skip navigation
Scream Blacula Scream

Scream Blacula Scream(1973)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:
Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (2)

Articles

powered by AFI

SEE ALL ARTICLES
Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

When the blaxploitation classic Blacula made an impression with audiences back in 1972, releasing company American International Pictures jumped at the chance to make a sequel. Almost a year later Scream Blacula Scream (1973) was born. The movie resurrected the modern-day African American version of Dracula and brought him back to once again terrorize the Watts district of Los Angeles, ground zero of urban black culture in the 70's. Screenwriter Raymond Koenig was rehired to pen the Blacula sequel along with Maurice Jules (who had written The Velvet Vampire [1971] a few years earlier). Returning to the project was Shakespearean actor and opera singer William Marshall as Prince Mamuwalde/Blacula. Marshall had commanded the first film with his intense performance and gave a certain gravitas to an otherwise comically named character.

Filmmaker Bob Kelljan, who had just come off directing duties for Count Yorga, Vampire [1970] and The Return of Count Yorga [1971], was brought in behind the camera to replace original Blacula director William Crain. Kelljan had previously been an actor, starring alongside Jack Nicholson in both Hells Angels on Wheels [1967] and Psych-Out [1968]. He also directed the strange incest film Flesh of My Flesh (1969). Legendary cult actress Pam Grier was also brought in to costar opposite Marshall. Having just scored a huge success in the starring role of Coffy (1973), AIP obviously sought to extend her current popularity by bringing her in to play the female lead. In addition, black character actor Richard Lawson was signed up to play the pompous voodoo priest Willis, bringing some comic relief to the proceedings.

Scream Blacula Scream begins with a group of young, African American voodoo practitioners mourning over their deceased leader. An argument erupts after Willis (Lawson) brazenly names himself as the group's new master. When the group goes against the idea he decides to unearth the deceased Blacula as payback. During a ceremony involving Blacula's bones and blood taken from a live bird, our antihero emerges, looking just as dangerously dapper as he did in the first film. Willis's plan backfires, however, and he is quickly made into a Blacula slave.

In the meantime, Lisa (Grier) becomes the new leader of the voodoo sect and soon Blacula sets his sights on her. It's at this point that the sequel takes a different route than the first film; instead of attempting to win back a woman he thought was his long lost love, this time around Blacula wants to reverse the spell that made him a vampire in the first place. Recognizing Lisa as a priestess powerful enough to do just that, Blacula chooses to protect her throughout the film. As Lisa's friends begin to fall prey to Willis's frightening new fangs, LAPD forensic pathologist Justin (Don Mitchell) assumes the Van Helsing role, making an attempt to solve the strange murders while romancing Lisa.

Willis's coven of the undead grows and grows, including his own girlfriend (played by Lynne Moody). He sets his sights on Lisa next but his impetuousness catches up to him after Blacula instructs him and the other vampires not to touch Lisa under any circumstances. Simultaneously, Justin has finally figured out what's going on and departs for the vampires' lair with the police in tow, prepared to take out any and all bloodsuckers. Blacula begs Lisa to perform the voodoo ritual that will turn him back into the Prince he was at the beginning of the first Blacula film when the fuzz arrives. Blacula becomes instantly enraged and turns on Lisa but she uses the voodoo doll from the ceremony to destroy Blacula...or does she?

Despite an open ending that leaves room for another sequel, Scream Blacula Scream makes an entertaining companion to the first Blacula movie. The patently 1970's set design and costuming alone make it an enjoyable film to watch. The annoyingly brash Willis provides most of the comic relief in the film, as he sports his hilarious leisure suit and perfectly coiffed James Brown hairdo. And while Pam Grier is disappointingly underused (and, unfortunately for some, adequately clothed) throughout the movie, the real treat here is Marshall. The actor's sheer presence and powerful performance make him one of the better screen vampires.

Producer: Joseph T. Naar
Director: Bob Kelljan
Screenplay: Maurice Jules, Raymond Koenig, Joan Torres
Cinematography: Isidore Mankofsky
Film Editing: Fabien D. Tordjmann
Art Direction: Alfeo Bocchicchio
Music: Bill Marx
Cast: William Marshall (Mamuwalde/Blacula), Don Mitchell (Justin), Pam Grier (Lisa), Michael Conrad (Sheriff Dunlop), Richard Lawson (Willis), Lynne Moody (Denny).
C-96m. Letterboxed.

by Millie De Chirico

back to top
Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

Composer Bill Marx created the funky soundtracks for Scream Blacula Scream, as well as director Kelljan's Count Yorga films.

Scream Blacula Scream may be the official release title but the movie has also been known as Blacula II, Blacula Is Beautiful, Blacula Lives Again! and The Name Is Blacula.

Goofs: Blacula's reflection is seen in the mirror at Justin's party but according to folklore a vampire's reflection cannot be seen in a mirror.

SOURCES:
That's Blaxploitation! Roots of the Baadasssss 'Tude (Rated X By an All-Whyte Jury) by Darius James
Blacks In American Films and Television by Donald Bogle
Allmovieguide.com
IMDB.com
Blackhorrormovies.com
The New York Times
DVD Talk

back to top
Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

William Marshall (Blacula) trained as a classical actor and performed in Shakespeare plays on stage.

Besides Blacula, Marshall's other most memorable role was "The King of Cartoons" on Pee Wee's Playhouse. He has also appeared in TV episodes of Star Trek and Bonanza.

The London Sunday Times once hailed Marshall as "the best Othello of our time."

Marshall died in Los Angeles, California in 2003 from complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Pam Grier worked as a receptionist at American International Pictures in the late 60's where she was discovered by director Roger Corman.

Grier's first movie was a bit part in Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).

Michael Conrad (Sheriff Dunlop) was best known for his role in television's Hill Street Blues.

by Millie De Chirico

SOURCES:
That's Blaxploitation! Roots of the Baadasssss 'Tude (Rated X By an All-Whyte Jury) by Darius James
Blacks In American Films and Television by Donald Bogle
Allmovieguide.com
IMDB.com
Blackhorrormovies.com
The New York Times
DVD Talk

back to top
Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

"Despite all its blood-letting, Scream Blacula Scream fails for lack of incident, weakness of invention, insufficient story."
Roger Greenspun, "New York Times", July 19th, 1973

"A decent follow up to the original blaxploitation classic..."
blackhorrormovies.com

"...a sometimes amusing, often chilling portrait of vampirism...Marshall, with his authoritative presence and booming, rich voice, creates a sympathetic vampire."
- John Stanley, Creature Features

"This sequel to the successful Blacula [1972] should instead be called Scream, Audience, Scream - and not in terror but boredom....not only anemic but often downright bloodless, too."
- Donald Bogle, Blacks in American Films and Television

"...Grier dispatches Blacula by the novel means of driving a stake into a voodoo doll replica of him. This and a few other moments of invention (the narcissistic Lawson is horrified to find that as a vampire he can no longer admire himself in the mirror) are not enough to offset a prevailing air of threadbare conventionality."
- Phil Hardy, The Encyclopedia of Horror Films

"The results are pretty laughable."
- Michael Weldon, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film

"Adequate follow-up to Blacula lacks much of what made the original so special, substituting instead lots of action and campy humor."
- James O'Neill, Terror on Tape

back to top
Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

Voodoo Party Go-er: "When it comes to voodoo, Lisa has more natural power than anyone in the last ten years!"

Street Pimp: "What's the matter don't you dig girls? Or is that the reason for the cape?"

Blacula: "I'm sorry. I don't have any "bread" with me. And as for "kicking my ass", I strongly recommend that you give it careful consideration before trying."

Police Lieutenant: "I've always considered myself a reasonable man. Now my thinking may be a little prejudice due to race, creed, or color, but then again, none of us are perfect!"

Denny: "Where did you get them teeth?! Take that crap out yo mouth!"

Willis: "Lisa? Who's gonna harm Lisa? I love that bitch!"

back to top
teaser Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

When the blaxploitation classic Blacula made an impression with audiences back in 1972, releasing company American International Pictures jumped at the chance to make a sequel. Almost a year later Scream Blacula Scream (1973) was born. The movie resurrected the modern-day African American version of Dracula and brought him back to once again terrorize the Watts district of Los Angeles, ground zero of urban black culture in the 70's. Screenwriter Raymond Koenig was rehired to pen the Blacula sequel along with Maurice Jules (who had written The Velvet Vampire [1971] a few years earlier). Returning to the project was Shakespearean actor and opera singer William Marshall as Prince Mamuwalde/Blacula. Marshall had commanded the first film with his intense performance and gave a certain gravitas to an otherwise comically named character.

Filmmaker Bob Kelljan, who had just come off directing duties for Count Yorga, Vampire [1970] and The Return of Count Yorga [1971], was brought in behind the camera to replace original Blacula director William Crain. Kelljan had previously been an actor, starring alongside Jack Nicholson in both Hells Angels on Wheels [1967] and Psych-Out [1968]. He also directed the strange incest film Flesh of My Flesh (1969). Legendary cult actress Pam Grier was also brought in to costar opposite Marshall. Having just scored a huge success in the starring role of Coffy (1973), AIP obviously sought to extend her current popularity by bringing her in to play the female lead. In addition, black character actor Richard Lawson was signed up to play the pompous voodoo priest Willis, bringing some comic relief to the proceedings.

Scream Blacula Scream begins with a group of young, African American voodoo practitioners mourning over their deceased leader. An argument erupts after Willis (Lawson) brazenly names himself as the group's new master. When the group goes against the idea he decides to unearth the deceased Blacula as payback. During a ceremony involving Blacula's bones and blood taken from a live bird, our antihero emerges, looking just as dangerously dapper as he did in the first film. Willis's plan backfires, however, and he is quickly made into a Blacula slave.

In the meantime, Lisa (Grier) becomes the new leader of the voodoo sect and soon Blacula sets his sights on her. It's at this point that the sequel takes a different route than the first film; instead of attempting to win back a woman he thought was his long lost love, this time around Blacula wants to reverse the spell that made him a vampire in the first place. Recognizing Lisa as a priestess powerful enough to do just that, Blacula chooses to protect her throughout the film. As Lisa's friends begin to fall prey to Willis's frightening new fangs, LAPD forensic pathologist Justin (Don Mitchell) assumes the Van Helsing role, making an attempt to solve the strange murders while romancing Lisa.

Willis's coven of the undead grows and grows, including his own girlfriend (played by Lynne Moody). He sets his sights on Lisa next but his impetuousness catches up to him after Blacula instructs him and the other vampires not to touch Lisa under any circumstances. Simultaneously, Justin has finally figured out what's going on and departs for the vampires' lair with the police in tow, prepared to take out any and all bloodsuckers. Blacula begs Lisa to perform the voodoo ritual that will turn him back into the Prince he was at the beginning of the first Blacula film when the fuzz arrives. Blacula becomes instantly enraged and turns on Lisa but she uses the voodoo doll from the ceremony to destroy Blacula...or does she?

Despite an open ending that leaves room for another sequel, Scream Blacula Scream makes an entertaining companion to the first Blacula movie. The patently 1970's set design and costuming alone make it an enjoyable film to watch. The annoyingly brash Willis provides most of the comic relief in the film, as he sports his hilarious leisure suit and perfectly coiffed James Brown hairdo. And while Pam Grier is disappointingly underused (and, unfortunately for some, adequately clothed) throughout the movie, the real treat here is Marshall. The actor's sheer presence and powerful performance make him one of the better screen vampires.

Producer: Joseph T. Naar
Director: Bob Kelljan
Screenplay: Maurice Jules, Raymond Koenig, Joan Torres
Cinematography: Isidore Mankofsky
Film Editing: Fabien D. Tordjmann
Art Direction: Alfeo Bocchicchio
Music: Bill Marx
Cast: William Marshall (Mamuwalde/Blacula), Don Mitchell (Justin), Pam Grier (Lisa), Michael Conrad (Sheriff Dunlop), Richard Lawson (Willis), Lynne Moody (Denny).
C-96m. Letterboxed.

by Millie De Chirico

back to top
teaser Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

The "blaxploitation" films of the 1970s--the term referred to exploitation films featuring African-American heroes and anti-heroes--leaned heavily on urban crime dramas and gangster movies but soon reached out to other genres, including westerns and horror films. The first and most successful of these was Blacula (1972), produced by American International Pictures and starring William Marshall as an African Prince transformed into a vampire by Count Dracula. It touched on the legacy of slavery and offered a different kind of African-American anti-hero, cursed by vampirism and bloodlust yet devoted to the rights of black men and women, and it was a hit, grossing over $1 million on its domestic run. A sequel was inevitable so Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig, who wrote the original Blacula (with uncredited assistance by Marshall), resurrected the dead bones of Marshall's Prince Mamuwalde with a voodoo spell for Scream Blacula Scream (1973).

Marshall was a respected stage veteran who had appeared in only a few movies, playing a gladiator in Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) and attorney general in The Boston Strangler (1968), and TV shows, before making the original Blacula. He's best known to audiences today as computer scientist Dr. Richard Daystrom in the episode "The Ultimate Computer" of the original Star Trek. His Shakespearean poise and deep, dignified speaking voice brings gravitas to the role of Mamuwalde, much as Vincent Price did for Roger Corman's Poe films, and he creates a vampire that is more victim than villain, cursed by the bite that transforms him into a predator. But he also contributed key ideas to the script that became essential elements of its success, including making his character an African prince. "The producers were not particularly interested in any concept of African people at that time, or with that aura surrounding the figure," he explained in an interview with David Walker. "I rather insisted. I felt that this would be the selling point, particularly for young African American men and women."

Set in a culture of African American academics and modern voodoo cults in 1970s Los Angeles, the sequel co-stars Pam Grier as a respected voodoo priestess and Don Mitchell as a former police detective turned African scholar and historian. Grier was on her way to becoming a blaxploitation star, having worked her way up from gratuitously exploitative women-in-prison potboilers like The Big Doll House (1971) to the starring role in Coffy (1973), when she was cast. Mitchell was arguably an even bigger star at the time, having played Officer Mark Sanger in the hit TV series Ironside since 1967. Michael Conrad, a veteran character actor who would go on to fame as the paternal Sgt. Phil Esterhaus in Hill Street Blues, co-stars as Mitchell's former colleague, an old-school detective understandably reluctant to accept that vampires are invading his town.

Bob Kelljan, director of AIP's two Count Yorga films, took the reins from Blacula director William Crain and helped give it a more serious tone than the title might suggest. Scream Blacula Scream was reportedly chosen over such possible titles as Blacula Is Beautiful and Blacula Lives Again in a contest among AIP employees. Reviews were mixed but the performances strong (Roger Ebert wrote that actors Marshall and Grier "both have a lot of style; so much, indeed, that it stands out in this routine movie") and the film was another hit for AIP. Though the climax left an opening for another sequel, there was no follow-up. Perhaps AIP was wary of a market increasingly overcrowded with films like Blackenstein (1973) and Abby (1974, an Exorcist knock-off). For whatever reason, it was the final film to feature the great, underrated William Marshall in a leading role.

Sources:
Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, Pam Grier with Andrea Cagan. Springboard, 2010.
Horror Films of the 1970s, John Kenneth Muir. McFarland and Company, 2002.
Blaxploitation Films of the 1970s: Blackness and Genre, Novotny Lawrence. Routledge, 2008.
Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between, Gary A. Smith. McFarland and Company, 2017.
Reflections on Blaxploitation, ed. David Walker, Andrew J. Rausch, Chris Watson. Scarecrow Press, 2009.
"The Dracula and the Blacula Cultural Revolution," Paul R. Lehman and John Edgar Browning, essay in Draculas, Vampires, and Other Undead Forms: Essays on Gender, Race and Culture, edited by John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan "Kay" Picart. Scarecrow Press, 2009.

By Sean Axmaker

back to top