“Slaughter” is yet another classic blaxploitation picture brought to us by our good friends at American International Pictures. I firmly believe that without these guys, there still wouldn’t be a place for black filmmakers like Spike Lee, the Hughes Brothers, and the Wayans Brothers. But please, don’t hold that against them; they’re really good people who’ve put out some great movies. You can’t blame them on the fools that have followed in their wake. If you want to look at a positive protégé of the blaxploitation movie, look at Mario Van Peebles’ “Baadasssss!” or any Quentin Tarantino picture. Hell, these guys have produced a litany of classics which have made their way onto this website (here are some: “The Abominable Dr. Phibes,” “Dr. Phibes Rises Again,” “Black Mama White Mama,” “Blacula,” “Sisters,” “Coffy,” and “Foxy Brown”).
Done clicking? Good. I got reviewing to get to, and I can’t sit around with my thumb up my ass while you catch up on history, fool. If I don’t get this done, Jim Brown will kick my ass.
That’s right, kids. NFL Hall of Famer, the greatest running back of all time, and ass-kicking nonthespian Jim Brown is the star of this picture, playing the titular character Slaughter! I just can’t say Slaughter!’s name without that exclamation point, because Slaughter! just kicks that much ass in as non-emotive a way possible.
But really, that’s okay. When you’re a former Green Beret avenging the murder of your parents, you’re not expected to do much other than kick a lot of ass, take a lot of names, and be stoic and brooding. Jim Brown does all these things and more. It doesn’t really matter that he can’t act, you can just look at the guy and tell he’s going to kick someone’s ass, because he’s still fresh out of his playing days and probably the most ripped motherfucker on the planet at this time. Seriously.
So, somewhere along the hunt for revenge, Slaughter! gets into trouble with the authorities. Turns out busting into the airport with your car, gunning down some mobsters in cold blood, ruining a US Treasury investigation, and then chasing down an airplane (!!!) in the of the most awesomely lop-sided car vs. plane chases ever isn’t exactly smiled upon by A.W. Price (Cameron Mitchell), your token racist authority figure. Seems he’s got a job for Slaughter! in exchange for dropping the murder rap. And that job is to go after Hoffo (Rip Torn, holy shit!) and his band o’thugs.
But even Jim Brown can’t do it alone. He needs help, and this is where we get our token white sidekick and overall sneakthief Harry (the excellent Don Gordon, with a pretty good role considering he’s not Slaughter!), the token black girl/groupie/pretend reporter/Treasury agent Kim (Madeline Clark, whose character wears a lot of hats in this film), and the token white love interest/Mafia doll/Hoffo birthday present Ann (Stella Stevens, her two best assets constantly on display plot be damned), who actually doesn’t get dismissed from the film after she takes her clothes off a bunch.
Featuring prominently one of the most vicious beatings of a woman ever captured on film (I guess Ann never heard the phrase “Once you go black, you get your ass kicked by your Guinea boyfriend”), some good car chases, some great Jim Brown chases, some excellent comedy from all parties, some weird fish-eye lens shots of long-distance action, an excellent Billy Preston themesong in the “Shaft” tradition, and most surprising of all, gun battles in which people actually run out of bullets, and not just when it makes for more drama.
That Slaughter! never fails to make an entrance, whether it’s leaping through a window or strolling in a pimpriffic tux into an all-white underground casino where he sticks out like a gigantic Negro sore thumb. This one’s almost too good to be true and a hell of a lot better than I ever expected.