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Original 1972 theatrical poster
Directed by William Crain
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff
Joseph T. Naar
Norman T. Herman
Written by Raymond Koenig
Joan Torres
Starring William Marshall
Vonetta McGee
Denise Nicholas
Gordon Pinsent
Charles Macaulay
Thalmus Rasulala
Music by Gene Page
Cinematography John M. Stephens
Editing by Allan Jacobs
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release date(s) August 25, 1972 (USA)
Running time 93 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Followed by Scream Blacula Scream

Blacula is a 1972 blaxploitation horror film produced for American International Pictures. It was directed by William Crain and stars William Marshall in the title role. Blacula was the first film to win the "Best Horror Film" award at the 1972 Saturn Awards.

A sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, was released in 1973, in which Marshall reprised his role.



In 1780, Prince Mamuwalde (Marshall), the ruler of an African nation, seeks the help of Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) in suppressing the slave trade. Dracula, who along with his other evils is revealed as a racist, not only refuses to help but also transforms Mamuwalde into a vampire (denigrating him with the name "Blacula" into the bargain) and imprisons him in a sealed coffin to suffer the un-ending thirst of the damned. Mamuwalde's wife Luva (McGee) is also imprisoned but, not being a vampire, dies in captivity.

Almost two centuries later, in 1972, the coffin has been purchased as part of an estate by two gay interior decorators, and shipped to Los Angeles. The men open the coffin and become the vampire's first victims. Blacula then travels around the city and soon encounters Tina (McGee), who appears to be a reincarnation of his deceased wife, and begins stalking her. This brings the vampire to the attention of Dr. Gordon Thomas (Rasulala), who is helping Lt. Peters (Pinsent) with the investigation of the series of strange murders that is occurring, and whose girlfriend Michelle (Nicholas) is Tina's sister (by an unlikely coincidence Tina and Michelle are also friends of Bobby, one of the murdered gay men).

The film continues as the vampire kills several more victims and hypnotizes Tina into falling in love with him. Meanwhile Thomas, Peters, and Michelle are following the trail of victims and come to realize that a vampire is responsible and Mamuwalde is their culprit. In the final scenes, the police shoot at Blacula and Tina; he is unharmed but she is mortally wounded. He saves her by turning her into a vampire, but Thomas, Peters, and Michelle find Tina and kill her with a stake through her heart. Distraught, Mamuwalde climbs up a staircase and onto a rooftop, into the sun to kill himself. Blacula melts in the light, and maggots suck his bones, and eat his flesh.


The film was not reviewed by most mainstream critics, but those that did were typically unfavorable toward the film. Despite this, the film has a strong cult following, and Marshall's performance in the lead has been widely praised. The film also won the first ever Saturn Award for Best Horror Film.

The film found a new audience in the early '80s, when Elvira featured it on her syndicated TV series, Movie Macabre. It has since become a cult classic, and is now available on DVD and as a rental on iTunes, from MGM Home Entertainment, the current copyright owners of the AIP catalog.


Blacula was a financial success when it was originally released. It was immediately followed by a sequel, Scream Blacula Scream (1973), in which the vampire is made corporeal again by a Voodoo practitioner. The success of the film also inspired the making of several other blaxploitation/horror crossovers in the mid-seventies, including Abby, Blackenstein, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, Ganja and Hess, The House on Skull Mountain, J. D.'s Revenge and Sugar Hill, although none of these films were as successful commercially as Blacula.


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