Search Results for blacula
Behold Blacula! America’s first African American vampire! In 1972’s Blacula, Prince Mamuwalda (William Marshall) is turned by Dracula into a ‘living fiend’ and entombed for nearly two centuries until he is unwittingly released in modern-day Los Angeles, where he goes all Fatal Attraction on Vonetta McGee’s Tina, who could be the reincarnation of his long-dead wife. Resurrected a year later, in 1973’s Scream Blacula Scream, Blacula encounters Pam Grier’s voodoo priestess who could be the answer to bringing peace to his soul…
Warm, young bodies will feed his hunger, and hot, fresh blood his awful thirst!
In the wave of Blaxploitation films made in the US in the 1970s, came the unlikely horror Blacula (1972) – the first and best of the 15 black horror titles to emerge out of the era. Though largely ignored by critics, Blacula went on to become Variety’s Top 50 Movies of 1972 and is now regarded as a cult Soul Cinema classic, alongside the likes of Shaft (1971), Trouble Man (1972) and Coffy (1973). Despite the few genuine chills on offer and a romantic reincarnation subplot that’s indebted to Universal’s 1932 horror The Mummy, Blacula is a hip and happening horror that’s not strictly played for cheesy laughs, despite its tongue-in-cheek title. There’s a police crime thriller vibe going on (director William Craine had previously done an episode of TV’s Mod Squad), while the script relishes in taking bites out of racial prejudice and homophobia (a gay interracial couple must be a cinema first).
Suave basso profondo thespian William Marshall (he was King of Cartoons on Pee Wee’s Playhouse in the 1980s) brings grandeur, menace and sympathy to the role of the vampirised African prince terrorising south LA’s notorious Watts neighbourhood in a Bela Lugosi-styled tux and cape, while putting the bite on jive-talking pimps and drug dealers like some John Shaft with fangs. The funkadelic R&B score is by the legendary Gene Page, which was later released as a soundtrack album (which is quite the collector’s item these days). Director Craine’s next black horror was 1976’s Dr Black, Mr Hyde. Love Letters singer Ketty Lester makes a cameo, while AIP regular Elisha Cook makes nifty use of a metal hook hand.
The Black Prince of Shadows Stalks the Earth Again!
Having turned to dust and bones at the end of the first film, Blacula rose again in the rushed-in 1973 sequel Scream Blacula Scream by a voodoo priest (Richard Lawson), seeking revenge on his rival (played by Soul Cinema queen Pam Grier). Believing Grier’s priestess Lisa can end his curse, Blacula becomes fixated on her with fatal results – she ends up ends up driving a stake into a voodoo doll replica of him. Though not as successful as the original, Scream Blacula Scream looks great (check out the 1970s threads on the cool vamps!) with more blood and shocks, particularly when the undead take on the police in the film’s climactic scene. These creepy moments are courtesy of Robert Kelljan, who also directed AIP’s surprisingly scary Count Yorga films, starring Robert Quarry as another vampire out of sorts in modern LA. Both Blacula and Yorga are two my favourite 1970s movie monsters, and I’ve always imagined how great a sequel would have been in which the urbane bloodsucking duo got to do a Freddy vs Jason styled face off. Sadly, that’s just a pipe-dream. However they have been immortalised as collectible action figures, so maybe someone could do a stop-motion short one day soon (anyone?) Next up for a HD resurrection – the two Yorga films, please!
THE UK DUAL FORMAT RELEASE
The Eureka! Classics release includes brand new 1080p high-definition transfers and progressive DVD encodes; plus optional English subtitles. The picture is a little grainy on my system (especially in the night scenes), but the sound is wicked. The only extras are trailers for both films and introductions from Kim Newman; however there is a very informative booklet with neat articles by Josiah Howard, author of Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide; and includes some reprints of original lobby cards and posters. This release is a real must-have for fans of schlocky 70s horror.
Unsung Horrors | From the makers of 70s Monster Memories comes another ‘giant’ must-read for Monster Kids
From the team behind last year’s sell-out tome 70s Monster Memories, Unsung Horrors is the latest film book for genre fans that’s being snapped by collectors as I write. Covering more than 200 (see the full list below) neglected, unappreciated or forgotten horror and fantasy films from the silents to the 1970s, this labour of love has been written by fans for fans, and is designed with a fantastic nostalgic nod over 448 pages packed with stills, posters and lobby cards. And to top it all, it comes with the blessing of Gremlins director Joe Dante.
Now, having contributed three articles to the book myself (The House That Screamed, The Last Man on Earth and Scream and Scream Again), I might be a little biased in saying that this is a MUST-HAVE in your cult film library. But don’t just take it for me, here’s what others have been saying… and once you have read these, you’ll find a handy link to purchase your copy while stocks last. And according to the book’s editor, Eric McNaughton, a second volume is currently being put together. Joy, oh joy!
‘This lavish new oversized softcover from the publishers of the British magazine We Belong Dead…. starts with Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye and goes on from there. Foreword by Joe Dante, no less, and the delightful cover art by Paul Garner makes the package literally irresistible.’ Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog
‘Simply put, if I were able to create something as worthy as Unsung Horrors I could die a happy man, secure in the knowledge that I introduced fans new and old to a wealth of gems they may never have otherwise encountered. Unsung Horrors cleared away decades of cobwebs and made me feel the same as I did way back in 1973 when I was eight years old and first saw A Pictorial History of Horror Movies.’ Ginger Nuts of Horror
‘The writers of these essays offer something that can’t be bottled or replicated through research (though there’s plenty of that as well): the collected knowledge of growing up watching genre movies. That horror fans should treat themselves to a copy of Unsung goes without saying. The best writers don’t require you to come in with a pre-existing love for a subject but, through their writing, spark an interest you never knew you had. That’s Unsung Horrors.’ That’s Not Current
‘In addition to well-researched retrospectives of films lurking in the darkest annals of horror history, there is an introduction from a man who needs no introduction – Joe Dante. The book is a follow-up to their Rondo-nominated best-seller 70s Monster Memories, which is now almost impossible to purchase as every copy sold out. Unsung Horrors will only be available for a limited time as well, so if you’re interested in the history of our beloved genre’s overlooked gems, it’s an essential pick-up.’ Dread Central
‘Those of you who were lucky enough to snap up a copy …. Monster Memories will know what to expect here – pages and pages and pages of lurid loveliness, packed with amazing pictures and informative text filled with friendly enthusiasm for our favourite subject…..this is easily the film book of the year.’ The Dark Side
‘Unsung doesn’t necessarily mean unknown, so aficionados will probably recognize many of these titles from browsing video store shelves, devouring specialty genre magazines, or stumbling upon a trailer within the depths of YouTube. The question to ask is: how many have you actually seen? Drawing from my own experience, more than a few are the types of films I’ve sworn I’ve watched only to realize that I merely read a synopsis on the back of a VHS cover without having rented the damn thing. There are, of course, a myriad of reasons these titles never got a fair shake: lack of audience interest upon release; maligned by critics; considered a minor work in a filmmaker’s oeuvre; shoved into a chasm of distribution hell; or simply didn’t fit the mold of their respective eras and vanished from consciousness. The purpose of Unsung Horrors is to acquaint readers with these titles that have been buried in some manner by time and neglect, unearthed here by fellow discerning devotees. While most of the films are not masterpieces by any stretch, they are worthy of rediscovery, at least in the hearts of the contributors who are moved to convince you of their value. Many are, in fact, masterpieces, and there are good arguments presented here in defense of their reputations. The point is, even among horror fans, these films are rarely discussed, and this book is a wonderful way to provoke reappraisal‘. Chris Hallock, Diabolique Magazine (READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE)
ORDER HERE: http://unsunghorrors.co.uk/
HOW MANY HAVE YOU SEEN? | THE FULL LIST OF UNSUNG HORRORS
Seven Dead In The Cat’s Eye
Goke – Body Snatcher From Hell
And Soon The Darkness
Levres de Sang
Lake of Dracula
The Black Cat
All The Colours Of The Dark
Galtiki – The Immortal Monster
The 7th Victim
Blood and Roses
The Monkey’s Paw
The Lost Continent
The Black Panther
Curse Of The Faceless Man
The Face at the Window
Murders In The Zoo
The Long Hair Of Death
The Living Skeleton
Behemoth The Sea Monster
The Green Slime
The Projected Man
Diary Of A Madman
The Castle Of The Fly
Damned In Venice
The Face Of Fu Manchu
House Of Mystery
The Frozen Dead
The Ghost Of Frankenstein
Seven Footprints To Satan
Dracula Pere Et Fils
Les Raisins De La Mort
The Haunted House Of Horror
Crypt Of The Living Dead
Four Flies On Grey Velvet
The House That Screamed
Jack The Ripper
Curse Of The Devil
IT! The Terror From Beyond Space
In Search Of Dracula
Kill Baby Kill
The Return Of Dracula
Children Of The Damned
The Beast With Five Fingers
A Study In Terror
Legend Of The Werewolf
Doctor Blood’s Coffin
The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue
Day Of The Animals
The Shuttered Room
Lorna The Exorcist
Castle Of The Walking Dead
Man Made Monster
The Black Scorpion
Castle Of The Living Dead
Mother Rilley Meets The Vampire
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Vampire Bat
The Dark Eyes Of London
Mystery Of The Mary Celeste
Night Of The Seagulls
Atom Age Vampire
Race With The Devil
Cry Of The Werewolf
Werewolf Of London
The Perfume Of The Lady In Black
An Angel For Satan
The Devil Bat
The Black Belly Of The Tarantula
The Bat Whispers
Red Queen Kills 7 Times
Kingdom Of The Spiders
Revenge Of The Blood Beast
The Secret Of Dorian Gray
Horror Rises From The Tomb
The Loreley’s Grasp
The Snake Girl And The Silver-Haired Witch
Nothing But The Night
The Strange Door
The Virgin Of Nuremberg
The Legend Of Blood Castle
Devils Of Darkness
Murders In The Rue Morgue
The House With Laughing Windows
Who Can Kill A Child
The Alligator People
Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb
The Mask Of Fu Manchu
The House In Nightmare Park
Lizard In A Woman’s Skin
Terror Creatures From The Grave
The Last Man On Earth
The Devil Commands
The Legend Of Hell House
Scream And Scream Again
Twice Told Tales
The Undying Monster
Lady Morgan’s Vengance
The Student Of Prague
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock
Mill Of The Stone Women
Werewolf In A Girls’ Dormitory
The Fall Of The House Of Usher
Dr Pyckle And Mr Pryde
Le Testament Du Docteur Cordelier
The Dunwich Horror
Son Of Kong
The Queen Of Spades
The Hands Of Orlac
Tower Of Evil
Three Cases Of Murder
Murders In The Rue Morgue
What Have You Done To Solange
The Most Dangerous Game
Nightmare In Wax
Where Has Poor Mickey Gone..?
The Face Behind The Mask
The Naked Prey
Phantom Of The Paradise
The Devil’s Nightmare
Scream Blacula Scream
The Mummy’s Hand
El Baron Del Terror
The Curse Of The Living Corpse
The Incredible Melting Man
And Now The Screaming Starts
Damien Omen II
The Naked Jungle
House Of Horrors
The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake
The Man From Nowhere
Tombs Of The Blind Dead
Tower Of London
The Return Of The Vampire
One of my Top Five re-releases of 2015 has to be Arrow’s Blu-ray release of Jack Hill’s 1973 thriller Coffy, one the best Blaxploitation films of the era, and the one that turned Pam Grier into a cinematic icon.
‘This is the end of your life you motherfucking dope pusher’
LA nurse Flower Child Coffin (Pam Grier), aka Coffy, goes on a one-woman mission to take down those responsible for turn her little sister onto heroine and putting her honest cop friend Carter (William Elliott) in hospital. Posing as a junkie hooker and a high-class Jamaican escort, Coffy works her way into the inner circle of drug-dealing pimp King George (Robert DoQui), where she finds the level of corruption is much closer to home than she expected…
Coffy was a godsend part for exploitation actress Pam Grier. Her baddass vigilante was a landmark in 1970s cinema and redefined what it meant to be a powerful black woman on screen. As the street wise and fiercely independent hard-working nurse who isn’t unafraid to put her body and her life on the line to exact her own form of justice, she was the perfect modern, revolutionary heroine. And Grier brilliantly brought her to life.
The American International Pictures actioner was also a career boast for B-movie auteur and director for hire, Jack Hill, who had previously lensed two ‘chicks in chains’ grindhouse movies (both with Grier), as well as the Lon Chaney Jr cult curio, Spider Baby, and also shot the US scenes for Boris Karloff’s infamous Mexican horror quartet.
When Cleopatra Jones, AIP’s female Shaft project, ended up being picked up Warner Bros, AIP put Coffy together in just 18 days in a bid to beat them to the punch. Director Hill certainly delivered the goods, as audiences really dug the film. A follow-up, Foxy Brown, quickly followed, again with Grier in the lead, and Hill directing – and it was just as good.
Despite it’s grindhouse veneer, Coffy‘s sex and violence isn’t done solely for cheap thrills. There’s a strong morale code running under the surface, while the racial issues it touches on reflected what was going on in 1970s America – and still does today, particularly in the light of those events in St Louis and Baltimore. But its Hill’s street smart script and tight direction that sets this Blaxploitation feature apart.
But Coffy is also pure entertainment, with some great ‘guilty pleasure’ moments that stay with you forever, like the call-girl cat fight scene and Coffy hiding razor blades in her Afro. There’s also King George’s wicked fashions (he also gets his own theme tune) and the funky R&B Roy Ayers soundtrack (which peaked at No31 in the US charts in 1973). Oh, and let’s not forget THAT poster, which Tarantino called ‘the epitome of a great exploitation poster’. Grier followed this film with AIP’s Scream Blacula Scream, which also available on Blu-ray (click on the link for my review).
THE BLU-RAY RELEASE
Arrow’s director-approved presentation features a restored HD transfer (which looks fantastic btw) alongside an audio commentary with Jack Hill. Among the new interviews on this release is A Taste of Coffy, featuring Hill on making the film (19min), and The Baddest Chick in Town!, in which Pam Grier discusses the films and her inspiration behind the character (17min). Also included is an academic video essay on the Blaxploitation genre, image gallery, and a collector’s booklet, with new artwork packaging by Gilles Vranckx.
• Foxy Brown, director Jack Hill’s follow up to Coffy, is also out on Blu-ray from Arrow, along with the director’s Spider Baby and Pit Stop, which are also on Dual Format (DVD and Blu-ray). Click on the links for my reviews.
Ganja & Hess (1973) | Hailed and damned and hailed again! Bill Gunn’s cult masterpiece now on Blu-ray in the UK
Some marriages are made in heaven, others are made in hell!
While studying the ancient Mythria tribe of Africa, wealthy anthropologist Dr Hess Green (Duane Jones) is stabbed with a ceremonial dagger by his unstable new assistant George (Bill Gunn), endowing him with immortality and cursing him to drink human blood. Following George’s suicide, his sassy, no-nonsense wife Ganja (Marlene Clark) comes look for answers, but ends up finding a unexpected soul mate in Hess, which results in the couple’s ritualistic union. But when Hess finally decides to seek salvation in a bizarre act of self-exorcism, Ganja isn’t so willing to give up her newly acquired immortality…
‘One of the most literate, allegorical, and evasive of all horror films’
David Walker & Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog
Before you sit down to watch this, be warned! Ganja & Hess is neither a blaxploitation film nor a vampire movie (which it was intended to be). It is, in fact, a hauntingly original, highly-stylised drama about sex, faith, addiction and African American identity. A cult film in the true sense of the word, its fractured history is the stuff of underground cinema legend.
US playwright Bill Gunn was in the right place and the right time when he was handed US$350,000 to make his debut feature. But though he was supposed to have made a blaxploitation horror to ride on the cape and coat-tails of Blacula and its sequel (reviewed here), he ended up giving his producers an enigmatic meditation on addiction with an improvised Bergmanesque bent and an newly-radicalised African American agenda. It earned rave reviews at Cannes, but wasn’t what the producers ordered. They responded by re-editing it (excising all of the arty bits) and releasing it as Blood Couple (as well as Double Possession and Back Vampire amongst others) for the drive-in and grindhouse circuits. Gunn was furious. And so should have been.
Gunn’s marginalised masterpiece ended up fading into obscurity, while the director himself died prematurely in 1989 (from encephalitis). But thanks to film historian David Kalat, a director’s cut of the film was eventually released in 1998, followed by a HD version in the US under the Kino label. Now, the film gets it UK debut on Blu-ray and DVD from Eureka! Entertainment.
An important work in African-American cinema, Ganja & Hess is much more than just a failed horror movie experiment. Inspired by Gunn’s vision, film-maker Spike Lee has even filmed a remake, entitled Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, which hits US cinemas in February 2015.
Ganja & Hess is certainly difficult to digest in one sitting (especially the lengthy monologues), but it’s worth the effort. The images are many and multi-layered, fired by the director’s imagination and intellectual agenda; while the soundtrack is a fusion of soul and gospel, droning psychedelia, and primal screaming. The 16mm and 35mm film stocks used give the images a hazy, dreamlike quality that’s entirely suited to Gunn’s maverick style. And its worth noting that both George Romero’s Martin (1977) and Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction (1995) share its gritty low-budget look and vampiric/addiction themes.
Cult film fans will recognise Duane Jones from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. He was actually working as a teacher at the time and only did the film as a favour for Gunn; while the guy playing Ganja’s well-endowed lover was in fact a teacher friend of Johnson’s. Ganja & Hess (yes it is a play on the word hash) is a must-have for any serious cult film collection.
THE UK DUAL FORMAT RELEASE
Ganja & Hess is available on Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) from 26 January 2015 in the UK from Eureka! Entertainment, and this what you get:
• 1080p high-definition transfer of the original 16mm film elements, presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
• Optional English subtitles
• Audio commentary, recorded in 1998, with producer Chiz Schultz, actress Marlene Clark, cinematographer James Hinton and composer Sam Waymon . This is hugely informative and very entertaining, and helps fill in those gaps about the what the film is about. It was also included on the 2012 Kino release.
• Select scene commentary with David Kalat
• The Blood of the Thing. David Kalat leads a 29-min interview-based documentary. Very basic, but informative. It also appeared on the Kino release.
• Gunn’s original screenplay available via DVD-Rom and BD-Rom.
• Reversible Sleeve
• 24-page booklet featuring an essay on the history of the film and a vintage letter written by Gunn to the New York Times in 1973.
This latest issue of Monster Mag is a real blast from the past, with some great pix of some truly memorable fear flix from ’76, including Brian De Palma’s telekinetic terror-fest Carrie, Hammer’s final bow To the Devil… A Daughter and the daddy of all Antichrist chillers, The Omen. Plus, there’s Chuck Norris going bonkers in Tobe Hooper’s Death Trap, Peter Cushing getting lost in Land of the Minotaur and Klaus Kinski as Jess Franco’s Jack the Ripper.
Heading up the ‘Also Rans’ is blaxploitation horror Dr Black, Mr Hyde from Blacula director William Crain, while two of my all time cult favourites get a mention, House of the Laughing Windows and Who Can Kill a Child? (click on the links to read my reviews). As for the ‘Crawlers’, my guilty pleasure Grizzly is in there as well as the backwoods slasher The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The pull-out poster features To The Devil… A Daughter and Carrie.
To get yours click on the link: http://dezskinn.com/quality-shop-1/#MM19
They’ll be no posts from me for the next few weeks as Im off on a much-needed digital break. But stay tuned for reviews of the FrightFest 2014 surprise hit THE BABADOOK, THE COMPLETE BLACULA COLLECTION from Eureka!, and the blu-ray releases of CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR and ISLAND OF TERROR from Odeon and Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA from Cinema Classics.
WHERE EVIL DWELLS
Marjorie (Sandy Dennis) and Paul Worden (Darren McGavin) move into a Pennsylvania farmhouse with their two children Stevie (Johnny Whitaker) and Laurie where a series of eerie events causes Marjorie to become convinced that a demonic force is trying to possess her. Is she just a neurotic housewife on the verge of a nervous breakdown or is there really something evil lurking in her barn?
1972’s Something Evil was one of four TV movies Steven Spielberg directed for Universal after working on shows like Night Gallery and Columbo. Released a year after his thrilling ABC’s Movie of the Week debut Duel and coming three short years before his big-screen blockbuster Jaws, this modest, low-key tale was made to capitalise on the best-selling book The Exorcist before it was made into a film.
While Duel put Spielberg in the frame as a director to look out for, Something Evil proved he could create an effective, chilling piece of telly on a miniscule budget. And thanks to Bill Butler‘s inventive camera work, some chilling sound effects and Allan Jacobs‘ assured editing, Something Evil is elevated beyond the era’s average TV-movie spook fare. It certainly scared me silly when I saw it as a 12 year old and – especially the jar of glowing red jelly and ginger-haired Whitaker’s crazy eyes (surely he was the inspiration for Chucky) – and even now it stands the test of the time. It’s just too bad the the film prints currently in circulation haven’t.
Watch out for Spielberg popping up as as a party guest, and if you are trying to work out where you’ve seen Johnny Whitaker before, we’ll he was Jody in the hit 1960s TV Family Affair and also starred in Sid & Marty Krofft’s Sigmund and the Sea Monsters in the mid-1970s. Cinematographer Bill Butler, meanwhile, went on to work with Spielberg on Jaws before making his name on Grease and the Rocky films, while Jacobs would late edit the cult favorites Blacula, Cleopatra Jones and Bug.
Something Evil screens on The Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 138) on Wednesday 22 January 2014 at 4pm , Thursday 23 January 2014 at 11am and Sunday 26 January 2014 at noon.
The TV movie is also available on YouTube, but the print is really quite dreadful, so here’s a fan teaser trailer instead.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc3xO4JFl20%5D