coffin at an auction, opening it and unleashing his thirst on the world.

At Bobby’s funeral, Blacula finds Tina Williams (McGee), who looks exactly like his dead wife. As the vampire kills and turns people, he also begins to convince his wife’s reincarnation that they must spend the rest of eternity together. Blacula is a romantic and that — along with his dignity — makes him a vampire who stands the test of time.

Crane worked hard to keep the movie as authentic to the black experience as possible, changing Blacula’s name from Andrew Brown to Mamuwalde and the unique concept of him being an African prince before he got his fangs.

I’m all for this movie. They should have made ten sequels.

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