6. Blacula (1972)
“Warm, young bodies will feed his hunger, and hot, fresh blood his awful thirst!” . The first foray for the blaxploitation subgenre into the world of horror sees an African prince being transformed into a vampire by Count Dracula in 1780. He is locked into a coffin for almost two hundred years when a pair of interior decorators brings his coffin back to Los Angeles.
There he escapes and begins to feed on innocent victims and ends up meeting a woman who bears a striking resemblance to his deceased wife, who he believes is a reincarnation of her.
This is a well done take on the horror genre that focuses more on the horror aspects than turning it into a blaxploitation spoof of the genre. It is boosted by the stellar performance by William Marshall, who was a Shakespearean theater veteran and is probably best known now for portraying the “King of Cartoons” on Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
The special effects make up is nothing spectacular, but it is effective and there are also several big stunts including some vampires being set on fire. The score is an interesting blend of 1970’s rhythm and blues and a classical horror score. The popularity of this one resulted in a sequel and several other blaxploitation horror imitators such as Blackenstein, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, and Abby.
7. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1973)
“Hammer Horror! Dragon Thrills! The First Kung Fu Horror Spectacular!” . This was an unusual co-production between British Hammer Studios and Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studio, with Hammer hoping to capitalize on the booming popularity of martial arts films by merging it with the mythos of Dracula.
In Transylvania in 1804, the high priest of the seven golden vampires goes to Dracula’s castle asking him to assist in bringing the seven golden vampires back to their original power. Dracula takes over the priest’s body in order to escape his castle in which he is imprisoned.
In 1904, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is lecturing in China about the seven golden vampires and a student asks for his assistance in destroying them. They head on a quest to their location along with the student’s seven other siblings, Van Helsing’s son, and a wealthy widow.
Despite this one receiving a lot of negative criticism, it is actually a pretty enjoyable movie that was exceptionally filmed. It has a very nice production value, camera placement is always good, and it has nice locations and sets, and great use of shadows and lighting. Cushing is excellent as Van Helsing, in what would be his final appearance for Hammer Films.
It is still balls to wall insanity; featuring tons of nudity, weird special effects, bloody and violent martial arts action, zombies, disintegrating vampires, exploding zombies, and a wild and violent final battle. It was also the only Hammer picture not to feature Christopher Lee as Dracula, with John Forbes-Robertson playing the role.
8. Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter (1974)
“The Only Man Alive Feared by the Walking Dead!” . This was produced by British studio Hammer Films in their waning days before closing their doors. It is about Captain Kronos, a swashbuckling vampire hunter who travels the country with his hunchback companion Hieronymus Grost. He gets a call from an old army friend and travels to a town where a vampire has been killing young girls, who instead of sucking blood drains the youth out of them and makes them look very old when they die.
This is a moody and atmospheric film that has gained a cult following because of its mix of the supernatural horror and the main character’s swashbuckling style. It was meant to have sequels but the studio couldn’t financially continue.
The Kronos character is awesome and he totally would have ended up with a series devoted to him. He is ultra cool; with his military jacket draped around him, a huge ring on his finger with a “k” on it, and brandishing a fencing and samurai sword. He is the Bond version of a period British vampire hunter. It also features an appearance from the beautiful Caroline Monroe, who appeared in various British sci-fi and horror pictures, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Maniac.
9. Blood for Dracula AKA Andy Warhol’s Dracula (1974)
“He couldn’t live without a virgin’s blood….. …So a virgin had to die!” . This is an Italian-French motion picture that was co-produced by famous artist Andy Warhol and billed in American as Andy Warhol’s Dracula. Dracula (Udo Kier) is sickly and dying because he can only drink virgin blood, amusingly pronounced wurgin in the movie, so he and his man servant travel from Romania to Italy.
There they find an aristocratic family that has four daughters. The only problem is their gardener, played by hunky actor Joe Bellesandro, is going around banging all of the family’s daughters. Will he be able to get some virgin blood before Bellesandro makes his way through the entire line of daughters?
This is a satirical, campy, and exploitative sex romp about Dracula. Many of the normal tropes associated with vampires have been altered; he can be in the sunlight, doesn’t always sleep in his coffin, eats a special vegetarian diet, and can touch a cross. Kier has to be one of the strangest incarnations of Dracula put to the screen; he is sickly, depressed, often sad looking, complains about his diet and the conditions, and yet is also somewhat touching all at the same time.
All of this kind of makes you feel sorry for him, even if Kier plays this just slightly over the top. Kier had also starred in Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and has gone on to have a long and varied career, with over 200 film and television credits to his name.
There is also a heavy dose of gratuitous nudity and sex scenes throughout this, including one where one of the sisters eats strawberries while watching the other one have sex. And let’s not forget about the heavy dose of blood and an extremely violent ending, all of this makes for an unusual and fun exploitative ride.
10. Vamp (1986)
“The first kiss could be your last” . A trio of college guys head out to a weird part of the city seeking out a stripper for a fraternity party, which will ensure that they end up getting membership. What they don’t know is that the strip club and that part of the city are actually inhabited by a large group of vampires led by actress Grace Jones.
This is an enjoyable and highly underrated horror comedy that kind of got lost in the mix between The Lost Boys and Fright Night, but was obviously influential on films such as From Dusk til Dawn. It is one of those pictures that nicely blend college humor with actual horror elements, containing some decent and wild looking creature effects and gore.
There are multiple burlesque dancing sequences and nudity, with one particularly memorable one involving Jones decked out in Kabuki style makeup and a Red wig and dress. Jones stands out as the erotic and yet menacing leader of the vampires. It also features Geddy Watanabe (Gung Ho), Billy Drago (The Untouchables), and Sandy Baron (Seinfeld).
All the works cited can be found here.
Author Bio: Raul J. Vantassle is a jazz musician whose key strokes move about the page creating an explosion of formlessness to form, or just total bullshit. His heroes include John Waters, Robert Crumb, Charles Bukowski, and the Cobra Commander. His Knowledge of film goes across the board but he specializes in Asian and cult cinema. He may be the filthiest person alive. You can visit his blog here.