Blacula

Blacula is one of the most respected "blaxploitation" horror films to come out of the 70's, and the first blaxploitation horror film for us to tackle. Directed by a William Crain, a black director, and helmed by the Shakespearean actor William Marshall, it's essentially your standard Dracula story transported to an urban setting. And it's not nearly as bad as its goofy title would lead you to think.

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Blacula
Episode 248, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.

Craig: And I’m Craig.

Todd: So this month is February and in the United States, since I’m actually not sure how long it’s been, but it has been established. You wary is celebrated as black history month, where in the schools and I’m out and about, and in our daily events and lives, we celebrate the contributions of African-Americans in the United States and catch up a little bit on the pitiful job that we’ve done so far in doing that.

And remembering and acknowledging the contributions of black Americans and what they’ve done for us. So we hear on a two guys in a chainsaw. I don’t know. I just, I came out to Craig one time and I said, you know, of course we just did a Valentine’s day thing. We love to do these holiday things. But there is a whole genre of film that we’ve touched on and dipped into just a little bit that is geared, especially towards, uh, African-Americans in the horror industry.

Uh, obviously there is a period of time in the seventies, late seventies called blaxploitation cinema, which a couple hundred movies I’ve actually think more than 400 films were released, where it was suddenly realized African-Americans, uh, there, there might be a market for movies. Believe it or not starring them with them in it, with stories that, uh, speak to them or that they care about, you know, after being relegated to really, really poor roles in Hollywood, like a mammy type made roles, like in gone with the wind or sidekick roles, or they’re just a lot of these tropes that we have and a horror cinema has been no better at that.

However, uh, in the late seventies, there were some opportunities there. I mean quite honestly, to make money. And that is the sort of mixed bag that we dive into. When we talk about blaxploitation cinema, it’s black and exploitation meshed together, right. It’s sort of a double-edged sword here in preparation for this art, uh, for this episode, because another reason why Craig and I don’t try to dive too deep into this stuff is that we’re two of the whitest guys.

You probably like the white, easiest white guy. We are. We are wonder bread. Okay. This is what we are. So, you know, it makes us a little nervous that we might say something that w that just displays our ignorance. We’re certain that we have a lot of ignorance about this topic, but, um, you know, I, I said to Craig, and I think he agrees as part of the point of black history month.

And part of the point of. Having a podcast and talking about these kinds of things is that we try to gain a better understanding and in order to gain a better understanding and better yourself, sometimes you have to take some risks and you need to step out and have these conversations that at first may be difficult or uncomfortable, but they’re conversations worth having.

And, uh, I mean, come on, it’s just. These are just movies. All right. I don’t want to make this sound like super serious. Like we’re doing serious work here because we’re going to talk about black Hills. So, uh, little silly putting this preface in there, but I feel like we kind of need to get all that out there because we know we’ll probably put our foot in our mouth a little bit.

In just talking about this because we have to talk about it in the context in which it appeared. It is widely recognized as one of the very first hor uh, it isn’t, but it’s widely recognized as one of the most influential blaxploitation horror films to come out of the seventies that really set a tone and open up some doors for people that otherwise were closed.

And of all of those horror films of blaxploitation films that did come out, it’s probably. Still to this date regarded as one of the best. It doesn’t mean it’s a great movie, but in the context of everything else, it is. I think we have a lot to talk about here. I don’t know about you, Craig. Uh, I had seen black, uh, black, yellow back in high school, I think with some friends.

And at the time I remembered watching it and I was expecting a certain kind of movie. When you hear exploitation and you see movies like shaft and Superfly and stuff like that, that were more in the action. John Rez of this time period, lots of sacks. Lots of nudity, lots of violence. And it’s just kind of a mile a minute.

And I was expecting something like that with this movie. I think when I first went in, Oh, it’s going to be, you know, Dracula going down to the hood and like banging girls and like, you know, there’s going to be shootouts and cops running after him and stuff. I don’t know, but it’s definitely not. It’s not quite that.

I do remember going, Oh, This movie’s a little better than I thought it would be. I just remembered being surprised. So I hadn’t seen it since then. I was really happy to come back and revisit it at this time. And I needed a lot of help, you know, for us to begin to talk about this. So I actually went on shutter and found out that there is a little documentary there.

Called a horror noir. It is a cool documentary. It’s about an hour and a half long. And it, it talks with, um, interviews with black historians, filmmakers and actors, many people from these movies. They interviewed the director of this film, William Crane, who himself is black. It was fascinating. I, I highly recommend that if you enjoy this conversation or you want to kind of go out and learn more about this stuff and you have shutter.

Here we are promoting shutter again, get on there and find the documentary horror. Nawara it really opened my eyes up. And I think, um, the podcast is probably going to be a little more substantive, uh, as a result of watching that. How about you, Craig? What’s your history with this movie?

Craig: I had never seen it before.

Uh, I don’t know, like, I wasn’t really familiar with it. I’d heard the title, but I think. That I had intentionally shied away from blaxploitation films because the exploitation part of it made me feel very uncomfortable to the point that I thought, like these movies aren’t for me, like not just as a matter of taste, but like they’re not made for me.

They’re not, I’m not the intended audience. I just. So, you know, in preparation for this, I did just the tiniest bit of research. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on any of this at all, but as it turns out, though, these movies are exploitive. They also on the flip side were kind of the first opportunity.

In Hollywood for black directors and black actors. And, and, you know, in every aspect of filmmaking, it was kind of the first opportunity for people of color, to not only take advantage of their abilities as writers, directors, actors, et cetera. But to be the central focus,

Todd: to be the heroes, to

Craig: be the heroes and the, and there are elements of it that are stereotypical, but you can say that I suppose, of any movie or any genre, there’s always stereotypes, especially in horror, you know, horror is, you know, rooted in

Todd: stereotypes.

By its nature. Horror is exploitative. You know, I mean, it that’s pretty much the whole genre. Right, right.

Craig: But here though, there are those elements and, and, and certainly elements that are worthy of criticism, you know, the focus on violence and the stereotypes of certain characters like pimps and criminals and, and violence and that kind of stuff.

Also provided an opportunity for real representation of people of color, not just to play the villain, not just to play the bad guy, but to also be main characters and heroes and to have real storylines. And I guess I was just unaware of that. I thought that these movies and, and I’m. I’m not well-versed in them.

Like I haven’t seen any of the other big ones, like shaft, you know, I’ve, I’ve seen. There are still some elements, some filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, who’s a big fan of blaxploitation films. Uh, he still incorporates elements of these films into his work. So I’ve seen some of his work that incorporates those elements and like even silly things.

Like, I don’t remember one of those Austin power movies. With a Beyonce. I think it was gold member or whatever. Like her role in that movie is very reminiscent of the like Pam Greer kind of character. So I I’ve seen some of those more contemporary ones, but I was afraid that even by indulging them, I would be in some way.

I, it just didn’t feel right. And now that I’m more aware that really largely the black community embraced these movies for the opportunities that they provided, I’m a little bit more open to it. Now, all that being said. They still, these films still faced wide criticism for their stereotypical nature and the NAACP, and some other organizations were opposed to at least elements of these movies, but I’m kind of glad that I’m dipping my toe into the.

Pool with this movie, because I really felt that why there, while there are certainly stereotypical elements going on here, the heroes in the movie are heroes and even Prince Manuel de. Black ULA. He’s a nuanced character and he’s a sympathetic character and watching the movie didn’t make me feel dirty.

I thought that it might, and it didn’t.

Todd: Right, right. That’s reassuring. So that’s good. Yeah. I mean, before this we’ve done, what Def by temptation. Uh, we did tales from the hood. We did get out. I mean, those are almost three completely different. Era’s right there. Def by temptation, late eighties, early nineties tales from the hood mid nineties, get out very modern.

Those are not blaxploitation movies. When we say blaxploitation, we’re very definitely talking about yeah, it’s a specific genre, right? Yeah. And, and like you said, it’s a double-edged sword there with how this, how these films came out. I mean, AIP. Is the company that made this film, the owners producer AIP is Samuel Z.

Arkoff this guy, basically they would, I ride the coattails of whatever was popular at the time. They were not there to lead, you know, in front with their pictures. They were seeing, Oh, action movies with a big car chases are big right now. So let’s go and as cheaply as possible. Make a bunch of action movies with big car chases, get them out to the drive ins, get them out to the, you know, the theaters where people are and see what sticks and try to make some money from these kind of like Roger Corman, except Roger Corman, a few steps above on that.

On that level. He was actually breaking ground and doing things, but still it’s all about making money. So these films are generally low investment and low quality and William Crane, the director of this movie. Now the script came, he didn’t write it. As grape came along, two guys, John Taurus, Raymond Conich.

I was looking for information on them to even see if they were black. And I couldn’t find that information according to IMD B those two together only wrote this movie and the SQL screen black ULA screen, which by the way, Pam Grier’s first appearance, uh, was in scream, black ulous scream. So both of these films actually are quite well-regarded of both this one and the SQL, but anyway, William Crane was an up and coming black director and he got the opportunity.

He was asked to come in and direct this movie. He found out he wasn’t happy with the script that he found. It was originally going to be called count. Brown is in town. And the main character’s name was going to be Andrew Brown, which is the same name as the character from Amos and Andy and that’s problematic Amos and Andy was a radio show that was pretty racist in its depiction of black characters.

So he wanted to come in and change this. And it was his idea to make this Prince, um, mama wall day. He completely roots it in the time he says Prince mumble all day goes to visit count Dracula. 1790s with his queen, I guess a wife or whatever. And they go to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. And apparently in this world, Dracula himself either has influenced with, or is somehow involved in the slave trade.

From Africa. And so he goes there to, can try to convince Dracula, to use his influence, to stop that. And Dracula’s like nice idea, but no, I think there’s some good things about slavery and by the way, uh, I think your wife is pretty hot and, uh, what a buyer I want to buy or, yeah. Pretty it’s pretty horrific.

And so that becomes the origin story. That was one of the changes that, you know, what are the big changes that he made, but otherwise, in this film, although you’ll see an almost all black cast, there are white people in the film. Of course he said, otherwise on the set behind the scenes, I found a lot of

Craig: tangible resistance and maybe even tangible resentment.

Yeah. Well, for racism, I mean, nobody’s going to show your crew was. Predominantly white or everybody was white right now. I can’t remember anyone

Todd: else black. There was on that set the changes he wanted to make both visually into the script and the story he really had to fight for. And he had to really try to convince even the higher ups that, you know, just let me do this.

I know what I’m doing. And, uh, it seems like at the end of the day, he pretty much got what he asked for and it’s probably, but yeah, even before these genres, you know, you have black people in these tropes, there’s the magical Negro trope where there’s a black character in the movie that, you know, brings in some mystical wisdom and then they give the white characters, just the.

Exact information, they need to be able to succeed. And then you have the sacrificial Negro where it’s sort of an extension of the faithful servant trope. Like the mammy who’s doesn’t care about herself and her plight. You know, she just wants to make the white person happy and that’s her life has to serve them.

You know, we see this a lot in horror movies too, where the black character comes in and sacrifices themselves. So the white character can continue to live. The first to die is the trope to write in the horror movies that we get a lot of. Right. I mean, there are a lot of examples and there are a lot of exams samples where this isn’t always true.

We know actually a lot of horror movies that we’ve done here even back in the day, you know, people under the stairs West Craven was pretty good at that. He has a young black kid and Kincaid and nightmare on Elm street. Three puts up a pretty good fight. So. You know, it’s not across everything, but, uh, these movies are very much fun to watch because the people in charge of these are like, we’re tired of this.

So we don’t want this. We want to make a movie where we’re the heroes and, uh, this is our subject matter and let’s go forward with it

Craig: even more than it just being about like, Oh, what we need a black hero. Like just outside of that context, like, why can’t there just be a movie. With mostly black people, like, yeah, exactly.

Right. Why, why is that such a challenging concept? Or why was it, but like you said before, it’s like Hollywood was like, Hmm. You know, who might be interested in watching movies, black people, maybe we should make some black people movies. Like how is that just dawning on people? Like, that’s why it makes me somewhat uncomfortable even talk about, I’m glad that things are getting better.

And I really do think. That things are getting better, but with the events that have transpired recently in America, you know, last summer, With George Floyd and the black lives matter movement. It was just so eye opening to me because in the wake of president Obama’s presidency, I just really thought that we had moved so far as a culture, a way from those stupid.

Racist beliefs and actions and traditions and, and, and then things I’m puzzled because I don’t know if things changed or if things had never changed as much as I thought that they had. And it’s been disciplined. Pointing, frankly, gosh, I don’t want to get this. This podcast is isn’t it? Yeah. This pike and this podcast is be fun and entertaining.

I don’t want to make it too serious or, or bring people down, but. Personally, I’ve just been very disappointed in America as a civilization and a culture in terms of race relations. And it’s made me very sad and it’s made me do a lot of self-reflection because I’ve always considered myself to be a progressive, you know, minded person and, and see that so much hate and, and.

Prejudice and discrimination still exists all around me. Whereas I’ve kind of been, I guess, had my head in the clouds a little bit thinking that things were better than they are. It makes me feel guilty, but more than that, because it’s not about me, it just makes me want to be better. And so I’ve done a lot of self-reflection and have tried to recognize ways that.

I can be more proactive. And that’s one of the things that we talked about, you know, folks, I’ll be really honest with you when Todd proposed this. I said, bro, I don’t know. You know, like I ju I just don’t know that we are the people. To tackle something like this. And, and Todd said, well, but you’re a literature teacher.

You deal with this kind of stuff all the time. And I do, I just, I just, I worry so much. About my own ignorance and, and exposing it because I do, I want to be proactive and I do want to be an advocate and I do want to be an ally. And I just worry that I’m gonna, like you said, put my foot in my mouth or say something.

That I shouldn’t because I can’t, I cannot, nor will I ever be able to speak to the black experience. I can’t. So the only thing that I can do is, you know, speak from my own experience and hope that people know that I have the best of intentions. Yes. While we talk about this silly movie, which ultimately.

Is, you know, just, it just it’s, it’s just Dracula, but he’s black. Like that’s

Todd: really well. And actually that’s, what’s kind of great about the movie. I think it is what it is. I guess it’s for better, for worse. If you really like Dracula and you really like the Dracula story and you’ll want to see another version of it, this will be a fun movie for

Craig: you.

Well, and if you like the hammer films, I feel like this is, is much in line with those it’s though it’s set in an urban setting. It feels very much like those hammer pictures, it’s kind of traditional storytelling. There’s really nothing unexpected here. And in fact, you know, like I said, it’s, I’m so glad that they inserted that.

Opening scene in Transylvania with Dracula and included that part about, you know, wanting to stop the slave trade and then Dracula himself being a racist. Totally. Lucy’s the slave trade

Todd: slavery has mattered. I believe.

Craig: Barbara is from the standpoint of the slave,

Todd: perhaps intriguing and delightful for mine, I would willingly pay for so beautiful. In addition to my household, as your delicious

Craig: wife.

Oh no. In South France, it is a compliment for a man of my station to look with

Todd: desire.

Craig: The Prince who is very unreasonable is not the right word, but diplomatic, like he carries himself very well.

Todd: He’s gentlemen. Yeah.

Craig: He’s a very much gentlemen and has been very much a gentlemen in his dealings with Dracula.

And, but, and then even when he’s in. Salted. Like he makes it clear that he takes that as insult, but he just says, we’ll be going now. And it’s established right away. It’s, it’s a tragic love story. And I have to say, okay, we should talk about this since it’s a horror podcast. First Dracula says you’re not going anywhere.

And he calls in some henchmen and these henchmen start, uh, fighting with Manuel day and Dracula kind of holds the wife. Back, but then like the brides of Dracula come in and I love the vampire design in this it’s classic it’s classic vampire design. It’s very much old school, very, you know, hammer almost, even, even.

Uh, huh, it looks, it looks great. It’s super traditional, but it looks great. They come in and Dracula bites, Manuel de and, and curses him and gives him this whole long speech about how you’re going to be damned to have this blood lust forever. But I’m going to lock you in this coffin so you can never satisfy your thirst.

And then he. Tells the wife, I’m going to lock you in here and you can be comforted by his cries from inside the coffin until you die. But it’s established much like in Dracula that it’s also kind of this tragic romance, this tragic love story. Um, and it follows that same beat when he ends up coming back.

There’s a woman that he encounters right away who. It’s played by the same actress clearly is the embodiment of his old love. And that’s right from the source material. And that’s the thrust of the movie. It is. Yeah. It’s so traditional everything else. I don’t know, it’s almost secondary to the very traditional elements of the story.

And it’s, it’s compelling. It’s not a great movie, but it’s as compelling as any of the other hundreds

Todd: I’ve seen was, you know, it’s funny that you say that because I sat down, it is rated PG, by the way, there’s a little bit of blood, but not much, you know, it’s just vampires biting each other. So I sat down and watched it with my wife and.

One thing that I mentioned to her, I was like, you know, as I was kind of watching this movie, I was getting bored because it is a little bit more of a drama, you know, than anything else. And the action’s not high, but I said, you know what? I guess that’s Dracula. Oh yeah. It comes out at night kind of stalking and seductive and whatever it takes his time, maybe he gets invited into the house.

Maybe he doesn’t, but he can’t, unless you invite him in. And then, and then the morning comes and then for, you know, the next 15, 20 minutes, it’s a bunch of people talking. Because it’s daytime, Dracula’s sleeping until nighttime comes again. And then Dracula’s, you know, the threat again somehow, but it’s just always, they always end up being very talky plotty type movies, heavy drama, heavy, heavy plot, trying to figure out where is he?

Oh, there’s another victim. Let’s examine the victim. Now let’s figure out, you know, I mean, They’re kind of like that. And so this movie is really no different, I think from a lot of those other Dracula movies in its pacing. And again, a little bit in its tone, the actor who plays Dracula, William Marshall, he is a classically trained Shakespearian actor, mostly on the stage.

He started on Broadway in 1944 in 1950. He understudied was Boris Karloff. As captain hook and the Broadway production of Peter pan, I didn’t even know Boris Karloff was captain hook and the Broadway production of Peter pan. Um, but he’s most well-known for playing Othello on stage in at least six different stage productions.

And has probably, I think to this day is regarded as maybe one of the best Othello’s of, of all time.

Craig: I can see that he has a very commanding presence. In fact, I would say that based on my limited. Experience with him in this movie. I would say that maybe he’s more suited for the stage. Yeah, he has that kind of presence.

Yeah. He’s very stagey and like dig in there. So like when he comes back and he eventually finds her name, Uh, was Luva in the past. It’s Tina in our present day, which is in the seventies. Eventually he kind of woos her. It doesn’t take very much, she’s clearly drawn to him, but eventually they come back together and they have scenes.

Where they kiss and eventually make love. Now there’s not a sex scene. We just see them post coitus. But, um, in those scenes where they kiss, it was cringy to me really was there was no, no chemistry or passion at all. Like. Like, let’s just kind of close the lips, mash our face.

Todd: It’s almost like the camera knew that too.

Cause it would just kind of stay behind one of their heads. So you couldn’t even really see it.

Craig: But that said he, he does have. Uh, a very theatrical presence that almost makes him, uh, it kind of makes him stand out in this movie. Well, but I guess that makes sense. I mean, he’s supposed to be from the 18 hundreds, 17 hundreds or whatever. So he would have a different effect than modern

Todd: people that the kind of classical Bela Lugosi vampire.

Anyway, you know, he’s a, he’s a gentleman above all things. He’s also six foot five. So, I mean, he literally towers above everybody in this movie and you don’t always notice it, you know, based on the camera angles, but in some of these fight scenes, when he comes across them, it’s like, it’s like the tall man, you know, he just comes up to him with his hand and around their neck and lifts them up off the ground and just shuts people around.

And by the way, the fight scenes are pretty bad. I mean, ultimately I kind of want to, if I’m going to talk about like the cinematography as a whole and the. Aging of the S the scenes and all that. I do think it’s pretty wanting in the technical department right there. I didn’t find the fight scenes terribly convincing or, or really thrilling.

There’s a chase scene in there. That’s like, Ugh, no, it’s not even exciting. And so, yeah, there’s, there’s, it has these kinds of problems where I don’t feel like the movie really elevate really. Almost never has like a moment where you’re kind of like, Oh, okay, cool. Like there’s something exciting happening.

Craig: Well, and it’s a mystery kind of, you know, black I’m a wall day. There are several things that I want to talk about. You know, like I said, the plot is, so I don’t want to say non-essential because you know, it’s a movie you want to plot, but if you know the story of Dracula, it’s, it’s pretty straightforward, just set in an urban place.

But there are things that. I found interesting. And one of those things that I found interesting is the way that black ULA gets to Los Angeles. I love this. So apparently, you know, after the. Scenes in the beginning, in the 18 hundreds and 17 hundreds, whatever it is, then we jump to modern day, still in Transylvania, where apparently a real estate agent is trying to sell off Dracula’s estate because Dracula and his gang have been killed years and years ago by van Helsing.

And they’re trying to sell off as a state. And I guess they’re having difficulty selling it off. I don’t know. So these. Two gay guys from Los Angeles are. Buying this property. And like, they make it, the, the realtor like reveals that this was Dracula’s place and all these bad things happen there. And they exploit that say, Oh, well, in that case, I think we need to re negotiate a lower price.

And the guy’s like, okay, whatever, just take it. And so they negotiate the lower price and as they’re signing the contract, one of the guys. You idiot it. Yeah. Yeah. He dumb ass. Like we’re going to make a fortune off of all of this. Literally feel the legend is yeah. The Dracula legend is huge in America.

And the guy’s like, uh, no, it’s not a legend. It was real. And they’re like, okay. What I found interesting about it was, whereas this is a blaxploitation movie. I was shocked to see a representation of one. And they are established as a couple and to an interracial gay couple in 1972. Like you couldn’t have gotten away with that in a mainstream movie.

And I think that, that goes to show that where there is. Prejudice and intolerance for one thing that extends to other things. Yeah. And when you tackle that head on you open the door, not just to the group that you’re focusing on, but to other marginalized groups. As well, um, which is great. And of course, these guys are very a feminine and stereotypical, but it didn’t bother me.

And I have to, you know, I, I don’t want to draw parallels too much because again, it’s not the same and I cannot speak from a place of oppression. The black people can speak from, but I wonder if my feelings about that kind of representation of homosexual people as a homosexual man, I was happy to see it.

It didn’t bother me so much that it was stereotypical. I was just glad to be invited to, does that make sense?

Todd: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. I

Craig: don’t know. So anyway, I just found it interesting and, and it wasn’t like, it wasn’t a big deal. Like nobody really made nobody made any big deal about it yet.

Like later after they come back and they open the thing and they both get bit and eventually come back. Everybody thinks they’re dead, but they eventually come back as vampires. Yes.

Todd: There’s some comments made we’ve been on that

Craig: missing battery board. Nothing, no fingerprints, no signs of right-hand Andre, not a thing without hell is Wanda dead.

They call them fat eggs and it’s um, yeah, several times. Yeah. And, and I don’t like that. I don’t like that word, but I also understand. That it was a different time and people used those words just as in the movie. I don’t think any white people use it, but black people use the N word in this movie too. It was a different time.

I don’t like it, but I understand that it was a different time and it just didn’t. In that context, it didn’t really bother me. In fact, I was actually surprised by how casually it was presented. Like they just are this gay couple there’s it just

Todd: is. Yeah. You know, it wasn’t laid out for you in a big dramatic way.

It was just that’s. Yeah. No special attention was really called to it. Except for the fact of course, like you said, it’s a bit of a stereotypical portrayal. But, you know, I mean, there are people like that too. Right. So it’s okay. Yeah. So Bobby, I think Bobby and Billy are the two, uh, Bobby I thought was like a black Richard Simmons.

That’s what he looks like to me.

Craig: Take the, the

Afro.

Todd: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s something about his smile too. I don’t know. Anyway, um, Bobby, uh, is laying in repose and they get visited by a Dr. Gordon Thomas and, uh, two women who turn out to be his wife and then his wife’s sister, his wife has Michelle and his sister is Tina. I guess they know Bobby somehow just from

Craig: the neighborhood.

I think. He,

Todd: uh, being a police, they call him doctor, I guess he’s like a police detective. He’s like, um, like the CSI guy or whatever. Yeah. Like,

Craig: um,

Todd: yeah, he’s a little curious about how he died. And, um, the coroner men says, well, at the family’s request, we haven’t embalmed him yet, but you know, I did try to cover up these odd neck wounds.

And so he says neck wounds and he looks over and he sees the neck wounds again, this is this sort of typical vampire thing. And that’s, so that sets him off. Sort of on his quest after the second person shows up dead, who is a cab driver? I loved that

Craig: part.

Todd: That was great.

Craig: That was mama while they sees them visit.

And he sees Tina who looks just like his wife. So he follows her and she gets scared and she runs away and he chases her. She drops her purse, then like she gets away, but he’s running across the street and he gets hit by a cab and the. The cab driver is a woman, a black woman. She gets out she’s like you dummy, what were you doing?

Like, it was just such fun need dialogue, but then he kind of vamps out on our a little bit, or at least starts like looking at. Thirsty or whatever. Just got to be around here where, I mean, I bet you she’s worried right now. I’m looking for you, but why don’t you the bag over me and go get, I bet you, I bet she’s called the hospital now.

Listen, take your hands off of me. I don’t know. The interaction was so. Humorous to me. And he does end up biting her and then she’s dead or undead or whatever. The

Todd: most sexily dressed cab driver I’ve ever seen. Yes. Yeah.

Craig: It was hot and sassy. I

Todd: liked her. She was hot. Yeah. She ended up dying, which is interesting too, because.

Uh, you know, there are little moments in this movie that continue to kind of remind you and kind of push your buttons of the racism. Like you said, I don’t think it’s ever gone as far as anybody using the, any white person using the N word. But interestingly enough, the coroner, when they examine the body, one of the first comments he makes, when he looks down at her detective Gordon, by the way is black.

Um, the coroner is not, he asked me she’s

Craig: looking for something, you know what I mean? Looking for something.

Todd: Yeah, Sam, get me a cup of coffee with you. All right. I can take

Craig: a hint. Uh,

Todd: and I thought, Oh yeah, that’s interesting. You know, it’s this kind of plays with this notion that, well, a, you know, a woman who dresses up in a quote unquote super sexy way is looking for guys to get on her, but also like black women in the U S have historically also been hyper-sexualized.

And I felt like there was a little bit of that, you know, kind of nudging right there. There they’re little comments like that. That kind of remind you. Oh yeah. There’s. There’s like racism going on here, even though the white characters and the black characters in this movie, like in the police station are, are clearly working together.

There doesn’t seem to be any of that kind of tension. These little comments undermine that. Right.

Craig: I just think that that’s such an excellent. Commentary on society. And I doubt that they were going for social commentary. It’s just a representation of how things were and probably how things are like Dr. E you are using his last name.

We’re going to confuse people because I always called him Dr. Thomas cause everybody, his first name is Thomas. Um, but he works closely with this white detective and they seem to have a very solid rapport, you know, like mutual respect for one another. But when Thomas, you know, he’s talking about all of these different deaths and he’s like, I know they’re connected somehow.

I know there’s some connection and his white friend is like, but a lot of Panther

Todd: activity,

Craig: legged Panthers, come on, Jack. Don’t cop out. To get interior decorators and a lady cab driver Panthers. Come on. Uh, no. Why? Why wouldn’t you just automatically think, but like, I just feel like it’s that dynamic, like the white guy just automatically jumps to, Oh well it’s gang related or it’s black Panther related or what?

Like, they just jumped to these racist. Conclusions, but I also liked that there was a strong black voice there to say, no, you idiot. What is wrong with you?

Todd: It’s funny. I didn’t realize, uh, until later that, um, I had to kind of put all this together because I was still trying to work out the relationship with the girls. It’s just not spelled out for you right at the beginning, but actually his wife. Also works with him. So here she is,  again, to see a black person in a role like this just wasn’t that common this time as well.

So she, by the way, she’s gorgeous that woman, I want to be my girlfriend. And, uh, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that. The whole movie. Her eyes are piercing and her name is Denise, Nicholas, and she’s still with us. And she was working all the way up until 2004. And she has a gosh, a huge filmography of television and movies.

That pretty much, I mean, he, she did a couple TV series before this movie, but then after this movie, she was doing a lot more. I think this movie had a lot to do with boosting her career a bit. I mean, she’s like in the love boat and Benson and all the, I mean, she looked familiar to me, so I got to know. Oh, and then, um, in 1990 there was a bill Cosby movie called ghost dad, and she was Joan in ghost dad.

So. Yeah, she probably would look familiar to you too. And then I’ve got to say that the chief, uh, his name is Gordon Pinsent and he is probably the most accomplished of everybody here. He’s also still with us and still working. He’s got 150 credits to his name and, uh, he’s very recognizable. At least I thought he was, and he’s been.

All over television and movies, just like anything you can imagine this guy’s been in. So it’s interesting that this movie as low budget, as cheap as it was still ended up with these stars that either were already making names for themselves at the time, or would therefore then go on to make some names for themselves.

Yeah, I

Craig: saw that too. I looked, you know, I didn’t know any of these actors. I thought some of them looked somewhat familiar, but I, you know, I looked at their pages, their Wikipedia pages and, and most of them, the lead people that I looked at had, you know, dozens, if not, you know, a hundred or more credits, these are solid working actors.

Um, w one of the things that I thought was fine. Okay. So basically what happens. At this point is Manuel de is, is in pursuit of Tina and Dr. Thomas is investigating the murders. And I think that this is really kind of stupid.

Todd: Yeah,

Craig: everybody, all of our main characters just happened to be. Super close knit.

Like exactly like there in a group of like five or six people who are around each other all the time, Manuel, they goes to the club that they hang out at and meets up with them. Tina’s immediately. Enamored with him for, I guess, because of like, what do they call that would have vampires have thrall or

Todd: what it’s the only thing you could have, you could say.

I mean, why else would she be so enamored with this guy? Right, right,

Craig: right. This weird, much older than her man who walks around wearing a Cape. Um, But they’re all very, very closely tied to one another. When I said they all meet at this club, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the musical.

Numbers. Yes. Um, there, there are musical performances in this club, these like R and B numbers and, and the score is very like funk and R and B too, which is typical as I understand it, of these movies. Um, and it’s good, you know, I like it. I thought that the first. Time, we were in the club and they basically gave us a full live music video.

I thought it was a little excessive. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the music. I thought the music was great. I just thought it was like, okay, I get it. I don’t

Todd: need to see them.

Craig: Um, yeah, but they’re all very closely knit and there’s a photographer in the club, like one of the old fashioned kind of like cigarette girls.

Who’s like in like a skimpy. Kind of costume and she’s going around taking pictures and she takes pictures. She takes a picture of Tina and mama Waldo is like trying to get away from her. Like he doesn’t want his picture taken and she goes back home to develop the pictures. And I love me a dark room scene, by the way.

I just love that red lighting. I love it realizes that, uh, he doesn’t appear in the images and the pictures and she hears something that’s going on. And this, I think. There are two, but this I think was my favorite shot of the movie where her, her dark room, isn’t really a room. It’s just a curtain off place in her apartment.

And she hears something and she throws open the curtains and mama while they is standing there in full vamp mode. And when he vamps out, he like grows like. Pork chop sideburns and a beard. It’s kind of weird

Todd: eyebrows. Yeah.

Craig: But he’s, he’s standing there with his arms outstretched and I don’t know how they did it.

I don’t know if they did it with a Dolly or if he just stood on a skateboard and they pulled it or what, but he just very quickly glides towards her very menacing and she’s screaming and it’s, you know, in this red light. And I actually found that moment, which is maybe all of them. Three seconds legitimately scary.

If I had seen that when I was a kid, I think I might’ve had knife

Todd: Ruth. You, there are a few jump scares in this movie. They’re not all effective, but that was probably the, one of the most effective ones I thought.

Craig: Yeah. There’s another one where like they’ve got the cab driver. On ice in the morgue. Eventually Dr. Thomas figures out that they’re vampires, he digs up one of the gay guys, one of the gay guys bodies went missing, but the other gay guy was, was married or not married.

Um,

and, and they dug him up. And as soon as they dug him up, he jumped out and he was a vampire and they staked him right away. And so. Uh, Dr. Thomas knows it’s vampires now. And so he calls the Morgan, tells the. Dumb more attendance and pull the cab driver off ice, which he does, but he doesn’t lock the door as he was adamantly instructed to do.

And so like, while he’s on the phone with somebody else, that lady bursts out of the room, that she is screaming and, you know, again with like her arms out and all vamped out, I thought that was scary too. That was the second. My second favorite part.

Todd: That scene was awesome. And actually the director, William Crane talked about that in the documentary.

He said, you know, when he was filming this. Sometimes he wasn’t getting a lot of help from people. And when he walked into that police station, he saw this really long hallway. He was like, I need a fast speed camera, which is basically a slow motion. Camera pulls the poles, the film through really quickly at a high frame rate, which then you play back at a slower frame rate.

And it gives you slow motion. He kept asking for an asking for an asking for it and they weren’t going to give it to him. And then on the day that they went to film that suddenly another van pulled up and offloaded a high-speed camera for him. And it’s because up top they started seeing the dailies and liking what they saw.

So they decided to give him that. And it’s a great effect right? In slow motion. It was

Craig: really cool. Yeah. There’s kind of a cool showdown in like, okay, so they, the police spot, Bobby, who was the gay guy whose body went missing and they follow him and they track him down to like this abandoned warehouse.

It’s not abandoned. I guess it’s just a warehouse. It’s where big gay guys had had all of Dracula’s stuff. Taken, they went in there and I expected they were going to just find him, but they had talked about how vampirism spreads like wildfire when they get in there. They do find Bobby, but there’s also like probably a dozen or more other vampires.

Again, looking fantastic. It’s old-school makeup and like big fangs. And the makeup is just a lot of shading and green and blue and stuff. Yeah. And, and like really highlighting the cheekbones and making them, you know, look exactly. Um, but it looks fantastic and I love it. And there’s this big showdown in a big fight and they ended up throwing unlit oil lamps on the floor that just then,

okay. And I don’t know, but I mean, it was cool. It was cool to see all these vampires running around and golfed and flames. Yeah. Eventually the guy figures out that it’s Memorial day, who he knows because he’s, he’s dating his sister in

Todd: law. Not only does he know, but his sister knew a long time. His sister-in-law knew a long time ago.

I mean, cause he goes over to her apartment and through his charms or whatever tells him everything. He just lays it all out in one long monologue and like this crazy thing. Yeah. I’m actually from the 17 hundreds and I was his Prince and I went to see Dracula. I mean, he lays out everything and my, why don’t you feel it too?

You know, and all that. And then she was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Then they like have sex. And so she’s smitten with him, but they have. All started camping out together at the chief’s house. So that has been kind of keeping the sister separated from him. And I’m not sure he knows exactly where she is or at least he doesn’t get to her once they

Craig: figure it all out.

Like, uh, mama Waldo and Tina are together in her apartment. But Dr. Thomas in with the police and Manuel de fleas, and like, they try to talk to Tina. They’re like, Listen, I don’t care how you feel about him. He’s a bad guy. He’s killed a bunch of people and like, she feels kind of conflicted for a second, but then she’s in her room and we’ve also seen the black ULA can turn into a bat and fly around.

He’s like up on top of a building and I guess he reaches out to her. Telepathically and tells her to meet him. And she does, she goes out the window and they meet up and they’re going to re I, it just seems like they’re going to run away together. Dr. Thomas and the police somehow track them down to this old building.

I don’t know, like. The whole building’s not underground, but the part of it that they’re in is, and it

Todd: looks chemical facility. I imagine they, they wanted a big Gothic type end sequence for this, but of course, to make it urban, what’s the most Gothic kind of like passageways and crazy stuff. You could find.

It’s it’s this big, underground chemical processing facility that more or less looks like, uh, you know, we’re, Freddie has his showdown in all these pipes and. Ramps and staircases and stuff everywhere.

Craig: Yeah, really? Mama Waldy and Tina, they’re just trying to get away, but they’re running away and a cop starts shooting at them and shoots Tina in the back.

Like, yeah, dude,

Todd: that was messed up. It was

Craig: messed up. And I felt it, it was sad and like mama, while they kneels down over and he’s like, do you know

if this is the only way you will be with me? And he bites her bit while he’s biting her? It looked to me like she died. Like he had tried to turn her, but it was too late. And that’s what it seems like happened because then he stands up and he yells Dr. Thomas, uh, I curse you and everybody else that’s helping you.

And everybody who is in this building will die. And then he goes around and, and starts picking them off one by one. And I don’t remember everything he does. He electrocutes one, he throws one off. Like a big ledge

Todd: and he plays donkey Kong on another one, tossing barrels from the top of

Craig: and meanwhile, Dr. Thomas and his police chief. Friend are looking around and they find a coffin and they assume he’s in it. So Dr. Thomas opens it while the police chief like has a stake held up above his head. And as soon as they open it, he stabs the stake down and it’s not mama Waldy it’s vampire Tina.

So apparently the change did work. But now she’s staked and she’s dead at which point mama, while they shows back up and he’s like, well, I don’t have any reason to live.

Todd: I was kind of lame, right. I mean, it was a little pathetic. I mean, I get it, I get the whole notion, but he just gives up and, uh, I guess he would he’s didn’t want to be a vampire.

This isn’t Dracula, right? This is black ULA and a Uganda gave up his chance and he climbed up the staircase. And actually, I thought it was a pretty good, well edited sequence of shots with the sun, him. And they did these interesting things with the sunlight. It was one of the more RD points of the movie, but at the ad, he just collapses at the top of the staircase on the ground, outside in the middle of this industrial facility.

It was so sadly anticlimactic and maybe that’s. The point that it would just kind of be that pathetic. But, um, he, yeah, he dissolves away. His face kind of dissolves away and them to a bone and then we get the end credits and that’s it. I, you know, like I said before, the movie was boring at times, but I think a it’s because of seeing.

Dracula story. I know what’s going to happen more or less. And then B Dracula is kind of a low key story anyway. So, uh, you know, would naturally be action packed and filled with a, with, with a lot of scares all the time. And then, you know, this other part of it was. How quickly he just seduces Tina and she just goes along with it.

You know, she’s just like little silly. I mean, that happens so early in the movie that this point then when it gets to her having this mental power over her and he’s a bat and then she’s kind of wandering around and they’re trying to find her before Dracul can get to her. I was kind of like, eh, let them get her, you know, it seems like they’d be happy together there.

She knows what she’s getting into. They’re both kind of fine

Craig: with it. She’s a grown woman. Yeah,

Todd: exactly. So that tension really wasn’t there for me. And so, um, it just became a tragic love story, I guess you

Craig: could call it. And all of, all of that, you know, the seduction of this reincarnation of the timeless love or whatever, I mean, that’s true to the store to Bram.

Stoker’s. Source material. Arguably, it’s more nuanced in the novel, but there’s no nuance here, but I mean, it’s, it’s not necessarily any more believable. So yeah, I mean it had its silly elements overall. I just thought. It was, as far as movies go, it was fine. I didn’t love it. I, you know, it, it felt very much a product of its time.

It felt like an older movie that, like you said, the cinematography is pretty pedestrian. There’s nothing special to talk about it. There’s not much by way of effects. I liked the makeup, but it wasn’t like it was. Extraordinary. Um, there were some interesting things, uh, that they did with lighting. I think what’s most notable is, you know, the fact that, uh, this is, uh, uh, a black film starring primarily black actors with a black director.

And in that respect very different than. Other things that were happening in 1972 and four, I was going to say surprisingly, but that’s not what I meant. People were surprised at the time. That it did very well. It was one of the highest grossing films of 1972. Um, it was very successful and critically well received for the most part.

Todd: It was, I think it was a mixed bag on the critical, but yeah, a lot of people, a number of critics at the time, you know, were really impressed by it. But I mean, I think it’s worth pointing out. It can’t be that high grossing without white people going to see it too, you know? I mean, it wasn’t just. And, and it was the true of a lot of these movies, big reason why they were so successful as, Hey, it turned out, you know, what maybe white people also would like to see these, this kind of story and these kinds of characters.

And so, uh, it really was groundbreaking in that way. And, um, mama wall day ended up being the first black vampire to appear in films. So it is it’s pretty historical. And then he went on. I mean, I don’t know if you recognized him, but, uh, did you ever watch PeeWee’s Playhouse growing up? On Saturday morning.

Yes.

I think of cartoons, buddy.

Craig: Clarius I knew I recognized him. I missed that because his list of things he’s been in was so long, I skimmed through it. I totally missed that. Hilarious. You know, that ultimately how fortunate we are that, uh, These types of movies, regardless of their exploitative nature paved the way for not just black people, but people of color, nonwhite people to have a place in Hollywood and cinema in general.

And we have a long way to go. As far as race relations, go. In the United States. I’m so sad to say it it’s embarrassing, frankly, but we have a long way to go. But I do think that progress is, is hopefully being made and will continue to be made. And there are a lot of prominent names in cinema and in the entertainment industry.

Uh, a lot of black voices, voices of people of color. We are seeing, you know, some reemergence of horror films because that’s really, you know what I watch, I, I’m not going to speak for other genres, but that, that are made by people of color, focus on people of color, Jordan Peele, you know, with get out and us and, and he’s got all kinds of other.

Projects in the works. You know, I feel like he’s trailblazing in that way, but he’s not alone. It’s necessary. Uh, there needs to be that kind of representation. And it’s not just about representation. It’s about the fact that. People of different cultures and races and backgrounds have voices and have something to say, and it’s not just, they’re not just black movies, they’re movies and the whitest of white guys like you and I they’re there for our consumption too.

And they should be, and they need to be, and, and, you know, it just makes things feel more inclusive. And the more of that, that we can get. The better. So I hope to continue to see that kind of, um, representation and that’s that’s for any minority group, any disenfranchised group, not necessarily just people of color, but specifically people of color.

I want to see more of it. I know that most people do. Um, and I’m glad that it’s happening. Well,

Todd: we need more stories in the world, period, as many, right? And is widely varied as possible from these stories. We gain perspective. I don’t know how true this is, but there are studies, obviously there was a pretty famous study that was done fairly recently.

I read about a few years ago and I would like to think that this is true anyway, because I am a reader. It said that people who read. Uh, tend to be more empathetic postulating. Why that might be is if you actually literally spend time in someone else’s head in someone else’s story and someone else’s narrative for awhile, you can begin to see things from their perspective, perhaps.

And then that opens you up to the ability to do that on a regular basis. And so yeah, the more stories we have from the widest variety of places we have, I think just in general, as a population, as a race, as a human race, right. The more empathetic we can be and maybe solve a lot of these problems. So I

Craig: I agree. A hundred percent.

Todd: All right. Well, thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with a friend. You can find us. Online, two guys that read forties at.com, just Google us two guys in the chainsaw. You can also find our Facebook page and our Twitter feed, send us requests and, uh, just drop us a line.

Let us know what you will want to hear and what you thought of our episode until next time. I’m Todd and I’m Craig with two guys and a chainsaw.


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