Welcome to My Favorite Vampire Movie COUNTdown

Welcome to my first-ever COUNTdown of my favorite vampire films. From now until Halloween, I’ll be counting down my favorite vampire movies of all-time. Please note that these are my favorite, not the best, or best reviewed, or what others consider to be the best. These are simply my favorites. My love for the genre is well documented.

“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!”

— Dracula to Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Horror movies have always been somewhat if not overt exploitation films. According to encyclopedia.com, “The term ‘exploitation movie’ initially referred to any film that required exploitation or ballyhoo over and above the usual posters, trailers, and newspaper advertising.” And in the early 1970s, a new kind of exploitation film emerged, the blaxploitation film.

They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! Shaft, Super Fly, Hammer, and Cleopatra Jones are just a few examples. One of my favorite films, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, hilariously parodied blaxploitation movies. I met Fred Williamson once and asked him why he didn’t play Hammer in that film, and he said the script was just too silly.   

31a. Blacula

In 1972, William Marshall starred in Blacula. I have written about Marshall in my blog series covering Star Trek: The Original Series. He played Dr. Richard Daystrom, a pioneering scientist and recurring mythological character in the Star Trek universe. He also appeared in the “Video Pirates” segment in Amazon Women on the Moon.

William Crain directed this yarn written by Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig. Marshall plays an African prince who travels to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula, who betrays Mamuwalde and his wife. Dracula bestows the moniker “Blacula” on Mamuwalde in a rather ridiculous play on words (almost as bad as Alucard). Eventually, Blacula finds his way to modern-day Los Angeles and comes across the reincarnation of his long-lost wife (Vonetta McGee). Sound familiar?

Blacula spends much of the movie transforming others into vampires while chasing his reincarnated wife and eluding the police. Sunlight eventually does him in.

31b. Scream Blacula Scream

See? This is how I get more than 31 movies into the countdown. Scream Blacula Scream was released in 1973, with William Marshall reprising his role as Blacula/Mamuwalde. This time, voodoo is used to revive Blacula, who continues to create more vampires, all the while seeking a cure for his condition. Sound familiar? The conclusion leaves Blacula’s fate open to another sequel, which never happens.

Bob Kelljan directed, and Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig returned to pen the screenplay along with Maurice Jules. Pam Grier also stars in this one.

I like these movies because as much as they play on established tropes and folklore, there’s a realism (if there can be such a thing in vampire movies) and a grit to them. Not much is explained regarding how Blacula creates more vampires, a bite seems to suffice. Marshall lends some gravitas, some cache, to the role. He has a great voice and a commanding presence.

The premise of the meeting with Count Dracula is a bit ridiculous, but this horror subgenre has seen more than its share of absurdity, and believe me, there are much worse plots and storylines out there.

I watch these films every time they air on TV. There’s a charm and a nostalgia to them and William Marshall is worth the price of admission.

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