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John Ary's Aint It Scary Reviews #2 Of 31!! SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM!!

John Ary here with another installment of Ain’t It Scary Reviews.  Today we’re taking a groovy look at one of the 70’s most happening vampires.

There’s only one reason to see Scream, Blacula, Scream.  William Marshall is probably best known to members of my generation as the King of Cartoons on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.  That’s a true shame, as this Shakespearean-trained actor had so much more talent than the children of the 80’s and 90’s were lead to believe.  Not only was he a classically trained performer of Shakespeare, opera and Broadway, but he also made the rounds through Hollywood making appearances in TV shows and films like Star Trek, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Boston Strangler and Demetrious and the Gladiators.  With this film, he takes the campy and silly and spins it into an impressive show of terrifying force as the African prince of darkness in this blaxploitation sequel from 1973.  He elevates a tawdry vampire tale from terrible to passable with his deep bass voice, powerful presence, and true dedication to his craft.  It seems like he has no idea that he’s been cast in a shitty vampire movie.  Instead, Marshall delivers his lines as though he’s performing Othello from the center stage of the Globe Theater.  He deserved better than this.  By all accounts Scream, Blacula, Scream should be a really terrible time sucker.  Marshall makes it watchable.

When the head of a Voodoo church passes on, her shunned heir seeks revenge.  He unleashes the power of Blacula without understanding the deadly ramifications.  The first third of the movie is fun as Blacula seeks out victims and builds a small army of vampire henchmen.  He meets Pam Grier, a young Voodoo priestess who may hold the key to releasing him from his curse, but her ex-cop boyfriend is on to Blacula and believes him to be the culprit of several suspicious slayings around town.

The film starts off strong and felt on par with its Hammer peers of the time that featured Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, but once Blacula decides to spend more time getting to know Pam Grier instead of beating up pimps and teaching his new apprentice how to suck blood, the fun begins to fade.  It has good ending with the cops taking on Blacula’s vampire battalion, but it’s not quite enough to overcome the painfully boring mid-movie slow down.  

On the plus side, it’s an interesting time capsule for American culture in the 70’s, full of swinging fashions and music that jives.  There is some lip service given to empowering black culture and reversing society’s negative  trends of the day, but otherwise it felt like producers we’re just cashing in on a niche market.  Overall, Scream, Blacula, Scream should only be watched by those who want to see a true master transcend an anemic artistic environment... and it would help to have the remote handy.  You may need that fast forward button.  

Scream, Blacula, Scream is currently streaming on Netflix.  It’s also available on DVD here.


Check back in tomorrow for another Ain’t It Scary Review as we sample a 1963 horror anthology from Italy.

For more video news, reviews and interviews subscribe to the AICN Youtube channel and follow me on Twitter.

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 2, 2012, 10:27 a.m. CST

    I saw "Blackula" in a theatre filled with screaming black women.

    by Smerdyakov

    Big time fun. Anyway, I think the first movie was a lot better than this one. Effeminate gay characters and all.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 10:50 a.m. CST

    Scream, Bacula, scream!

    by Mugato5150

    Yes, that is the theme song to your new show, Enterprise!

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:11 a.m. CST


    by ShutTheFuckUp

    WRITE something, God damn it, these videos STINK. Not a little blurb before and after the awkward, no-good video, but an actual ARTICLE like a JOURNALIST would write. Fuck sakes, we can all read here. Why video?

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:16 a.m. CST

    yeah... this movie is terrible

    by Monnie Knapp

    Hopefully, the real gems are being saved for future use, as this picture is pretty bad. My wife could not make it through the first half, she said something like, "Seriously, this isn't 'good bad' it is simply shit." Yesterday's pick was promising, love that picture, jut this is pretty low on the Netflix ladder. I just watched "Dr. Terror's House of Horror" on streaming the other day, and that deserves a look. A fun little horror anthology featuring Cushing, Lee and a young Donald Sutherland. It's leagues better than anything related to Blacula.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:16 a.m. CST


    by John Ary

    After reading the subject to your comment, I was hoping it would be followed by a "Hammertime!" No such luck.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:17 a.m. CST

    'an anemic artistic environment'

    by Turd_Is_Floating_Underneath_The_Gravy

    Oh, come off it. AICN is filled with bafflingly pretentious reviewers; we don't need another. Anyone expecting high 'art' from a 70's blaxploitation horror film is off their rocker. If you're going to review B-movies, exploitation and low budget horror movies, please take them on the level they were designed for instead of sneering. Here's another humdinger: 'it feels like the producers were cashing in on a niche market'. Yeah, no shit! That's because they were. The makers of these types of flicks had no illusions about what they were doing; they wanted to make a fast buck for a low cost. They had no pretensions to social commentary or high art. Maybe a few did, but in most cases, they did not. This is absolutely the wrong way to appraise these films, trying to postulate post-modern academic theories forty years after the fact and attaching irrelevant baggage to them, instead of reviewing these movies from within the context of why and how they were made, and in what context they were consumed and enjoyed by their drive-in/grindhouse/ 42nd street audiences, back in the day... It all sounds like a review from someone who doesn't really like horror movies (or, at least, the 'trashier' end of the scale), akin to something from the pen of the wretched Mr. Beaks, and that is NOT a good thing.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:21 a.m. CST


    by John Ary

    Having not seen any of the films on the list previously, this was one was a real disappointments.

  • The Vincent Price "revenge" films (Dr. Phibes films, Theatre Of Blood) are fun also.

  • Like... Blackenstein... Creature From the "Black" Lagoon (get it?)... I Was A Teenage Werewolf in The Hood... Hell, you could even have thown "Blackzilla" in there, and it would have made a buck or two... Believe it!

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:44 a.m. CST

    I am great. You are great.

    by B Arnold Quizzling

    William Marshall indeed rocked. He brought an interesting slant to Daystrom in the Trek Ultimate Computer episode.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:47 a.m. CST

    iamatroll, there actually WAS a Blackenstein movie

    by Turd_Is_Floating_Underneath_The_Gravy

    as well as a 'Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde'. There was quite a little sub-genre of blaxploitation horror.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:50 a.m. CST


    by B Arnold Quizzling

    Clearly your priorities are correct.

  • I HAVE to see this "blackenstein" flick then! too bad the world is so pc today that stuff like this cant be done in this day and age. last "blacksploitation"-like film i can recall was "vampire in brooklyn" with eddie murphy. boy was that lousy...

  • The head of a white racist is sewn to Rosie Greer's body. Hilarity ensues.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Two Headed Transplant

    by B Arnold Quizzling

    Is even funnier that Ray Milland plays the bigot. I wonder if anyone on set asked him about his Oscar for The Lost Weekend.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Ray Miland did a number of horror flicks

    by Smerdyakov

    X-The Man with X-Ray Eyes, Frogs, The Uncanny. And when he was young he played a lot of ladies heartthrobs. Go figure.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 12:52 p.m. CST

    Fast forward?

    by DrGogol

    And miss a second of this classic? Apparently Scream, Blacula Scream is wasted on you.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 1:18 p.m. CST

    All you haters can suck it!!!

    by thelordofhell

    Blacula.....Pam Grier..........this movie's all sort of funky awesome!!

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 1:31 p.m. CST

    I own both of these (they came in a two-pack).

    by sweeneydave

    The first was all kinds of "so bad, it's good". This one was just "so bad, it's dull".

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 1:48 p.m. CST

    Does Jefferson Twilight ever show up?

    by Nice Marmot

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 2:14 p.m. CST

    William Marshall's voice... wow!!!

    by albert comin

    And he's known for a cheesy vampire movie and a children's TV show? Oh the vississitudes of life!

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 3:04 p.m. CST

    Actually, the racist twoheaded movie is ...

    by Terry Powell

    ,,,The Thing with Two Heads. The Incredible Two headed Transplant is the duller of the two, and as stated above, is available on a two pack. The Thing with... is a hoot, watching the thing race away from the police on a motorcycle, fake head bobbing along. Would love to see a still from the making of this, with Ray Milland standing on a box or something behind Rosie Greer. And it is funny, love the racist Milland's reaction when he first wakes up and raises his arm, seeing that its black. Crappy movie, but fun. And imatroll, don't waste your time on Blakenstein. I bought it a couple of years ago for 5 bucks at Walmart. Really terrible movie. Dull dull dull. And I love a lot of old bad movies. This one isn't even fun. I guess you could watch it just to point out how stupid it is(for some reason when the creature is brought to life, he gets a big ol' square head, mimicking Karloff). No name actors at all, no Millands, Marshalls or the cousins Grier, just very bad amateurs. Too bad, would have loved something to pair up with the original Blacula, the sequel is not very good, Count Yorga had it's own good sequel, maybe the House of Dark Shadows. I've already preordered that, but the "sequel" to that is terrible so I skipped it. And speaking of movies and their sequels, when are they gonna get around to releasing the original Willard and Ben? Thought for sure they would when the remake came out but nope. I know that the films were owned by Bing Crosby Productions and for years have seemed to be tied up, but the Walking Tall trilogy finally came out this spring, so hopefully other BCP films will be released(the rat movies, Reincarnation of Peter Proud).

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 3:23 p.m. CST


    by Hipshot

    actually filmed a couple of days at Whitney Young Jr. Memorial hospital, where I worked as a recreational therapist in the 70's. That was a fascinating period in film, the only period in American history where black people were really presented as human beings, with all their moving parts intact. Very unlike now, when "Shaft" gets emasculated and "Alex Cross-dresser" is the order of the day. Pitiful.

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 7:47 p.m. CST

    Count Yorga...

    by Red Ned Lynch

    ...The Return of Count Yorga and (sort of) The Deathmaster. They're all terrible in about the same way and I intensely love them all. Good old Robert Quarry!

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 7:56 p.m. CST


    by Red Ned Lynch

    Is available on Netflix streaming. It not only features Milland, it also stars Sam Elliot, Joan Van Ark and Adam Roarke. And it's nature gone wild, baby! It is so 70s beautiful it hurts. It has the ecological message, the race message, the funny old lady, the ugliest yellow shorts-suit ever worn by a human, and killings by snapping turtle, alligator, snake, geckos!?!?!, Spanish Moss plus spiders, and a wonderful cameo by leeches! And Ray Milland...oh my. The end is just extraordinary. please do not take any of the above to suggest that the movie is good in any conventional sense. if you're the kind of person who likes movies like this you probably already know it. IF you are, this is a good one.

  • HOMER: Ooooo, funk-eh...!

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 11:20 p.m. CST

    JD's Revenge...

    by Red Ned Lynch maybe my favorite of this particular subgenre. Even stars the mayor from The Wire. Clarence Royce, not Littlefinger. Hey, he was the scientist in Super 8, too. And he's in John Dies at the End. Anyway, JD's is about this college kid possessed by a gangster from the 40s who uses the kid to take...terrible revenge. In great clothes.

  • Oct. 3, 2012, 5:36 a.m. CST


    by Hipshot

    If my memory serves me right. An "Exorcist" rip off starring William Marshall. Not bad, as a God-fearing church woman becomes a vicious, blaspheming slut.

  • Oct. 3, 2012, 5:42 a.m. CST


    by vermicelliknid

    1) All the movies will streamed. I want everyone to have access to these, so don’t plan on anything too obscure. 2) Surprise is the key. I can only watch films that I haven’t seen before. 3) The idea is to watch only good movies. I’m not searching out any of that so bad it’s good schlock. It’s all about quality. May I politely remind Mr Ary of rule no. 3?

  • Oct. 3, 2012, 8:01 a.m. CST


    by John Ary

    This was one of those I went with my gut on... Didn't exactly pan out as a good pick.

  • Oct. 3, 2012, 3:45 p.m. CST


    by vermicelliknid

    Haha. A very fair justification! I suspect you've got the month's treats locked up. Just in case you haven't though, I'd love to hear a review of one of the BBC's old 1970s Ghost Stories for Christmas (made for TV and short, I know. But they're so good!). Warning... Barchester... Lost Hearts... Your video reviews are great by the way!

  • Oct. 3, 2012, 8:54 p.m. CST

    I saw this in 1973 in a theater of screaming black kids

    by Redc40

    and two white kids (me and my buddy). I was so traumatized I slept with the covers around my neck for months. I was 11, though, so that is likely understandable. I saw it on AMC in 2008 and it was quite hilarious.