Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Prince Mamuwalde "Blacula"

Just watched this again last weekend and I am still amazed at the depth of this move I so off-handedly dismissed the first time I saw it.  There is a lot here in this flick that many modern vampire shows/movies lack.
This has easily moved into one of my favorite vampire films, and Prince Mamuwalde as one of the more tragic figures in vampire storytelling.

Prince Mamuwalde "Blacula"

Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream were noble, and novel, experiments. It was 1972 and two things were popular in cinema, Blaxplotation films and Hammer's Vampire films. Blacula then seemed like a logical, if formulamatic, solution. Chances are it would have made a quick buck in a highly derivative market and it would have been forgotten.

Except someone forgot to tell William Marshall this.

William Marshall was a Shakespearean trained actor with a commanding presence and a booming voice, but more importantly he interject a style and nobility to the character of Blacula. Rumor has it that Blacula was going to be nothing more than some ghetto clone killing people in LA. But Marshall proposed the Mamuwalde, African Prince story-line that made the character more three-dimensional. His Blacula was more noble than any vampire before, or since, with the possible exception of Christopher Lee.

I wont ruin the story here, if you have not seen it. Nor will I reference Scream Blacula Scream too much except that the voodoo angle in it was really cool.


It is 1780 and European educated African Prince Mamuwalde returns to Europe, hoping to speak to the European heads of state as equals to end the slave trade that has been robbing his country of its citizens.
He has met with resounding failure, but no failure will compare to what waits for him and his lovely wife Luva when they go to Transylvania and meet with ruling lord, Count Dracula.
Dracula acts improper with Luva, raising Mamuwaldes ire some more. Dracula, insulted by the African prince bites him and curses him with vampire immortality. He seals the newly dead prince in a coffin and then seals the coffin and Luva in a room. Mamuwalde is forced to listen as Luva dies of starvation and he remains, his bloodlust and revenge unsaited for nearly 200 years.

Dracula's castle, and its lands have fallen into decay, but two enterprising interior designers (maybe hoping to make a few bucks on the Hammer Films craze) make off with several of Dracula's possessions, including an ornately designed coffin. Back in LA the designers fatally discover that their coffin is not empty at all and Mamuwalde, aka "Blacula" is loose on the streets. He alternates from killing machine to suave royal, till he meets Tina. Tina is the reincarnation of Luva and Mamuwalde will do whatever he can to have her.

So 1972 was a long time ago. What is Mamuwalde doing today in your games?
Well you have a couple of options. You can take the events of the movie and move them up nearly 40 years. Course you loose some the nice gritty feel of early 70s LA, but it would be easier to adapt the story.
Or you say that after the events of SBS Mamuwalde returned again (after all Dracula is his sire) and he is still search for Luva/Tina. Borrow a page from the Ravenloft playbook (or are they borrowing from Blacula?) and have Luva show up every generation to tempt the Prince. She would be about due again now.

The Soul Question
Does Mamuwalde have a soul? Absolutely. He is not tortured because he is angst filled and existential rather he is tortured because he know he is a monster, and yet he feels love, remorse and regret. This tends to make him a tad depressed and focus on his lost love even after all these centuries. He was, and remains, an honorable man. Winning him as ally would be a great boon to any group of characters, winning his enmity however is certainly inviting death.

Prince Mamuwalde

Life Points 110
Drama Points 15

Strength 8
Dexterity 4
Constitution 6
Intelligence 4
Perception 3
Willpower 5

Initiative +4
Actions 2
Gender Male
Age 250
Eyes Black
Hair Black
Height 63
Weight 250 lbs.

Age 2
Attractiveness +2
Contacts, Financial 2 (for 2010 use)
Contacts, Governmental 2 (for 2010 use)
Fast Reaction Time
Hard to Kill 2
Increased Life Points
Nerves of Steel
Resources +7
Status +5

Antisocial Impulses, Cruel (Mild)
Dual Shape
Honorable (2)
Love, Tragic (Luva)
Mental Problems, Depression (Mild)

Acrobatics 1
Art 3
Computers 0
Crime 1
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 5
Gun Fu 0
Influence 5
Knowledge 4
Kung Fu 2
Languages 3
Mr. Fix-it 0
Notice 1
Occultism 4
Science 0
Sports 1
Wild Card 0

Manoeuvre        Bonus        Base Damage        Notes
Bite                +8        27                Slash/stab; Grapple first to feed
Break neck        +13        32       
Punch                +6        16                Bash
Dodge                +9                        Defence action
Grapple        +8                        Resisted by Dodge
Feint                +9       

Scream, Blacula, Scream!


James said...

Cool post! I've never seen Blacula, but I'll have to rectify, that.

christian said...

Can't believe I've never seen this. Digging the blog. I love the varied content.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

It is a good flick, but you need to be a fan of 70's vampire films or Blaxplotation films first to get into it. Granted I see depth here, others might see cheese.

Some one really needs to remake this movie and give it proper treatment. And get Laurence Fishburne to play Mamuwalde; if for no other reason than he has the perfect voice. Plus Fisburne and William Marshal both have played Othello which I think needs to be a prerequisite for anyone playing Mamuwalde; no one does tragedy quite like the Bard.

Unknown said...

It should be remade and retold