DirectorWilliam Crain/Bob Kelljan
Release Date(s)1972/1973 (March 3, 2015)
Studio(s)American International Pictures/Orion Pictures/MGM/20th Century Fox (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: C-
- Overall Grade: B
Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream were released in 1972 and 1973, respectively, and began the trend of taking classic horror movie characters and putting a black spin on them. Others came and went, but these two movies in particular were remembered better than the rest. Directed by William Crain and Bob Kelljan, Blacula tells the story of the titular African prince (William Marshall) who is cursed by Dracula himself into being a vampire and awoken many years later, enlisting more vampires along the way while searching for his new bride. The story continues in Scream Blacula Scream, in which he resumes his plan, this time happening upon a voodoo priestess (Pam Grier).
While receiving only mixed reviews upon its initial release, Blacula garnered an enthusiastic response from audiences and was a big money maker for American International Pictures. Much of the success was due to the charisma and dignity found within William Marshall’s performance. He seemed to be giving it his all and taking the work seriously, despite other performances around him ranging from good to terrible. Unfortunately, Scream Blacula Scream didn’t do quite as well as by comparison, receiving lesser reviews and a lower box office return, so no further entries in the series were produced. While both movies aren’t particularly well made, their cult status today is mostly due to the camp factor found within them. Like a lot of movies from this period, they hearken back to a time when even off-beat ideas could turn a healthy profit.
Scream Factory’s double feature Blu-ray of the two movies features a couple of good transfers. For Blacula, there’s some nicely-rendered grain, a little splotchy at times, but with some decent detailing and texturing. Colors are strong, contrast is deep, and brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. There isn’t much film damage leftover to speak of either, other than some speckling and occasional lines. Scream Blacula Scream is a little stronger and more even in the grain and detail department, but not much different otherwise. Both films feature soundtracks in English 2.0 DTS-HD. They’re center-centric presentations with mostly clear dialogue (although a tad distorted), and have strong scores and some decent sound effects. While Blacula tends to show its age and doesn’t offer much in terms of spatial or low end activity, Scream Blacula Scream is a little bit stronger with some surprisingly subtle low end moments. Subtitles are included in English SDH for those who might need them. Extras include an audio commentary on Blacula with David F. Walker and an Interview with the Vampire’s Assistant: Richard Lawson for Scream Blacula Scream. In addition, there are still galleries and theatrical trailers for both movies.
BLACULA FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO: B-/B-/B-
SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO: C+/B/B
Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream are interesting artifacts in the blaxploitation genre and, funnily enough, two of the better movies to came out of it. They’re not works of art by any means, but they’re entertaining and much more interesting and engaging than most people give them credit for. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is also the best way to revisit them, so do check it out.
- Tim Salmons