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Blacula is a 1972 American blaxploitation horror film directed by William Crain. It stars William Marshall in the title role about an 18th-century African prince named Mamuwalde, who is turned into a vampire (and later locked in a coffin) by Count Dracula in the Count's castle in Transylvania in the year 1780 after Dracula refused to help Mamuwalde suppress the slave trade.

Blacula was released to mixed reviews in the United States, but was one of the top-grossing films of the year. It was the first film to receive an award for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards. Blacula was followed by the sequel Scream Blacula Scream in 1973 and inspired a wave of blaxploitation-themed horror films.

Plot

In 1780, Prince Mamuwalde is sent by the elders of the Nigerian Ibani African nation to seek the help of Count Dracula in suppressing the slave trade. Dracula, instead, laughs at this request and insults Mamuwalde by making open overtures about enslaving his wife, Luva. After a scuffle with Dracula's minions, Mamuwalde is bitten by Dracula and transformed into a vampire. Dracula then curses him with the name "Blacula" and imprisons him in a sealed coffin in a crypt hidden beneath the castle. Luva is also imprisoned in the same crypt and left powerless to help until she finally starves to death.

In 1972, the coffin is purchased as part of an estate by two homosexual interior decorators, Bobby McCoy and Billy Schaffer and shipped to Los Angeles. Bobby and Billy open the coffin inside a Los Angeles warehouse only to become Blacula's first victims. At the funeral home where Bobby McCoy's body is laid, Blacula spies on mourning friends Tina Williams, her sister Michelle, and Michelle's boyfriend, Dr. Gordon Thomas, a pathologist for the Los Angeles Police Department. Blacula is startled to notice that Tina appears to be the reincarnation of his deceased wife, Luva. On close investigation of the corpse at the funeral home, Dr. Thomas notices oddities with Bobby McCoy's death that he later concludes to be consistent with vampire folklore. Blacula follows Tina after she leaves the funeral home, but unintentionally frightens her. Tina runs away from him, dropping her purse in the process. He loses her when a cab strikes him while he crosses the street. The female cabbie, Juanita Jones, openly berates Blacula when she realizes he is uninjured, which angers him enough for him to attack and kill her.

Blacula continues to kill and transform various people he encounters, including Nancy, a photographer at the nightclub where Dr. Thomas, Michelle and Tina celebrate Michelle's birthday, and where Blacula shows up to return Tina's purse she dropped the night before. While Dr. Thomas answers a phone call from the funeral director, Mr. Swenson, who informs him that Bobby McCoy's body has gone missing, Tina is clearly taken with Blacula. The vampire asks to see her again the following evening, but they are interrupted by Nancy taking a photograph of them together. Soon after, Blacula attacks and kills Nancy in her nearby home, and destroys the photo she just developed, which shows Blacula conspicuously absent. The next evening, Blacula visits Tina at her apartment, and shares with her how he and his wife Luva were enslaved by Dracula, and how he was cursed into vampirism. Tina initially rejects Blacula's request for her to join him as a reincarnation of Luva, but she is also beginning to fall in love and asks the vampire to spend the night together.

Dr. Thomas, his colleague Police Lt. Jack Peters, and Michelle are meanwhile following the trail of murder victims, as Thomas begins to suspect a vampire to be the perpetrator. After Thomas digs up Billy Schaffer's coffin, the corpse rises as a vampire and attacks Thomas. The doctor fends him off and drives a stake through his heart. Thomas then calls ahead to the morgue, and alerts Sam, the attendant there, to take the cabbie Juanita Jones' body out of deep freeze and to leave the room and lock the door behind him. He rolls her body out, but distracted by a phone call, Sam neglects to lock the door, and while on the phone, Juanita Jones rises and immediately attacks and kills him. Dr. Thomas, accompanied by Lt. Peters, arrives at the morgue to find blood smears on the corridor wall near the pay phone where Sam answered the call, but no sign of Sam himself. They walk into the exam room by the freezer, where Lt. Peters sees a sheet-covered body lying on a gurney and pulls the sheet back to reveal Juanita Jones rising up to attack him. Dr. Thomas keeps her at bay with a large crucifix long enough to open the window blinds and expose her to the morning sun's rays, which quickly destroy her.

That evening, Dr. Thomas, Michelle and Tina are enjoying drinks at the club when Blacula arrives to pick Tina up. Thomas uses the opportunity to question Blacula of his knowledge of the occult in general, and vampires in particular. Thomas makes it known that the police are planning a search for the vampire's coffin before Blacula and Tina make their exit. The fact that Nancy, the club photographer, hasn't been seen since Michelle's birthday celebration is also discussed amongst them. Soon after, Dr. Thomas conducts a search of Nancy's house and finds a photo negative of Tina standing in front of the invisible Blacula. He then correctly deduces that Blacula himself is the vampire they have been seeking, and that Blacula and Tina are still together. Dr. Thomas rushes to Tina's apartment, finding them embracing. Thomas and Blacula briefly struggle, but Blacula nearly knocks Thomas unconscious and flees, killing a police officer in a nearby alley as he escapes. After reports of seeing Bobby McCoy walking the streets of Los Angeles come in, Thomas, Lt. Peters and several police officers track Blacula to his hideout, the warehouse where Bobby McCoy and Billy Schaffer were first slain. They locate a nest of several vampires there, including Bobby McCoy, and destroy them, but Blacula manages to escape.

Blacula uses his vampiric powers of hypnotic suggestion to lure Tina to his new hideout at a nearby underground chemical plant, while Thomas, Lt. Peters and another group of police officers pursue him. Blacula dispatches several of the officers, but one of them accidentally shoots and mortally wounds Tina. To save her life, Blacula transforms her into a vampire. As Blacula proceeds to brutalize many police officers, one of the remaining policemen locates the coffin and alerts Dr. Thomas and Lt. Peters. However, Peters kills Tina with a stake, believing that Blacula would be in the coffin instead. Devastated at losing her again, Blacula tells Thomas and Peters there is no need to pursue him further, and willingly climbs the stairs to the roof where the morning sun destroys him.

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