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SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM 1973 William Marshall (Mamuwalde/Blacula), Pam Grier (Lisa Fortier), Don Mitchell (Justin Carter), Richard Lawson (Willis Daniels), Michael Conrad (Lt. Harley Dunlop) Directed by Bob Kelljan "Hey,
look here, man. You mean to tell me I ain't never gon' see my face
again?! Hey, look man, I don't mind bein' a vampire and all that shit,
but, but this really ain't hip! I mean, a man HAS GOT TO SEE HIS FACE!" The Short Version:This lesser sequel to the 70s cult favorite BLACULA (1972) abandons that films romanticism and humanization of the lead character,
opting for a heavier horror accent. Kelljan has essentially reworked
highlights from his two YORGA movies for this one. It's voodoo vs.
vampire when Pam Grier meets William Marshall, only the former is
nowhere near the one woman war machine she was in COFFY (1973).
The assault on the vampire filled mansion during the finale is among
this films few highlights. An entertaining film, but nothing to SCREAM
about. Marshall excels, and shows he was clearly capable of out-menacing
Christopher Lee in any of his Dracula roles.It's a true shame Mamuwalde wasn't resurrected a third time.
A voodoo priestess dies without naming her
successor. Through a vote, the group choose Lisa Fortier as their new
leader. The dead woman's son, Willis Daniels, vehemently disagrees.
Humiliated and forced out of the cult, Willis buys
the bones of the vampire Mamuwalde from a dethroned occult priest elder
and uses them in a ritual to revive the undead prince.
off helming two COUNT YORGA movies, Bob Kelljan took the job of the
Yorga-ish sequel to the horror hit, BLACULA (1972). The blood is a bit
thin this time out with a script that offers lots of promise but fails
to deliver on much of it. The same two contributors (Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig)
from the first movie return with an additional screenplay credit going
to a Maurice Jules who also wrote the script for Stephanie Rothman's THE
VELVET VAMPIRE (1971). There
were some minor holes the first time around, but for the sequel,
there's a few that are fairly obvious. One of these includes the Ragman,
the disgraced voodoo priest. When we meet him near the beginning, he
has Mamuwalde's bones in his possession (this itself is not explained) and states he has also wanted revenge on this unnamed voodoo cult. Why has he not done so up to this point? Another
involves Willis, and this gaping plot hole is arguably the most painful
of the entire film. His reasoning for bringing the vampire back to life
is somewhat confusing. It's obvious it's for vengeful purposes, but
this revenge is never put into action. The film is a little over 60
minutes in before he ever even mentions getting back at Lisa again. Curiously, the
two of them never meet again after the films opening sequence. His
vengeance against the voodoo cult would have made an interesting story
arc with both Willis and Mamuwalde butting fangs over Lisa. But this
part is muddled, settling for a retread of the first movie via the Yorga
pictures as a template. Mamuwalde himself seems to have no purpose through the bulk of the movie except to vampirize various cast members.
He's far more villainous and evil than he was the first time around.
It's not till the film is more than half over before we discover he
wants to use Lisa to perform an exorcism to send him back to his African
tribe for forgiveness. The finale is just as tragic as it was the first
time around; only there's no lovelorn romanticism to make Mamuwalde as
sympathetic by way of the humanity he displayed in the earlier picture. Kelljan's
movie does link with the original by way of a flashback to the first
films opening sequence, and again when Mamuwalde visits the home of
Justin Carter where there's an African antique party going on. He
remarks about a particular necklace, of which only two were made -- one
being for the long dead princess
Luva. This is as close as the sequel gets to unification with the
character as depicted previously. Marshall is strictly menacing here.
It's not a bad thing, and probably the only way to go at this point; it's just that Mamuwalde is basically a taller, deeper voiced version of Count Yorga along with his growing number of undead minions.
of Yorga, there's lots of similarities between this film and the two
Yorga's -- particularly RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971). The scene where
Gloria rise from her casket and attempts to put the bite on Pam Grier is
similar to the one in the second Yorga film where Mariette Hartley is
confronted by one of her vampirized friends. Both
Yorga movies featured scenes wherein the heroes have a sit-down chat
with the head bloodsucker. In SBS, the exact same thing happens via a verbal and mental chess game of wits between Mamuwalde and Justin. The assault on the mansion is vastly similar as well. The cops engage in a literal "stakeout"
against the small army of male and female vampires. This scene is also
edited very well. While the ritual between Mamuwalde and Lisa is going
on in another room, the ominous beating of drums is heard on the
soundtrack intercut with the cops battling the bloodsuckers. One
impressive shot has a policeman in the foreground as a vampire literally
floats up behind him. This reverse siege (usually it's the monsters laying siege to the stronghold) is the best part of the film.
It's also at the end where Mamuwalde shockingly, and mockingly accepts his "slave name"
of Blacula. Dracula cursed him with it and to hear the pronouncement
come out of his mouth is a powerful moment in the movie. After the
ritual to send him back fails once Lisa's boyfriend Justin busts into
the room, Mamuwalde goes crazy and knocks him unconscious. She
reluctantly agrees to start the ceremony again elsewhere, but once the
vampire takes out a slew of cops, she wants him to stay away from her.
Justin then enters the room and calls to him, "Mamuwalde", to which the angered vampire says, "The name is Blacula!" At this point a brief battle of voodoo vs. vampire begins.
the first movie, the social issues of racism and anti-establishment
plot points that dominated most blaxploitation movies are mostly absent
here. There's one sequence where Mamuwalde is wandering the city streets
late at night, observing the porn peepshow shops and passing up the
advances of a prostitute when he's confronted by two pimps (one played by Bob Minor). They demand he hand over his "bread",
or they're going to kick his ass. Delivered in Marshall's wonderfully
aristocratic delivery, he states he has no bread with him and states in
long form the consequences that "kicking his ass" will bring. He
then scolds the two men for imitating their slave masters through their
criminal actions instead of taking the high road to obtain the "bread" they seek.
brief scene is a striking dichotomy when put up against the escapist
racism of most black action pictures that made those movies so
outrageous and made their heroes even more righteous. Again, like
BLACULA before it, race relations are stable between whites and blacks
as both are shown working together. This relationship is most strong
between Justin and his former boss, Lt. Dunlop (played by Michael Conrad, a familiar face from dozens of television programs). Both Conrad and Mitchell have some funny interplay between them.
"You are never to leave this house without my permission. Your only
justification for crawling on this Earth is to serve me. Understand me
well. If you ever dare to disobey, I will slice into your chest and pull
your worthless life out."
mentioned above, the character of Mamuwalde is more vicious here, and
only ever given a hint of sympathy during the last half via a dialog
exchange where he states to Lisa his actions are beyond his control.
Marshall defines formidability sinking his teeth into the role this
second go round; and he's even better at being menacing than even
Christopher Lee was in any of his Hammer interpretations. His vampire is
also a bit more physical than Lee's was, showing an eagerness to lift his opponents into the air, or toss them through windows. His
dialog is elucidated wryly at times, and pertinently threatening on
more than a few occasions. The showdown between the vampire prince and
the good guys in the bowels of a factory in the first movie is
replicated here more intensely, but any audience identification with the
vampire is erased save for some minor commiseration during the final
Grier was back onscreen after blazing a name for herself the month
prior to SBS's release in COFFY (1973), only her role here is the polar
opposite of the vengeful angel of that film. Lisa is extremely passive,
yet honorable. Grier shows a striking amount of emotional range between
the two films, and in some ways, she comes off better from an acting
perspective here. Her role here is no comic book creation, she's more
of a real woman. No doubt Grier is preferred blowing away the bad guys,
but as Lisa she shows what she's capable of outside the WIP/action
heroine persona she'd entertained since 1970.
Lawson gives a spirited performance as Willis, the son of the dead
voodoo priestess. From the opening sequence, we can see he isn't a very
civil minded person and brings his humiliation onto himself. His
character -- who resurrects Mamuwalde for a revenge that's never enacted
-- comprises the sporadic comedic element found here. Choice moments
include his discovery he can no longer see himself in the mirror and,
after Mamuwalde decrees no one is to harm Lisa, Willis boldly proclaims
what he intends to do to her oblivious to the prince standing behind
Don Mitchell (familiar to 70s TV show fans from his recurring role on IRONSIDE) arguably
does more with his role here than Thalmus Rasulala did in the previous
movie, but with less charisma. Mitchell's character of Justin Carter
represents an even more successful black man in a world making ground
where issues of racial equality are concerned. Unlike Rasulala's
scientist, Mitchell plays a former policeman, now retired and the owner
of a publishing firm. He lives in an extravagant home replete with
numerous African artifacts. Rasulala never got to go mano a mano with
Mamuwalde the way Mitchell does, but the latter fails to pull off the
charisma despite delivering a more spirited performance. The
musical score is uninspired here, and nowhere near the catchy tunes of
the previous movie. But then, BLACULA had The Hues Corporation and
SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM has no band featured save for some soul tunes
heard in the background during the party sequence. The score itself is
reminiscent of the YORGA series with its understated cues, but these too
lack punch. The only composition that stands out is the voodoo beats
that play over the climax.
Of minor note, the end credits list Craig Nelson as 'Sarge', but I didn't see him anywhere in the film. Nelson was a bumbling cop in Kelljan's RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971) as well as finding fame for his role as the father in the POLTERGEIST series and on the successful television series, COACH. Despite
having some great moments of spookery, SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM is an
average film compared to the original. That Pam Grier is the co-star is
reason enough to watch it. As it is, this sequel's major coup of
respectability is in the performance of William Marshall who yet again
gives his body and soul to this role. It's a shame Mamuwalde was not
brought back to life a third time, or, better yet, a series that went
the length of Hammer's Dracula productions. This review is representative of the MGM DVD.
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I've been a huge movie buff since childhood catching old horror and monster flicks on Shock Theater and kung fu movies at the drive-in during the late 70's and early 80's. I've had a long time fascination with, and appreciate all genres of fantastic cinema, good and bad. One fans cheese is another fans juicy steak. I like both equally and seldom find a film I truly dislike as I will find something of interest in just about anything. The bulk of the films or tv series' seen here are mostly from my childhood, or films I own in what has become an Amazing Colossal DVD collection.