Friday, September 19, 2014

DVD Doppelgängers: Dracula Season 1 vs. Blacula

Wow, did you know there was a Dracula TV series on NBC last year? I surely didn't! Boy, do I feel out of the loop. I suppose that's to be expected when you stop watching live TV, as I have. 

I definitely need to hire an intern here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld to help me keep up on current pop culture. Someone to watch all this crap so I don't have to.

Anyway, I noticed something as I was gazing at the DVD cover of Dracula Season 1 (the one and only season, apparently). Something besides the horrible kerning that makes the title look like the old "Dr. Acula" joke. There was something familiar about the cover image. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on...

Oh yeah. Now I remember. Looks like whoever designed the Dracula cover was a fan of the 1970s blaxploitation classic Blacula (Really, spellcheck? You don't flag "blaxploitation?").

Deadly vampire poised for attack on the left side? Check. Hapless female victim baring her supple, sensuous throat on the right? Big check. Mist-shrouded castle set against a gloomy sky in the background? Double check. If this cover wasn't "inspired" by Blacula, then I'll eat my hat.

By the way, most people dismiss Blacula as a piece of substandard drive-in movie trash. They are wrong. Blacula is a film classic!

The movie is greatly enhanced by the presence of William Marshall, who plays the title character. Marshall definitely elevates the material, and brings to it a much-needed touch of class. He gives the character, which could have been just a one-note joke, a quiet and powerful dignity. At 6' 5" he was an imposing figure with a deep, rich and powerful voice.

Believe it or not, Marshall was a classically trained stage actor who appeared in many Shakespearean plays. He was also an opera singer (!). 

TV viewers will most likely remember him as Dr. Richard Daystrom in The Ultimate Computer episode of the original Star Trek series. He was also the King Of Cartoons on Pee-wee's Playhouse in the 1990s. "Let the cartooooooons begin!"

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