Sunday, February 28, 2010

Black History Month Day Twenty-Eight: William Marshall, Blacula and the Ever Controversial Blaxploitation Films.

It's hard to believe that this is the very last Black History Month post! With no days left you've probably been asking yourself, "Where is William Marshall and Blacula?" And the truth is, I've grown more and more nervous as the days grow closer to when I'd have to talk or at least mention blaxploitation. The truth is, I've always found blaxploitation to be extremely disrespectful and I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to mention it at all. The only problem is, I started to realize that I had no right to classify an entire genre without basing it in knowledge or fact. I knew next to nothing about the history, and the cinematic importance of blaxploitation and therefore my fears on approaching the subject became even bigger. I have never even seen the movie Blacula- so how on earth could I then write on the achievements and history of William Marshall without talking about his most famous work?
And then the other day something miraculous happened. I realized that the people around me, my "blogging buddies" as I sometimes to refer to them, knew plenty on the subject. So why then should I mislead my readers into thinking that I am an authority on the subject when I have hordes of experts at my command? So without further ado, I bring you some of the most wonderful bloggers to give your their take on blaxploitation, Blacula, William Marshall or all of the above.

Blacula is one of the most famous of all blaxploitation flicks, so it tends to galvanize a lot of the praise and/or criticism that blaxploitation in general seems to garner. But blaxploitation was really a product of the time out of which it came. At the time, it was part of a movement to further expose and legitimize African-American culture in the media. Of course, along the way, whether inadvertently or not, the largely white decision-makers behind it wound up highlighting some negative black stereotypes, and thus the stigma.

But to me, it's arrogant to judge movies like Blacula based on our own present-day ideology. You have to look at it in the context of its time. This is the same reason I have no trouble watching even the most politically incorrect cartoons of, say, the 1930s, '40 and '50s, which often contain racial or gender stereotypes.

It's wrong to believe that we in the present day have some kind of monopoly on the truth and know better than anyone who came before us. In the distant future, there will be people who look down on some of the movies we now love for reasons we may not yet be able to fathom. And they'd be just as wrong.

Demetrios, Horror Movie Empire on educating yourself on Blaxploitation.

Where is he and what has he had??' Do you know what movie that line is from? If you do, congrats to you! If you don't, start paying attention. I'd like to direct everyone to 2 websites. and While the point was for me to write about my own thoughts I think these 2 sites can convey the extremely underrated role that African-Americans have played both in the horror genre and movies in general MUCH better than I ever could. For those with short attention spans I'm just gonna list a few movies that you should see that fall under the 'blaxploitation' label or have major roles by African-Americans: Blacula/Blacula 2, the Dolemite Collection, Vampire in Brooklyn, the Candyman series, The Beast Must Die, Night/Dawn of the Dead, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, Penitentiary, Blackenstein, Black Devil Doll From Hell, Deep Blue Sea and many, many more. This is only a fraction of the list and i suggest going to for an extensive list for those interested in just horror. For those looking to branch out, go to and click 'movies' and load up your netflix queue or shopping carts and give them a shot. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Matt House, Chuck Norris Ate My Baby on the unfortunate style decisions of Blacula

Count Dracula is a character known for his sex appeal and good looks. He has an ability to draw in his potential victims with nothing more than a coy look and the bat of an eyelash. Numerous actors have played the role, from Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, to Frank Langella and the sun kissed George Hamilton. These fine examples of Dracula were very sensual and attractive, and even when vamped out, they didn’t look all that frightening, instead, they were able to remain provocative. Now, when taking a look at Dracula’s soul brotha, Blacula, the good looks and sexual appeal seem to be somewhat lacking. This has nothing to do with Blacula’s skin color; rather, his problem has to do with his odd facial hair pattern and the placement of said facial hair.

He's no Taye Diggs, but when Blacula is in normal mode, he is not a bad looking dude, and his mustache and sideburns are tight and nicely kept. However, the second he goes into predator form, he suddenly looks like his barber might as well be Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles…take your pick. I can see looking a little feral when turning into a bloodsucker, but his facial hair pattern makes very little to no sense. His sudden widow’s peak, the wyld stallion eyebrows, and that hair all over his cheeks…the dude just looks disgusting. There is no way in hell that he doesn’t smell terrible with facial hair like that and for the sweet love of jambalaya, why does he have patch’s of hair on his cheeks?! It doesn’t even really connect to his sideburns! It's just there, looking all nasty and coarse. Dude needs a Mach 5 to be invented with the quickness. Seriously, Blacula, how the shit you gonna get some broads when you roll like that? Certainly explains the lack of vampire brides in his posse, as opposed to male ones. It really is a good thing this poor dude cannot see himself in the mirror, or is it maybe a bad thing?

It seems a little unfair that poor Blacula would get the shaft by being one of the ugliest vampires of all time. You finally get an African American vampire, put him in a pretty fun film, but you give him fucked up hair and make him look like one of the Ramos Gomez brothers?! I call foul! Blacula just really needs a massive makeover to bring him into modern times, as well as someone to teach him some positive grooming habits and skin care. This would sooo make for a great episode of What Not to Wear, but I’m not sure what clothing stores are open late night, so that could pose a bit of a problem.


Matt-suzaka said...

Ha ha, that last part was awesome!

Good stuff all around and I agree with what Brian and Demetrios on their specific subjects. I'm no expert, but I know my Blaxploitation pretty well and I never found the films, or the term to be offensive and most of the people that did were black politicians using the term and films as a political platform.

Since you aren't all that familiar with the subject, I would suggest checking out the documentary Baadasssss Cinema. I just talked about it on my blog and It's a solid doc that is great for newcomers to the genre, a genre I highly suggest checking out.

There are a lot of great interviews on there that cover the racial impact that the films had, as well as to how they reflected the time period.

Thanks for asking me to take was a lot of fun!

forestofthedead said...

I'm no expert but Dr. Gore's Funhouse has mentioned blaxploitaton as something as that made a black actress a role model for other black people. I think, like so many other types of movies, it gets more crap than it deserves.

Also how one not like a movie called Blacula? It sounds awesome and I look forward to viewing it one day as a great vampire film.

B-Sol said...

Thanks for the invite, great stuff all around! Sorry to see the BHM posts go, though...