The Black Prince of Darkness – Blacula 1972 đŸ’€đŸŽƒ

Original 1972 theatrical poster

Way to turn the classic “Dracula” on its’ head! I think the idea to present Blacula as an 18th Century African prince during the slave trade was historical and topical. Although considered a Blaxploitation horror film, it was taken with a serious approach and hits the mark on the classic Universal horror flick.

This trailer is so typical of an American International Picture, high on exploitation and drama. Formed on April 2, 1954, from American Releasing Corporation (ARC) by James H. Nicholson, former Sales Manager of Realart Pictures, and Samuel Z. Arkoff, an entertainment lawyer. It was dedicated to releasing independently produced, low-budget films.

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Samuel Zachary Arkoff (June 12,1918 – September 16, 2001)

The ARKOFF formula:

  • Action (exciting, entertaining drama)

  • Revolution (novel or controversial themes and ideas)

  • Killing (a modicum of violence)

  • Oratory (notable dialogue and speeches)

  • Fantasy (acted-out fantasies common to the audience)

  • Fornication (sex appeal, for young adults)

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The plot of Blacula is the story of Manuwalde (William Marshall), an African Prince. It’s a modern twist on the classic Dracula legend and is told in a very compelling and chilling way.

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William Marshall “Blacula”

In the year 1780, while on a goodwill visit to ask Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to help him suppress the slave trade, (which existed in parts of Africa, like the rest of the world, and was a part of the economic structure of some societies for many centuries), he is refused by the Count. Instead, Manuwalde is turned into a vampire by Count Dracula and wife, Luva (Vonetta McGee) is killed.

Quote – Dracula: You shall pay, black prince. I shall place a curse of suffering on you that will doom you to a living hell. I curse you with my name. You shall be… Blacula!

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The scene then shifts to the year 1972 with two interior decorators from modern-day Los Angeles California traveling to Castle Dracula in Transylvania and unknowingly purchasing the now-undead Mamuwalde’s coffin, which they ship to Los Angeles.

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One of the interior decorators – Could he be Richard Simmons’ twin or what?😄

Later unlocking the coffin, the decorators release Mamuwalde, becoming his first two victims, turning them and the others he encounters into vampires like himself in his bloodthirsty reign of terror. (Wikipedia)

Blacula was released on August 25, 1972, to mixed reviews.  American International Pictures’ marketing department in an effort to ensure that black audiences would be interested in Blacula; created posters for the film including references to slavery, hence, blaxploitation.

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Noted for creating the Blaxploitation horror genre, Blacula debuted at #24 on Variety’s list of top films. It eventually grossed over a million dollars, making it one of the highest-grossing films of 1972. A sequel to the film titled Scream Blacula Scream was released in 1973 by American International. The film also stars William Marshall in the title role along with actress and star of (“Foxy Brown” 1974) Pam Grier.

 

Trivia:

Blacula was in production between late January and late March 1972. While Blacula was in its production stages, William Marshall worked with the film producers to make sure his character had some dignity.

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His character name was changed from Andrew Brown to Mamuwalde and his character received a background story about being an African prince who had succumbed to vampirism.

Blacula was shot on location in Los Angeles, with some scenes shot in the Watts neighborhood and the final scenes taken at the Hyperion Outfall Treatment Plant in the beachside, west Los Angeles Playa del Rey.

The Hues Corporation - Blacula 1972

The Hues Corporation 1972

The music for Blacula is unlike that of most horror films as it uses rhythm and blues as opposed to haunting classical music. The film’s soundtrack features a score by Gene Page, who was one of the most prolific arrangers/conductors of popular music during his time and worked on more than 200 gold and platinum records.

A variety of the artists Gene Page worked with:

The Supremes, The Four Tops, Buffalo Springfield, Barbra Streisand, Donna Loren, Martha and the Vandellas, Cher, Barry White, The Love Unlimited Orchestra, Whitney Houston, George Benson, The Jackson Five, Roberta Flack,Elton John, José Feliciano, Leo Sayer, Seals & Croft, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Frankie Valli, Dobie Gray, Peabo Bryson, Lionel Richie, Jeffrey Osborne

Music on the soundtrack also included contributions by The Hues Corporation. They are best known for their 1974 single “Rock the Boat”, which sold over 2 million copies. (Wikipedia)

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In the spirit of Halloween and Throwback ’70’s, check it out. I think you’ll “Dig it”!

The Legend of Dracula

 

“Listen to them, children of the night; what music they make.” Count Dracula

 

 

Dracula is the immortal 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. It introduced the famous character Count Dracula and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy.

 

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The first edition cover of Dracula

Of all the film adaptations of the classic novel, the 1931 Dracula directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi is most synonymous with Stoker’s legendary character, Count Dracula of Transylvania.

The film was produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which in turn is loosely based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. The 1924 stage play was substantially revised in 1927 and was the first authorized adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s novel Dracula, and has influenced many subsequent adaptations.

The 1927 Broadway production starred Bela Lugosi in his first major English-speaking role, which he reprised in the 1931 film adaptation of the play. A 1977 Broadway revival designed by Edward Gorey, starring Frank Langella, won the Tony Award for Best Revival.

 

 

Bram Stoker’s novel had already been filmed without permission as Nosferatu in 1922 by German expressionist filmmaker F. W. Murnau. Bram Stoker’s widow sued for plagiarism and copyright infringement, and the courts decided in her favor, essentially ordering that all prints of Nosferatu be destroyed.

 

Nosferatu

Nosferatu

Enthusiastic young Hollywood producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. also saw the box office potential in Stoker’s gothic chiller, and he legally acquired the novel’s film rights. Initially, he wanted Dracula to be a spectacle on a scale with the lavish silent films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). (Wikipedia)

 

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The decision on casting the title role proved problematic. Initially, Laemmle was not at all interested in Lugosi, in spite of good reviews for his stage portrayal. Laemmle instead considered other actors, including Paul Muni, Chester Morris, and Ian Keith.

Today, Dracula is widely regarded as a classic of the era and of its genre. In 2000, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

 

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To many film lovers and critics alike, Lugosi’s portrayal is widely regarded as the definitive Dracula. Lugosi had a powerful presence and authority on-screen. The slow, deliberate pacing of his performance (“I bid you
 welcome!” and “I never drink
 wine!”) gave his Dracula the air of a walking, talking corpse, which terrified 1931 movie audiences.

He was just as compelling with no dialogue, and the many close-ups of Lugosi’s face in icy silence jumped off the screen. With this mesmerizing performance, Dracula became Bela Lugosi’s signature role, his Dracula a cultural icon, and he himself a legend in the classic Universal Horror film series.

 

Where it all startedÂ đŸ˜±

 

Abraham “Bram” Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912)

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Bram Stoker

 

Stoker’s visit to the English coastal town of Whitby in 1890 is said to be part of the inspiration for Dracula. He began writing novels while a manager for Henry Irving, as well as, director of London’s Lyceum Theatre, beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897.

During this period, Stoker was part of the literary staff of the The Daily Telegraph in London, and he wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). (Wikipedia)

 

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Stoker was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave the opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.”

 

 

Before writing Dracula, Stoker met Ármin VĂĄmbĂ©ry, a Hungarian writer, and traveler. Dracula likely emerged from VĂĄmbĂ©ry’s dark stories of the Carpathian mountains. Stoker then spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires.

 

 

Dracula is an epistolary novel, written as a collection of realistic but completely fictional diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship’s logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to the story, a skill which Stoker had developed as a newspaper writer.

At the time of its publication, Dracula was considered a “straightforward horror novel” based on imaginary creations of supernatural life.”It gave form to a universal fantasy . . and became a part of popular culture.” (Wikipedia)

 

 

After suffering a number of strokes, Stoker died at No. 26 St George’s Square, London on 20 April 1912. He was cremated, and his ashes were placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium in north London.