William Crain sought to create a sympathetic character out of Blacula

Crain's take on horror villains.

Considered one of the most notable blaxploitation films, Blacula and its sequel, Scream Blacula Scream took the horror genre into a brand new direction. But while much of the horror genre aims to scare and terrify an audience, director William Crain sought to draw another emotion from those viewing his films: sympathy.

While not the director of the Scream Blacula Scream, Crain was instrumental in the character's development as the director of the original film, entitled, Blacula. In an interview with the Associated Press, Crain described the beginning of his journey as the director of Blacula, which began with him vehemently refusing the role until his agent managed to convince him.

Even then, Crain was still reluctant. "The tragic thing is that I drew the assignment because I am black," said Crain. "I would much rather have gotten it because of my abilities, rather than the color of my skin. But now that I've got it, I'm going to do the best job I can."

Prior to his work as a director, Crain also had an opportunity to direct The Mod Squad, though it didn't lead to any immediate long-term opportunities. "I finally was given a Mod Squad to direct," said Crain. "But I wasn't asked back, and I think that hurt me around town. Producers wanted to know. 'Why didn't they hire him again? For a year I didn't get work."

By the time Crain's break came with Blacula, it was well deserved. Not only was the film well-received by fans who discuss the movie to this very day, but it also takes an opportunity to use the film in the discussion of more serious topics, like slavery. It was Crain's goal not to just get his audience scared, but to get them to feel something.

"What I'm aiming for is sympathy," he said. "I remember seeing those mummy pictures when I was a kid and feeling sorry for Lon Chaney Jr. because he didn't want to turn into a monster."

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10 Comments

Avie 11 days ago
How can you write a story about Blacula and not mention its imposing star, William Marshall?

I'd been a fan of his ever since I was a kid and saw him in the original "Star Trek" episode "The Ultimate Computer" in 1966. I got to meet him in 1997 and was not disappointed; in person he was urbane, charming and a lovely man all round.
RTJR 12 days ago
Who could ever forget William Marshall's most memorable role. He became the King of Cartoons on Pee Wee's Playhouse, after replacing Gilbert Lewis.
musicman37 12 days ago
I have the movie on DVD. I'll turn that on at 8. I'm tired of putting up with 1-1/2 hours of Svengoolie's sophomoric shenannigans just to watch a 74 minute movie (Nostalgiaferatoo? Come on.......)
Null88 musicman37 12 days ago
LIVE! ;-) Watching TV gives me a tele-communal-post-Covid experience.
artisteonfire 12 days ago
As I recall (interviews, etc.) - the wonderful lead-actor William Marshall was also instrumental to character development/storyline in the original Blacula. Looking forward to re-visiting the seldom-shown sequel.
Yvette artisteonfire 12 days ago
There’s a sequel? I never knew that.
musicman37 Yvette 12 days ago
That's Hollywood for you. Have a success (which the original movie was), beat a dead horse to wring as much lucre as you can out of it. It's ALWAYS been that way.
Null88 musicman37 12 days ago
Glad he had a very successful career for Hollywood.
William Marshall also played the inventor of the computers used on starships like Capt. Kirk's on Star Trek.
He was also responsible for making the demon in the seldom seen Abby, African, too.
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