Friday, October 26, 2007

Blacula


(1972) ***1/2

As I waited for Running Freak near the aid station during her freakishly long 50 mile trail run, I had one of those moments of enormous perspective. It’s a flawless, sunny day. I’m sitting on a hillside with a breathtaking view of San Francisco (is there any other kind?) and I’m watching a pristine, digitally remastered version of Blacula on my IPOD. I love the human race and everything we’ve accomplished. Dolphins? Pfft. Intelligent, my ass.

I’ve always been curious about Blacula but never felt comfortable renting it as common sense dictates that everything about it is so very, very offensive. Now that I no longer get offended by anything (aside from the occasional condescending mock Barnie review), I decided that it was time to give it a proper looksie.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Count Dracula has Prince Mamuwalde and his wife over for dinner. Some grossly inappropriate comments defending slavery reveal that in addition to being a remorseless killer, Dracula was also a racist ass. Disgusted with the distasteful words, Mamuwalde gets his coat only to be confronted by a group of thugs. After a brief torch fight, Dracula bites him the neck and declares “I shall curse you! You will become Blacula!” Cue the funky awesome theme music.

Next we’re introduced to an interracial gay couple vacationing in present day Transylvania. They purchase a host of Dracula memorabilia including a coffin. When they open the coffin back in the states, Blacula pops out and immediately has a bite. A quick flashback voiceover repeats “I shall curse you! You will become Blacula!” The reminder was a nice gesture and but entirely unnecessary as Blacula is the title of the movie and those words were spoken less than 5 minutes ago.

Blacula becomes a respected member of the community and falls in love with Tina, a woman who has a striking resemblance to his deceased wife. (It was the same actress.) They make sweet, tender love and he soon shares his dark secret with her. While his reign of terror continues to create more and more vampires, he loves Tina too much to drink her blood. Awwww. Tina then has to decide what is more important – the fate of mankind or her sexy, powerful yet soft and gentle vampire lover man.

Blacula goes down smooth, like the cold beer that was in my hand as I viewed it. 1970’s Blaxploitation films are often criticized for conforming to racial stereotypes but compared to say, a 3 minute 50 Cent video, this movie is about as offensive as a Partridge Family episode. (If anything, it’s insulting to the gay community.) Also, despite the campy sounding title, this is not a comedy by any means. It deserves to be taken as seriously as any other 70’s vampire movie.

3 comments:

AC said...

great review, johnny, and congratulations to running freak!

DCD said...

I am also very impressed with Running Freak.

Now that is how to watch a movie JSP! Great review, very insightful.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

By the way, the guy who played Blacula also played the King of Cartoons on Pee Wee's Playhouse. What a resume!