Remastered ‘Blacula’ Finally Comes to Blu-Ray This Halloween (But There’s a Catch…)

Remastered 'Blacula' Finally Comes to Blu-Ray This Halloween (But There’s a Catch…)

Will wonders
ever cease?

Long before "Blade," there was "Blacula." That’s right, Dracula’s “Soul
Brother” "Blacula" is finally coming to
blu-ray/DVD in all its pristine remastered glory, easily replacing the sub-par
standard MGM/Fox DVD released 10 years ago.

The film was
a huge hit when it was first released in 1972 (it even spawned "Blacula" action figures, and other merchandising); and while it may look campy and
humorous today, it was intentionally meant to be that way, while providing
chills and scares.

But it also reflected
the wide diversity of black films made during the so-called “Blaxploitation”
era of the early to mid-70’s, when anything and everything was being made, from horror
films, to comedies, to action thrillers, to romances, to serious dramas. It
definitely wasn’t just "Super Fly" and a bunch of copy cats. Now it’s basically just
comedies and romcoms, which as I’ve said before, are more “com” than “rom;” and
all of them seemingly starring the same group of black actors.

The plot was a rather unique twist on the Dracula legend, in which William Marshall plays an African
prince who travels to Transylvania to enlist
Count Dracula’s help in abolishing the
slave trade. Unfortunately for the prince, evidently no one had the slightest courtesy
to tell him what the count really was, and before he knows it, Dracula has sunk his teeth into the African prince’s neck, and turned him into a vampire.

He winds up, centuries later, in Los Angeles, after two interior decorators buy his coffin and
wake him up, becoming his first victims. Now free, Blacula goes on the prowl, encountering
new victims for his "legion of the undead," while falling in love with a beautiful
woman (played by Vonetta McGee), who he believes is a reincarnation of his
dead wife.

The film was
directed by one of the very few black TV directors of the period – William Crain – who had a busy career, cranking out TV episodes, and was
the right guy to make the film, with his experience in shooting fast and even cheaply. In fact,
American International Pictures shot "Blacula" during the late winter, and early spring of 1972, and released it in theaters that August.

It was a box office smash.

And as a
result of the role and its success, Marshall found an extraordinary new popularity after many years on the stage, and
in countless supporting roles in TV and film – most of them not up to his
level or talent. Not surprisingly, having
a lead role for the first time in film, he rips into the role of Blacula with a
ferociousness, and though it’s not seen in the trailers below, he gives his
character a nobility and a
tragic dimension.

In fact, it
was Marshall’s choice on making him an African prince, and putting an anti-slavery
element in the film, since in the original script, Blacula was just an ordinary guy
by the name of Brown.

And then of course
there’s That Voice. Did anyone have a
more commanding, more resonant voice than Marshall? Just hearing it, it immediately demands your
attention and respect.

And even
better, the Blu-ray will also include the 1973 sequel "Scream Blacula Scream," starring, once again, Marshall and, this time, Pam Grier. Though the film was widely regarded
as something of a letdown, a sequel was quickly rushed into production to capitalize
on the popularity of the first film, it’s still fun nevertheless and has its moments.

And, of course, there was Pam Grier.

So this Halloween
is going to be really special, now that both films will be released in a Blu-ray
set (which will also include Standard DVD versions of both films) on Monday
Oct. 27.

However
there is a catch…

Unfortunately, the blu-ray set will be released overseas by the British video label Eureka
Entertainment, which means that, unless you live in the U.K. or elsewhere in Europe, you will not be able to play the discs on your domestic blu-ray players
since they will be PAL version (or Region 2) DVDs. That is, unless you happen to own an
all region blu-ray player (like me, I
boast
), which can play DVDs from any region in the world.

However, the
potential good news here is that, there’s a chance that the American video label, Shout Factory’s horror film specialty label, Scream Factory, might release the "Blacula" Blu-rays in the States, since Scream Factory has previously released 
a number of American International horror film titles from the 60’s and
70’s, on Blu-ray. So a Region 1 "Blacula" Blu-ray DVD could be in the works.

I mean it’s
only fitting; after all, why should the foreigners have all the fun and leave us locals, out
in the cold?

Here’s the trailer
for "Blacula":

 

And the trailer
for "Scream Blacula Scream":

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Comments

Chris

To say "long before blade" isn't accurate. Blade first appeared in 1973, just one year later. Get your facts straight.

urbanauteur

MAGNIFICENT ACTOR!!!!…grossly underrated and marginalized by those 50's Hollywood witch hunts.

Mike

There was diverse films being released in
the 1970's. The ones you hear about are "Shaft" and
"Superfly", but we're much more. "Blacula" is one of
my favorites. I will have to buy a all region blu-ray DVD player
so I enjoy it. Hey, it's worth it.

Geneva Girl

I remember seeing this in the theater. We all had a blast. What great memories.

I had the pleasure of seeing Marshall in a one-man show of Paul Robeson's life. I hadn't read the Playbill before the show and it was driving me crazy where I knew him from. Then it hit me, midplay, that he was Blackula (and King Cartoon). I will keep an eye out for the DVD.

CareyCarey

Sergio, you never cease to amaze me with how truly brilliant you are at this blogging thang. I loved the witticism, sarcasm, suspense, pokes and jokes and ride down memory, I loved this post.

My hat is tipped in your direction.

m.knight

Sergio, you broke my heart! I was so excited at the title, I should've known it was too good to be true. Here's hoping it'll be released here on blu ray soon.

CAP1956

Glad to hear that one of my favorite cult films is finally getting the Blu Ray treatment it deserves. I have a Pioneer all-region DVD player, but I'm hoping for a Region 1 release.
Bless the late, great Mr. William Marshall for embuing his character with such dignity, intelligence, passion, and ferocity. Thank you for acknowledging his immense contribution to the success and effectiveness of the film. In addition to Mr. Marshall, kudos to director William Crain; to composer Gene Page, for composing that great, funky score; and to a fantastic supporting cast, including heroic Thalmus Rasulala, feisty Ketty Lester (who effectively goes from funny to frightened to frightening), and the lovely, talented, and charming Denise Nicholas, Vonetta McGee, and Emily Yancy. Anxious to see if there are any special features. I hope there's a good commentary.

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