Blacula vs Racism

In New Column by John Tebbutt

blaculaSo I was driving home last week, when a comedian on Funny 1060AM got a detail wrong about the movie Blacula (1972). I slammed on the brakes, swerved into a ditch, and yelled at the radio for ten minutes, because I have no sense of proportion about public disinformation regarding 40-year-old supernatural Blaxploitation movies.

The comedian in question is very funny and talented, but I can’t tell you his name because I missed that particular little detail in the aforementioned meltdown in the car. If anyone recognizes him from my description of his routine, please share that info in the comments section. In any case, he was killing it, doing an absolutely hilarious piece that ridicules the KKK and their stupid racist attitudes and their stupid white hoods. He spoke in the voice of a klansman character who wanted to dress up like “a Dracula” instead of just being “a ghost” like all the other klansmen. The piece was clever, appropriately anti-racist, and just funny as hell. I was laughing my head off in the car. He started making jokes about the Grand Dragon having a literal dragon costume. I laughed even harder. Then, as the routine reached it’s crescendo, he pointed out that the Klan would never accept a “Dracula costume” in the ranks, because Dracula wasn’t racist. Because after all; Dracula made Blacula. How could he be racist?
Screeeeeech! Crash! Pscyhotic meltdown!
Dude — whatever your name is — it is awesome that you sited the movie Blacula in your otherwise brilliant comedy routine, and yes, it is true that Dracula creates Blacula in that movie, but he does it for extremely racist reasons. Dracula is racist as fuck.
Dracula appears in exactly one scene in Blacula, right at the beginning of the film, where he is entertaining African royalty in his Transylvanian home. Prince Mamuwalde and his wife are travelling through Europe, visiting persons of influence (such as the Count) and urging these dignitaries to help fight the slave trade that is decimating Africa. Classically trained actor William Marshall plays the prince with even more dignity and gravitas than he brought to his role as the inventor of the ultimate computer in the original Star Trek. See that picture of Marshall as Blacula, with the wild facial hair, red eyes and fangs? Yeah, he doesn’t look like that in the first scene. Instead, Prince Mamuwalde is a man of culture and education, eloquently pleading his case to Count Dracula with that deep, wonderful voice William Marshall is known for. With urgency and passion, he makes his plea for the Count to assist him in stopping the barbaric abduction of Africans for the purpose of slavery.
But Count Dracula turns out to be a colossal bigot, who just smiles and tells the prince that he believes slavery to be a good thing. The Count then leers at Mamuwalde’s wife, pointing out that he wouldn’t mind owning such a fine-looking woman. Mamuwalde’s eyes turn cold, but he keeps his fury in check, and politely gives Dracula an opportunity to apologize. No dice – the Lord of Darkness is a total dickhead, with no respect for anybody who isn’t a white aristocrat. In the argument that follows, Dracula claims the princess for his own, chomps on the Prince’s neck, and gleefully entombs him alive, cursing him with eternal life without ever knowing the taste of blood that he will soon hunger for.
It’s the best scene in the movie. The rest of the film is standard vampire hokum – apparently William Marshall would only agree to do the film if they added this scene at the beginning to give his character depth and meaning. It’s the main reason the film is remembered today bye, folks! — and it clearly shows that Dracula “made” Blacula for blatantly racist reasons. Stand-up comics would do well to actually watch Blacula before writing material about it.
Just needed to get that off my chest.