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Mar 082017
 

When it comes to vampire movies, it’s easy to think of Dracula. Back in the 70s, there was a creative version called Blacula. This is about Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall, who I remember best as the King of Cartoons from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse) seeking help from Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to surpress the slave trade, but instead Dracula turns the prince into a vampire thus making him Blacula. Who would’ve thought that Dracula was involved in the slave trade back in 1780.

About two hundred years later, Blacula rises again and looks for victims in Los Angeles. I’m sure he’s merely suffering with his thirst for blood. It’s easy to see that in the animated opening title sequence, which is really cool I might add.

Soon Blacula claims his first victims, interior designers Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schaffer (Rick Melzler) and decides to take a cape to add to his look. Why not, I mean what’s a vampire without a cape.

After taking a few more victims, Blacula finds a young woman named Tina (Vonetta McGee). She has a striking resemblance to Blacula’s wife Luva, mainly because the same actress plays her.

Normally Blacula doesn’t care who his victims are, but he would never intentionally harm Tina or take her by force. Even after Blacula reveals what he really is, Tina still falls for him. Is that insane or what?

The only one suspicious about the mysterious attacks is scientific investigator Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who happens to be dating Tina’s sister Michelle (Denise Nicholas). To prove it, he intends to show his superiors the vampire victims in order for them to believe him. That was a smart move on Dr. Thomas’s part.

The main victim that stands out to me is Juanita Jones (Ketty Lester) the cab driver. After running over Blacula, she had an attitude with him, which was pretty funny. Juanita was one heck of a vampire too.

Blacula has the same weaknesses as any vampire, but here’s something different. He tends to avoid a certain individual named Skillet (Ji-Tu Cumbuka) who often describes Blacula as “one strange dude”. Could it be because Skillet likes to be photographed, or because he’s so annoying? It’s hard to say.

Even though it’s not shown until much later in the movie, Blacula can also turn into a bat. The effect is really smooth and amazing.

I liked this movie. It was certainly good for its time, especially when compared with how the vampires looked back in the 70s to the vampires in movies today. Those were more simpler times.

Dec 132010
 

I can remember Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (1986-1991). This old Saturday morning series is about Paul Reubens as that classic quirky character Pee-Wee Herman and his playhouse filled with talking furniture. I even have the old playset along with the talking Pee-Wee and Chairry doll for him to sit on. Some of my favorite characters include Chairry the talking arm chair, Mr. Window the talking window, and Globey the talking globe, who is very knowledgeable about geography.

The animation is neat also. Like when Pee-Wee plays connect the dots with Magic Screen. Pee-Wee becomes part of the adventure. There’s also clay animation with the dinosaur family, the food in the refrigerator, and the fast-paced Penny cartoons.

Another classic character was Conky the robot. He provides the secret word for each episode and plays music on occasion. However, the record player is on edge. How does the record stay on there? Maybe if Conky were updated, he’d have a CD player. Now that would be cool.

The King of Cartoons (William Marshall) always stops by to show old cartoons from the 30s and 40s. It used to be with a film projector, and then it became more convenient with the little TV on wheels. I just recently realized that William Marshall also played Blacula in the Blacula films. Other big stars who have been on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse include Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis, Phil Hartman as Captain Carl, and S. Epatha Merkerson as Reba the mail lady.

Pee-Wee is also creative when it comes to having fun. One of the main items I can remember was about wearing giant underpants on his head. Man, I still think that’s hilarious.

One of my favorite gags from the earlier seasons was the Salesman bit. This guy with a giant head says, “I’m going door to door to make you this incredible offer…” Pee-Wee growls and shouts, “Salesman!” I’d like to see how he reacts to telemarketers.

During the series run, Pee-Wee Herman had two films. His first one was Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Pee-Wee was funny and witty, but I found it disappointing because none of the other Playhouse characters were in it. The change was way too drastic.

As for his other film Big Top Pee-Wee, Pee-Wee was great once again, but there were still no other Playhouse characters featured. Yet I began to like it better when I found out about Vance the talking pig. He’s no Pteri, but the character works.

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse is a fun and creative series. It’s just too bad that it ended because of a celebrity scandal. You know what I’m talking about.