Richard Lawson has played a lot of roles in his career, but it could be argued some of his best came during the blaxploitation era. Two roles in particular stand out from the rest of Lawson’s 1970s resume, and those are Scream Blacula Scream and Black Fist.
In Scream Blacula Scream Lawson’s character is the equivalent of the dog pissing on the grave of a horror legend and bringing him back to life. The film has voodoo, vampires, Richard Lawson, and Pam Grier. It’s probably better than the first Blacula movie, if we’re going to be honest about things.
In Black Fist Lawson shows he’s got what it takes to be the hero in an action movie. The only thing Lawson’s action movie lacked that other action stars of the genre had at their disposal, was the luxury of a slightly bigger budget. Action films are hard to do, and do well, on the cheap because car chases, explosions, bullets, and fire, cost money.
These days he’s still making movies and he’s teaching the craft to others.
Why We Love and Respect Him: Sugar HIll is an in-house favorite, and anybody with a significant role in that film has our respect and attention.
Best Known For: his television roles after his blaxploitation days, but if we’re just talking blaxploitation, Scream Blacula Scream is where most people have seen him.
Blaxploitation Role Call:
Scream Blacula Scream (1973) as Willis Daniels: Willis is pissed about his dying, Voodoo-queen mother naming Lisa as her replacement. Willis believes he is the rightful heir to throne and he resurrects Blacula who he intends to use an expression of his anger. The plan backfires.
Fox Style (1973) as Little Henry: (Courtesy of IMDB) A wealthy nightclub owner struggles to reconcile his country upbringing with his city environs. Never seen it. Don’t know much about it. I smell a research project wafting from just around the corner..
Sugar HIll (1974) as Valentine: Valentine is a cop who starts sticking his nose into Sugar’s business when bodies start piling up around town. It doesn’t take a zombie slave army to throw Valentine off the trail. No, Sugar handles this one herself.
Bogard aka Black Fist (1974) as Leroy Fisk: Fisk is a fighter. It’s all he knows how to do. He rides this talent into a gig fighting for some gangsters for big stakes. Leroy eventually realizes the gangsters are taking advantage of him and decides to put a stop to it. In an all-blaxploitation battle royal with Shaft, Hammer, Jesse Crowder, Slaughter, Tyrone Tackett, Too Sweet, and the like, I wouldn’t count him out.
Black Fist Trailer
Great links to audio interviews with Richard Lawson can be found on his website.
Richard Lawson discusses acting and changes within the business in the video below.
“Now Hollywood is Plan B.” – Richard Lawson