Directed by Duccio Tessari
Stars: Isaac Hayes, Fred Williamson, Paula Kelly, Lino Ventura, William Berger
"There's a pretty high mortality rate in this area."
Hmmm...an Italian made Blaxploitation film. While this flick displays all the trappings of a typical film of this genre, there is something missing in it's composition that keeps it below standard. Let's check off the list.
Music? Check. Isaac Hayes provided the soundtrack as well as starring in the film. Blaxploitation star power? Check. In addition to Hayes, we get Paula Kelly and Fred Williamson. Pimps, whores, druggies? Check, check, and check. Action? Check. There are guns, fisticuffs, and blades all in evidence. (In a weird twist, a priest commits quite a bit of the violence we see in this movie!)
So what is the problem? This movie lacks SOUL. It reeks of being produced to catch onto the Blaxploitation bandwagon for profit only. No real effort was made to involve the viewer in the storyline. You don't give a shit about the characters. Overall, this is simply a flat effort, a funkily wrapped package with nothing inside.
Directed by Rene Martinez, Jr.
Stars: Loye Hawkins, Patricia Fulton, Scott Lawrence, Cathy Davis, Wanda Starr
"I can't believe they're paying me for this."
Private dick Al Conners is hired to protect the wife of an African head of state. This assignment leads to him being mixed up with Big Daddy and a kidnapping scheme.
An awesome example of how not to make a movie! There is no evidence of editing, direction, acting, or common sense. The best thing about this film is the funky soundtrack, but even that is repetitive and will wear on your nerves by the end.
The clothing and set decor will constantly distract you from anything happening in the plot, which is a good thing. Dig those fly threads and all the wall to wall shag carpeting!
Dumb, cheap, and cheesy. Good for laughs though, especially the action scenes. Entertaining for those with a healthy sense of humor, but a poor example of blaxploitation filmmaking.
Directed by Arthur Roberson
Stars: Teddy Quinn, Durey Mason, Sandra Alexandra, Jeff Burton, Kathryn Jackson
"If you got so much and doing so well, why don't you take this poor child with you and give him some of this finery you're sporting around?"
The title to this film is unfortunate, because it's actually a sensitively made and engrossing work about a young bi-racial boy, the product of a prostitute mother and a white john. Boy (he has no proper name) grows up living with his loving grandmother and duplicitous preacher grandpa, never receiving any love or attention from his mom. It's quite touching in some respects.
The major miss-step in this film is the casting of Caucasian actors as Boy. It's a distraction that takes away from the power of the narrative. Also, there are some hardcore sex scenes that look as if they were added in afterwards to appeal to the raincoat crowd. The "rape" segment is especially offensive, shot with two actors who are obviously not the actors who star in the film.
If you can ignore the flaws, this is an interesting character study illustrating issues that are still relevant today.
Directed by Jurgen Goslar
Stars: Ray Milland, Cameron Mitchell, Trevor Howard, Britt Ekland, Ron Ely
"Listen to me, you black bastard- you don't shit without my permission!"
Banished to Africa because his wife is a slut, Max and Anna Von Erken find themselves involved in a dangerous land and their problems go beyond Anna's ability to keep her petticoats on.
This movie goes right off the rails into Crazy Town the minute you see the wealthy whites shooting slaves in a pond for fun. These assholes actually clap and cheer every time one of their victims is killed! There's also a monumentally repugnant scene of a newborn baby being ripped from his mother's arms and stomped to death.
Believe it or not, Slavers is not as trashy and outrageous as other slavery themed blaxploitation films of this ilk. (See Mandingo or Drum for real craziness.) It tries hard, with Ray Milland once again playing the evil hand manipulating events- the type of role he is great at portraying- but it isn't enough. The turnaround of Ron Ely's character is especially puzzling as there is no real explanation or onscreen transition that the viewer witnesses to make it believable. There is violence, cruelty, and bad behavior going on here, but no perversity, sexual or otherwise. (One can make the argument that the actual institution of slavery is perverse in itself, but you know what I mean, this is The Video Vixen, not African American Studies 101.) Good enough to make you strongly dislike white folks, but not good enough to make you hate them, which is what a good exploitative slavery flick is supposed to do!
Directed by Bill Brame
Stars: Paul Harris, Don Edmondson, Frank DeKova, Reginald Farmer, Curtis Price
"That bitch don't mean nothing but trouble, anybody who loves blood that much...you ought to let me do whatever she's supposed to take care of, I don't make as much mess."
In the battle between Black and Italian mobsters, the most ruthless killer is Serene, a transvestite psycho whose actions are the complete opposite of her name. The bitch IS vicious! Serene is a frightening character and her laugh is blood-curdling. Homegirl really deserved more screen time, the role is fascinating and very original for this genre.
Pasha runs the numbers racket in Harlem. He's a real OG to the max. Tony is the Italian mob boss who wants to take over Pasha's operation. He's already got a spy in Pasha's gang and believes he has his rival by the balls. Wrong.
I love this movie! The dialogue is authentic, the characters believable, the action fast and furious, and the story is rock solid. I felt a real affinity for the people who live in Pasha's hood. Make sure to pay attention to the soundtrack, it's fabulous- especially the funky ditty "Nigger Rich". Only a jive turkey wouldn't enjoy this movie!
Exploitation films made especially to target urban black movie-goers! For a brief and colorful moment in time, the flyest brotha's and the toughest sistah's ruled the cinema. Starring primarily black actors, these movies were the first to feature funk and soul soundtracks, inner-city vernacular, and the ultimate in Pimpwear.