The local voodoo priestess has just died, and there's a power struggle over who will take over her position: will it be her son Willis (Richard Lawson) or her adopted daughter Lisa (Pam Grier)? The locals want to put it to a vote, but Willis, knowing he will lose to Lisa, has other ideas. He storms out of the meeting and gets his hands on some bones which he holds his own private ceremony with, casting a spell over them until they catch fire. Nothing appears to come of this and Willis retires in annoyance, but what he doesn't see is the shadow on the wall behind him - the shadow of Blacula (William Marshall), now resurrected!
The original Blacula was such a good idea it was natural that after its success a sequel would be rushed out, this one directed by Bob Kelljan, the man behind Count Yorga, Vampire. The imposing, charismatic Marshall returned, and as with the predecessor is the best thing about it although there are those who will tell you that Scream Blacula Scream is the superior movie. But it has a hastily assembled quality as if the film makers hadn't had time to rustle up a decent script (this one is by Maurice Jules, Raymond Koenig and Joan Torres), which gives the clichéd story a voodoo spin but seems reluctant to do much of interest with it.
Blacula, or Manuwalde to give him his proper name, wastes no time in sinking his teeth into Willis without even asking him what he's talking about. And so it is that Blacula now has a new minion, the Renfield to his Dracula, but this underling has ideas above his station and is most dismayed when he sees he has no reflection and can't check out how good he looks anymore. Blacula bans him from going to the party he had been invited to, and goes in his place, where he impresses the partygoers with his knowledge of African artworks and takes a liking to Lisa, who just happens to be there as well.
But when Blacula sees a woman accidentally cut her hand, the bloodlust rises in him and he excuses himself, whereupon he visits her in her room and drains the unfortunate of blood. The vampire must be putting on a lot of weight, because after three meals (Willis's friends were also victims) he ventures out onto the streets and is accosted by two pimps spouting "kick yo' black ass" dialogue who he beats up and drains as well. By now he has a coterie of vampire followers, and apparently this condition gives you really bad hair, so it's only a matter of time before not only the police, but also Lisa's professor friend Justin (Don Mitchell) is taking an interest.
There's something awkward about Scream Blacula Scream that isn't down to stilted acting, as Marshall with his rich tones is as impressive as ever, although Grier plays a weaker female than what she, and we, were used to from this era. There are uncomfortable silences and a lot of it is surprisingly subdued, the brief moments of teeth baring violence apart. Perhaps it's an uncertainty about where to go next with the story, as where it ends up is with Blacula determined to use Lisa's voodoo talents to rid him of his curse forever in an underwhelming finale that is combined with the police attack on the vampire minions. And the film doesn't so much build to a climax than simply stops dead, as did the series after audiences failed to embrace it as they had the first one. A pity, because it features a great horror character. Music by Bill Marx.