Posts Tagged ‘Blaxploitation’

Black Dynamite

September 17, 2008

I was watching clips of Dolemite (don’t ask) tonight when I stumbled across a blaxploitation trailer I’d never seen before. I clicked on it and found myself watching the red band promo for Black Dynamite. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only is it a new movie (with Michael Jai White of all people), but it’s also not a spoof! I think we’ve got a real live blaxploitation move on our hands here, gang.

Needless to say, I’m excited.

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Intellectual Stimulation

February 1, 2008

I love it when something I do basically for giggles becomes legitimately interesting. For example, on MLK weekend, I just posted some of my old blaxploitation movie reviews, with little postscript commentaries about the movie or something the movie illustrated and the trailers that I was able to dig up on the movie. Whatever, more of me promoting myself, right?

Well, that’s what it was until The Social Media Project guy (I assume the poster is male, but I could be wrong… and I really wish s/he had a link I could promote) showed up and turned the discussion of Shaft’s plaid pants into a discussion of black culture, blaxploitation movies in general, and how Soul Plane is just as awful for black urban culture as Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector is awful for white Southern culture. It’s been awesome to have my intellectual itch scratched by someone, even though as usual I went off with insanely long answers comparing Ice Cube’s XXX to Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken.

It may not be good reading to you guys, but I sure as hell am enjoying it. As both an English major and a former graduate student, I love nothing more than to ramble on about stuff no one but me and a few other like-minded people care about while pretending that we’re talking about stuff non-film nerds are interested in. It’s a gift, what can I say?

It’s been a greatly pleasing development for me; a rare chance to stretch the ol’ brain a bit now and then over the course of a couple of days. I generally try to keep my nerdery to myself, since I doubt that many people are interested in comparisons of Eddie Murphy and Jerry Lewis. I’ve been looking forward to every comment, and I’ll be more than a little disappointed when the discussion comes to an end. I love this kind of stuff, but I have no idea how to artificially stimulate this sort of discussion.

In Honor of Dr. MLK – Slaughter!

January 21, 2008

There are very few people that, if I ran into them on the street, I’d be outright afraid of them should I say anything to them. One of these few men is NFL legend, actor, activist, and generally bad dude Jim Brown. I’m not talking about Jim Brown from his heyday (who wouldn’t be afraid of the meanest running back in NFL history, who’d rather run through a guy than run around a guy?), I’m talking about Jim Brown now, at 71 years of age.

In addition to being the best player in NFL history, and not a pussy like Franco Harris, Jim Brown also has quite a good list of acting credits to his name. From his first role in the western Rio Conchos to his breakout role in The Dirty Dozen, to his amazingly good performance in the otherwise bloated penis-fest Any Given Sunday, Jim Brown has made his mark on cinema.

I think my favorite movie of his, if only for the Black Rambo factor and some hilariously odd situations, is the 1972 blaxploitation classic, Slaughter! Read the review to see why I can’t say Slaughter! without adding an exclamation point. It’s a great movie, Jim Brown is incredibly charismatic and entertaining, and I consider it one of the better films to come out of that era, despite following the template so closely.

More importantly than that, Jim Brown gives back to his community in a way that would undoubtedly make Dr. King proud. Through his Amer-I-Can foundation, he works with troubled youths at risk for falling in with gangs in both LA and Cleveland, which you don’t see Wesley Snipes doing. He’s also been a tireless and outspoken advocate for civil rights, the rights of former NFL players, and bettering society in general.

You may not agree with Jim Brown all the time, but you can respect a man who puts his beliefs out there, doesn’t pull punches, and tells it like he sees it. He’s never shied away from controversy, despite the fact that it’s probably cost him money over the long run. You got to give credit to a guy who, literally, puts his money where his mouth is.

In Honor of Dr. MLK – Shaft

January 20, 2008

Shaft is, without a doubt, one of the best movies made in the 70s. Nothing so perfectly captured a movement, a filmmaking style, a music style, and clothing style in one fell swoop like this classic Gordon Parks slice of cinema. Check out my review here, if you wish to learn yourself about Shaft and his views on racial and ethnic harmony.

That’s one of the things I admire most about Shaft, both the movie and the character. Unlike other blaxploitation movies (I’m looking at you, Dolemite), not all white people in Shaft are evil. Hell, Shaft’s friends with every sort of group, and enemies with every other sort of group. You could hang out with Shaft, no matter if you’re white, gay, black, or even a woman. But you better not cross him, ’cause Shaft don’t take no shit off of anybody. How often do you get a strong hero that is so tolerant, especially in the 70’s? Shaft even tolerates hippies, and the History Channel told me black people hated hippies!

Anyway, long story short, Shaft is an excellent movie, and we should all strive to be and dress more like him. So next time some gangster is hassling you, throw his sorry ass out the window.

On a more serious note, Richard Roundtree survived breast cancer in 1993, and has been a tireless advocate for cancer screenings ever since. Make sure you screen yourself (and women on the bus or passed out at the bar) for breast cancer. It’s one of the most common forms of cancer for women, and the deadliest cancers in men after prostate cancer. So seriously, feel a boob and save a life.

Here’s a bonus clip for Newscoma:

In Honor of Dr. MLK – Blacula

January 20, 2008

So, I was thinking of a way in which I could pay homage to the good Doctor, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose holiday gives us a day off of work in the middle of January. I mean, he did that for me, so the least I could do is return the favor for him. I figured what better way to pay tribute to the man than to pay tribute to the film industry that carried on his legacy from 1971-1984, the blaxploitation film industry!

Over at the old Living Corpse (now Film Sewer), every February was Blaxploitation History Month. I loved it, because not only did it allow me to pay homage to some of my favorite 70’s sleaze movies, it also kept us topical and allowed us to kill a month with a great, inventive theme while digging deep into the old American International Pictures film archives. Plus, topless Pam Grier.

So, over the next couple of days, I’ll be reposting some of my old reviews, some trailers, and all the assorted things that I love about blaxploitation cinema. Let’s start with my favorite blaxploitation horror movie so far (I’ve yet to see Abby), the epic 1972 classic, Blacula. The review is here, the trailer is below.

What about you guys? Got any favorite blaxploitation movies I should check out for next month?

Shaft (1971) Film Review 5/5

February 9, 2006

That Shaft (Richard Roundtree) truly is one bad mother… well, I’d best shut my mouth, even though I’m only talkin’ ‘bout Shaft. Can you dig it?

Even if you’re white, “Shaft” is one of the blaxploitation movies that can really reach across all colors and barriers, simply because Shaft is such a cool sonofabitch. Everyone likes him. Black Panthers? Shaft’s friends. Blind people? Shaft’s friends. Gay bartenders? Shaft’s friends. Hippies? Shaft’s friends. Jews? Shaft’s friends. Old Italian cops? Also Shaft’s friends. Shaft truly is one of the people in this world who reaches out across all races, creeds, philosophies, and barriers simply through the power of his awesome fashion sense (I want that black leather coat he’s got) and incredible coolness.

Now, Ron, you mentioned all sorts of people, but not women. Is Shaft a friend to the ladies? Well, that depends. Do you mean ‘friend’ as in treats women well, or do you mean ‘friend’ as in ‘has a strong pimp hand and puts the bitches in their place, his bed’? If you said the second one, then Shaft truly is a friend to everyone. Shaft has a hot black girlfriend, and he fucks a hot white woman. Once he’s done fucking the white bitch, he does what every man dreams of; he tells her to get the hell out of his apartment and not to let the door hit her in the ass on the way out! When his girlfriend says that she loves him, he says ‘Yeah, I know. Take it easy.’

Can you see why Shaft is everyone’s hero (except feminists, who don’t count as people)? Brother has a way with the bitches that most men could not get away with today, AND he’s down with O.P.P. Yeah, you know him.

Shaft’s a cool character, to be sure, but does the movie do him justice? Well, the first key to a successful blaxploitation flick is to be cool, and “Shaft” the movie is very cool. It’s probably aged the best out of all the 70’s flicks I’ve seen in my many years of watching late-night TV. A lot of films from the period come off as cheesy, but “Shaft” takes itself seriously, and no amount of 70’s lingo can detract from a flick this gritty and exciting. If anything, it makes the movie better.

Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn)’s daughter Marcy (Sherri Brewster) is kidnapped, but nobody knows who did it. Bumpy, the HNIC of Harlem’s whores, drugs, and numbers racket, has a lot of enemies. On one hand, the Black Panthers lead by Ben Buford (Christopher St. John) hate him for the way he’s poisoning their community. On the other hand, the Mafia want Harlem, because they know that black people love to do drugs, have sex with whores, and gamble illegally. On a third hand, you’ve got the cops, lead by Det. Vic Androzzi (Charles Cioffi), who want this shit stopped before it becomes an all-out war in the streets.

In the middle of all this? Shaft, the only thread these four groups have in common. How’s he gonna get out of this and still manage to save his own ass?

Driven by Richard Roundtree’s coolness and a spectacular movie score from Isaac Hayes, the likes of which no one could do today, “Shaft” excels not just as the biggest and arguably best serious blaxploitation flick, but as one of the all-time greatest and most influential films from the early 1970’s. Shaft truly is a cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about.

Slaughter (1972) Film Review 4/5

June 7, 2005

“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.