Blacula: Young, Black, and Undead

As evidenced by vampires' most recent resurrection, each generation gets its own variation of the creature, from the rodent-like fiend of 1922's Nosferatu to the undead heartthrobs of Twilight. Yes, these sunlight-shy creatures of the night may be immortal, but most remain uniquely suited to their era. Take, for example, Blacula. Released in 1972, the film infused gothic frights with a dose of black pride, making the titular vampire an African prince cursed to endure an eternity of lonesome bloodsucking. While the storyline didn't stray far from standard vampire fare, the inclusion of swanky fashions, a smoking rhythm-and-blues score, and a smooth starring performance from William Marshall vaulted the film above the ubiquitous Blaxploitation films of the period (including 1973's subpar sequel, Scream, Blacula, Scream). Realizing the campy charisma of the material, playwright Reginald Edmund has unearthed Blacula to menace from the stage. But while the production doesn't shy away from the film's singular eccentricities, this work of comic horror represents a peculiarly endearing tribute to an era in which even vampires strove for a share of equality. Directed by Harry Waters Jr., Blacula runs Halloween night at the Bryant-Lake Bowl (while a simultaneous production is staged in Chicago), offering a silly and suspenseful reminder that the spirit of Blacula refuses to stay buried in the 1970s.
Wed., Oct. 31, 7 p.m., 2012

 
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