In For The Kill
Scream Blacula Scream (Blacula, volume 2)
By Bob Kelljan
1973’s Scream Blacula Scream is a sequel to 1972’s cult-classic Blaxploitation horror film Blacula.
Outraged that his voodoo-queen mother has selected talented and powerful Lisa Fortier (played by Pam Grier) as her successor, Willis (Richard Lawson) seeks out a disgraced voodoo master, from whom he purchases the bones of the late Prince Mamuwalde (William H. Marshall). Armed with a modicum of magic, Willis plans to resurrect the vampire and then compel Mamuwalde to take vengeance on Lisa.
Mamuwalde’s first act is to drain Willis dry.
Mamuwalde does seek Lisa out, but not to punish her for being chosen as Mama Loa’s successor. Instead, he clings to the hope that Lisa can cure him of the curse of vampirism. While his undead state gives him extended life and other powers, it also forces on him an endless hunger, one he is forced to slake with surprising frequency. Lisa or someone like her is his best chance to escape his dreadful fate.
Unfortunately for Mamuwalde, his lack of self-control (in particular, his inability to avoid killing his victims) means that he leaves a trail of bodies in his wake — bodies enough that even the L.A.P.D. is forced to take note. L.A.P.D. Lieutenant Harley Dunlop (Michael Conrad) is inclined to hang a murder rap on Lisa and her fellow cult members, merely on the grounds that they’re weird. However, retired-policeman-turned-antiquities-collector Justin Carter (Don Mitchell) is convinced that there is a more sinister explanation. A vampire (and his rapidly expanding collection of undead minions) is stalking Los Angeles.
Desperate to become human again, Mamuwalde kidnaps Lisa. It’s up to Carter, Dunlop, and a large number of unnamed policemen-unlikely-to-collect-a-pension to rescue her.
If they can.
Sadly, whereas Blacula is a classic, this is more a doleful example of the hazards of going back to the well once too often. In large part, the problem seems to be that the writers have an idea about where they want to go, but don’t really know how to get there. The result is a meandering film, long on slow-moving vampires and short on tension.
There are a few things I did like.
I will give the L.A.P.D. cops this: they may be extremely sceptical that vampires exist1, but the uniformed police still help themselves to a handy pile of stakes (in the form of a broken picket fence) on Carter’s suggestion. Lack of situational awareness defeats these preparations. but hey, points for effort.
I will also give writers Joan Torres, Raymond Koenig, and Maurice Jules points for giving Mamuwalde a different goal in the sequel than he had in the first film. It’s unfortunate that the writers had no idea how to turn that into a 90-minute script (or at least into one whose pacing was not glacial), but at least they didn’t just remake the first film.
William H. Marshall and Pam Grier do their best with a script that does not do them any favours. The problems with this movie are to be blamed on writers and director. Though the two leads do not succeed in overcoming the limitations of their material, they also get points for effort.
Scream Blacula Scream is available here (Amazon). Chapters-Indigo does not appear to stock it.
1: The general rule of thumb in the Blacula films is that black characters are far more likely than white characters to spot Dark Forces at work, the main exception to this rule being the living Mamuwalde himself (this blind spot is why he is a vampire.). They are also more likely than white characters to quickly master the applicable occult rules of their situation. In contrast, white characters are like tic-tacs: white, interchangeable, and very tasty.