BOSS NIGGER (1975) on YouTube for the first time.A star vehicle written, produced and starring Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson (with direction duties handled by journeyman director Jack "Creature of the Last Lagoon" Arnold), this honest-to-goodness blaxploitation western is no hidden gem or undiscovered classic. Once you get past the shock of seeing a 'PG' rated flick with so many casual utterances of the 'N' word (even though Fred's often referred to as just 'Boss') and the similarities to "Blazing Saddles" (black man becoming sheriff of a western town full of mostly hostile but also friendly white folks) you're left with a standard-issued plot about a town run by a corrupt mayor (R.G. Armstrong) in cahoots with a gang leader (William Smith) terrorizing the locals. A few Mexican stereotypes, a Sancho Panza-type sidekick for Fred to play off from (D'Urville Martin) and a young pretty black thing to hold his hand when he needs patching up (Carmen Hayward) lift things a bit when Fred's natural charisma runs a little dry. Though it's not a comedy "Boss Nigger" tries to be cute (Amos' 'Black Laws' running gag), deep (the good guys play a pretty heavy toll for their defiance) and contemporary (a 70's score plays in the soundtrack), making for an odd mixture of tones and styles that keeps the flick firmly anchored in the realm of the pleasantly forgettable.
BLACK LAGOON... "Creature of The Black Lagoon." Oh, it's too early! :-P
It has one of my favorite last lines in a movie.
Jive Turkey (1974)AKA Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes. This film is set in 1956. We know this by an opening title card, and also because every 10 minutes or so a character says “This is 1956!” So you can have a great time just trying to spot all the anachronisms. The movie is about a black mobster known as “Pasha,” and his struggles with both the Italian mob and crooked cops. This film is sloppy and ramshackle, but still enjoyable. The man who plays Pasha is great – I could listen to that voice all day. The film’s strangest (and best) thing is “Serene,” an enigmatic woman with a taste for homicide. Serene has a secret that’s not too hard to guess for anyone with eyes, but the reveal is still fun.
Dr Black ,Mr Hyde (1976)Directed by the guy who did "Blacula". I wish I picked a better one. From the title I thought this would be really fun but it was definitely not, nor as campy or exploitative as I hoped. Bernie Casey is fantastic as always by not cheapening the film and taking it seriously but unfortunately that works against the whole tone of the film by making it a boring ride. At one point I was hoping the music might save the experience, but, nope, even generic music in this one. Rosalind Cash is the leading lady and kind of bland in this role.
The Candy Tangerine Man (1975)Its surprising to see that only 4 years after Blaxploitation even became a thing that the genre was eating its own tail and quickly self destructing. The epitome of that is The Candy Tangerine Man, which catapulted its star, John Daniels, onto the equally fascinating Black Shampoo in 75.TCTM tries to imitate the greats of Blaxploitation, in particular The Mack, in a way that is reminiscent of a bad student film. Most hilariously is their version of The Mack's "I Choose You" scene where, in The Mack, a hooker changes from one pimp to another while they argue and fight around a pool table. In TCTM, the pimps gamble the hooker over a game of pool, and in their attempt to show "The Baron" (Daniels) as super cool they have him win the game of pool without even making a shot (i.e. the other guy breaks, sinks all the balls, then after he sinks the last ball he accidentally pots the white), in other words The Baron just stands there looking dumb (its what Daniels does best).Also, he is a pimp by night and a suburban family man by day, with his wife thinking he is a salesman or something. An interesting hook no doubt, except they do nothing with it. NOTHING! he just has a family in the background that they introduce at the beginning then you dont see them again until the epilogue. they have no impact on anything ever. Frustrating, Hilarious, Dumb, and a little fun in a "so bad its good" kinda way . A nice snapshot of the beginning of the end of Blaxploitation. Blaxploitationsploitation.
Everyone should be watching Black Shampoo today.
Coffy (1973)After learning her sister has been abusing drugs, Coffy goes after the drug dealers and pushers who introduced drugs to her sister in the first place. I love Pam Grier, and she pretty awesome in this. I just wish there was more blowing off the heads of drug dealers and less getting into fights with hookers...but it's all good. If you haven't seen it, I think it would be a great one for Revenge at the end of the month.
Pam Mother Fucking Grier, syringes getting shot out of shot guns and King George getting dragged behind the car are a few of my favorite things.
Super Fly (1972)Very interesting dissection of the vicious cycle of drugs and violence in the inner city. Priest's plot to get out of the cocaine business often seemed at odds with itself, but I feel like that was a commentary on the contradictory nature of a righteous drug dealer. I wanted him to succeed, but the montage of him unloading all of his product through production stills (really great, by the way) seemed like a commercial for cocaine, a sentiment I found out that star Ron O'Neal shared in later years. Overall, didn't expect the movie to be this biting in its social commentary. Glad I got to check it out, thanks Junesploitation!
This is the best Blaxploitatiin movie. It glorifies and had fun without losing the social message completely. It's not too dissimilar to The Mack in that way, except Priest gets away with it all so it feels much more condoning of drug culture. Best foot chase scene where Ron O'Neal goes F'in all out. Best soundtrack with Curtis Mayfield doing the eras best to perfection. The soundtrack has way more of a social conscious then the movie does, for example the Theme from Super Fly is actually Freddy's Dead (not Super Fly) where the lyrics are way more sympathetic to Freddy than the movie is. My favorite moment though is Ron O'Neal's delivery of one of his final lines "You better take real good care of me. Nothing, *nothiiing* better happen to one hair on my gorgeous head. Can you dig it? "We can dig it.
I forgot to mention Curtis Mayfield. You're right, he was great. I still can't get "Pusher Man" out of my head.
Ooga Booga (2013, dir. Charles Band)Hmmm. On the one hand, it's a late-period Full Moon movie, so it involves a puppet, it's super cheap and badly made with two or three sets and only five or six actors (though Stacey Keach and Karen Black both show up for a paycheck). But it's so crazy at times and so transgressive with its race elements that it really does harken back to the politically-charged days of true Blaxploitation. A med student with a promising future is murdered by a racist cop (whose name is Officer White) and his soul is transferred into a horribly racist tribal doll complete with a bone through his nose. I can't say it's a good movie, but I admire the crazy "Did they actually go through with this?" quality it had.
SAVAGE SISTERS (1974)This is another “Machete Maidens” movie (if you know that documentary, you know what I mean). A bunch of women are locked up in a remote jungle prison for their role in a revolution. Oh, and young-and-thin Sid Haig is here, hamming it up big-time. The movie fits the Blaxploitation bill thanks to Gloria Hendry being a total badass, except that she starts out as a villain in this one, torturing info out of the good girls, which was weird. Speaking of weird, I watched the movie on Youtube (oh, like you’ve never done that) and this version comes with host segments by a flabby guy in red tights calling himself “Commander USA.” I guess he was supposed to be the USA Network’s attempt at the TV horror-host thing in the ‘80s. This guy’s attempts at jokes set a new low/high for lame humor.
Truck Turner (1974)Hot-buttered soul man Isaac Hayes is a bounty hunter facing off against an array of killer pimps, madams, and other assorted ne'er do wells. This was pretty much EXACTLY what I want out of my Junesploitation experience. Not only is the movie pretty terrific, it also features a fantastic supporting cast including the great Yaphet Kotto at his most intense and Nichelle Nichols, who is a revelation as a legitimately scary madam. As soon as it ended I wanted to watch it again, and in a month this packed I can't imagine higher praise.
Blacula (1972)I can't believe I'd never seen this great movie from one of the kings of exploitation (Samuel Arkoff) and one of the great exploitation studios (American International). And it was only two weekends ago at Wonderfest that JB dropped the bomb on me that Blacula (William Marshall) was also the King of Cartoons on Pee Wee's Playhouse. My world is forever changed. FOR THE BETTER. Can't wait to watch the sequel with the sexy and bad-ass Pam Grier. I can't get enough. As the tagline on the DVD says, "that brother's bite was outta sight!"
What did you think of the musical performance?
Cleopatra Jones (Rental from youtube's UK Warner Brother page): I'm a bad motherf**cker and I am here for Junesploitation baby... This was cool and fun. It had some rockier parts but there was some great action that carried me through those bits. I want to be that cool, so I can stand on the conveyor belt for luggage at the airport, and kick some bad guy's ass. As for now I will stick to being a ninja.. shit...
Foxy Brown (1974) - First ViewingI know I’m way late to the party on this one. It’s great (although hateful and mean-spirited). As a vehicle to showcase Pam Grier? It’s perfect. She is so charismatic and fun to watch. A true movie star. See this movie. And Coffy. And Jackie Brown. And Escape From L.A. (ok maybe not that last one).
Black Cobra aka Cobra Nero (1987) first/last viewingFred Williamson stars as tough cop Robert Malone who is assigned to protect a witness of a murder by a gang of bikers. So, this is a pretty bad low budget action movie. The biker gang was so lame they rode around on dirt bikes and i guess lived under a highway with the homeless? I went in into this totally blind so I didn't know it was going to be a poorly dubbed film. I basically picked it because of the cover. I did find the first scene hilarious where Malone goes into a hostage situation with three masked gunmen and blast them to peices after he says "No way pal" to their demands.
I watched that one last year on Fred Williamson day. It was...rough.
Does a good transfer for Black Cobra exist? Every copy I've ever tracked down looks like a third our fourth generation VHS rip.
That's the one I saw, too.
Good question because that perfectly described the version I watched.
Black Mama White Mama (1973)I messed up -- I realized this wasn't a typical "Blaxploitation" movie too late (it was almost midnight/I was already too far in to start something new). I just randomly picked a Pam Grier movie on Netflix, and this one had the best description. It's a typical women-in-prison movie from the '70s, an entirely DIFFERENT exploitation category. And Pam Grier is the only person of color in the whole movie (aside from Filipino extras). Oh well.Long story short, pretty standard American International fare, Sid Haig delivers another classic Sid Haig performance, and Pam Grier's never NOT the foxiest. #NOREGRETSI shoulda picked a different movie (or something directed by Jack Hill).
Black Samurai (1977)Definitive. If someone told me they'd only be able to watch one Blaxploitation film in their lifetime, I'd recommend to them that this be it. Al Adamson (Dracula vs. Frankenstein) directs Enter the Dragon's afro'd icon Jim Kelly as a completely non-samurai secret agent for D.R.A.G.O.N. One of the coolest opening title sequences ever. I don't want to spoil anything. This movie is total class. If you can find it, watch it!