Blacula has become synonymous with black horror, and with good reason. It was not only one of the earliest and most successful movies in the influential “Blaxploitation” era, but it’s also a pretty darn good film. Budgetary limitations and ’70s-era fashion aside, it’s well-acted and atmospheric with a few genuinely creepy moments. Judging by the title, you’d guess that any enjoyment derived here would be campy (I suppose the filmmakers couldn’t resist the punny title; Mamuwalde isn’t quite so catchy.), but it’s played remarkably straight, and the booming presence that is William Marshall sells it for all it’s worth.
Mamuwalde (Marshall) is an 18th-Century African prince who travels to Transylvania to ask Count Dracula if he would mind not enslaving his people…pretty please? Dracula, being the bastard he is, sucks his blood and kills his wife (Vonetta McGee). Fast-forward 200 years, and for some reason, there’s a yard sale at Dracula’s castle. Two (unfortunately flaming) Los Angeles interior decorators scoop up Mamuwalde’s coffin, bring it back to the US, and it’s on! As is now the standard in century-spanning gothic horror, Mamuwalde just happens to come across Tina, who looks exactly like his dead wife. Heartbreak and polyester ensue.