DOWNTOWN STRUTTERS (1975, 82 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.A 'black motorcycle gang rock sci-fi musical' (as Roger Ebert described it in his original review) that feels like a "Fat Albert" cartoon crossed with a watered-down "Apple"-style musical, "Downtown Strutters" dials down the violence, foul language and nudity the blaxploitation genre is known for. Trading the urban jungle for Southern California sunshine, this Corman-produced flick (Gene Corman, Roger's baby brother) milks its crazy-cool costumes, production values (Casabah Volt's love harem, the fuzz's cop car with GIANT flashing light and space sound, etc.), infrequent musical interludes and motorcycle stunt team for everything they're worth. The humor is as low-brow and hit-and-miss as post-"Naked Gun" ZAZ comedies, and having a 60 year-old journeyman director (William Witney) throwing everything at the screen to see what sticks doesn't help the across-the-board bad acting stand out. It earns bonus points for Dick Miller playing one of the flick's never-ending parade of Keystone Cops.Unlike "The Apple," "Downtown Strutters" isn't pretentious or full of shit. It knows its ridiculous and over-the-top goofy, and runs wild with its plot of a Colonel Sanders-type fast food tycoon (Norman Bartold) trying to get back at the black community with a dastardly plot (one slightly less crazy than the one in "Black Dynamite") with the assistance of the KKK riding again... on bikes. For a 'PG' movie it packs plenty of politically incorrect humor (white male detective dressing as a woman in black face to attract... can't repeat it here because BILL-MAHER-SPLOITATION! :-P). It's either famine (The Fantastics serenading Trina Parks in a dungeon) or feast (two siblings tearing their house apart while practicing 'black kung-fu'), but it's never boring and the outfits everyone wears (plus the beautiful black ladies wearing them) look FAAAAABULOUS! Worth a shot-in-the-dark blind viewing.
THE DRAMATICS! It's The Dramatics that are locked in a dungeon, not The Fantastics (who?). Sorry. :'(
Famine?! That scene with The Dramatics is my favorite in the movie! Instead of The Apple, which is a straight musical, I'd compare this more to Forbidden Zone; which is a good thing. This is easily one of my ten favorite Blaxploitation pictures. So cool that this is streaming now! It was impossible to get on dvd for a long-ass time.
TCM Underground has shown it a few times over the years. That's where I first discovered it, but either it didn't record on my DVR or the one time I started watching it I had to turn it off halfway because I found it annoying. But in a Junesploitation! mindset "Downtown Strutters" gives back as much love as you put into it. :-)
Super Fly (1972)A cocaine dealer decides he wants to get out of crime. But first... he needs to make a million dollars cash.There's not much else to the story than that, which results in a really repetitive film featuring many of the same scenes. There's a couple fights, but it's really not violent at all and fairly tame (other than an interestingly filmed sex scene). Still, it's absolutely carried by a terrific lead performance by Ron O'Neal who is dripping with coolness and charisma. It also has things I like in these movies like music montages, and some things to say about how tough it is to get out of crime once you're in. Not bad, but not great.
Get Christie Love (1974)It's a bit of a bridge between Cop day and Blaxploitation day for me. Unfortunately in a lot of ways it feels like the made for TV movie/pilot that it actually is and it only feels like a Blaxploitation movie due to having Teresa Graves as the lead. Most of the supporting cast is white presumably because they just adapted a crime novel and changed the main character to a Pam Grier homage/knockoff. There's also not much of a soundtrack to speak of which again probably goes back to it being a TV movie. Graves has some good moments but overall it's a pretty forgettable movie.
Truck Turner (1974)Oh this movie is all kinds of amazing! I could not stop smiling at the screen, then Yaphet Kotto turns up and takes an already amazing movie to another level. If it wasn't for Patrick and F This Movie I would never have thought about seeking this out. Now I have this movie in my happy, and the world is better for it!
If my happy isn't refilled regularly, the State department has to come put one of those Simpsons Movie-style domes over my house to contain potential radioactive leakage.
Doh - I meant to write hsppy place, which on consideration sounds just as werid.
haha Now I love considering something 'in my happy'!
It's now in the vernacular which I will place directly in my happy.
I'm running out of room on my shelves - about how many movies do you think I can fit in my happy place?This is my pick for the day too - can't wait to finally see it!
Sheba, Baby (1975)There's no way I'm going to go through Junesploitation without at least one Pam Grier movie. Having already seen a lot of her other, better regarded work, I decided to go with Sheba, Baby. I wasn't sure entirely what to expect given that it was directed by William Girdler who also made such classics as Day of the Animals, Abby (picture up top), and of course The Manitou. Given that resume this movie is comparatively down-to-earth as a simple story about Sheba working her way up the chain of criminals who had her father assaulted in an attempted shake-down.A few of the bad guys are pretty entertaining (and one henchman looks a lot like Wyatt Cenac). The action isn't great on a technical level but it has a couple fun set pieces. There's a boat chase and a threat of roller coaster decapitation. One could do a lot worse than this.
Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)Finding this movie was kind of a fluke. I was tweedling through Blaxpolaition movies on Google Play and saw this an Ossie Davis directed flick. And yeah I enjoyed it a lot. A 'Going back to Africa' fund is stolen in a kick ass heist, and it is up to Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson (seriously cool cop names), two Harlem detextives to find the 87 thousand dollars.I read on Wikipeadia, so I do take it with a grain of salt, that Cotton is considered the first Blaxploitation movie. And it's a really playful cop, heist, community, action movie. Though, to my uneducated eye, Cotton feels more like the movies Spike Lee would later make, than the likes of Coffee and Truck Turner. This movie has a great sense of place and community, and Davis takes time to look at issues of race and class and how the two intermingle. For this movie that is both fun and smart.
I kind of noticed with Truck Turner, that it was just a movie with black caricatures, rather than having anything to say about race/issues/etc.
Petey Wheatstraw the Devil’s Son in Law (1977) (First Time Viewing):This is my first Rudy Ray Moore movie. It didn’t blow me away but I’m still interested in checking out more of his stuff. There were some big laughs, and certainly some bizarre scenes, but the whole thing felt like a home movie which I wasn’t totally digging. Love that title though!
For what it's worth, pretty much all of his movies have that same home movie feel.
Lord Shango (1975, dir. Ray Marsh)Surprising little gem that's more drama than exploitation, in which a man dies in an accident, leaving his girlfriend devastated. Her mother seeks out a voodoo priest to bring the man back to life and take revenge on the Christians she blames for his death. The movie has a pretty slow pace, but isn't dull in the way that some other exploitation movies can be; I prefer to call it patient, which is something I miss from a lot of movies these days. The acting is strong, the atmosphere heavy. This was really good. I watched it on Blu-ray, but it's streaming on Brown Sugar for those who subscribe.
Scream Blacula Scream (1973, dir. Bob Kelljan)An entertaining mix of traditional vampire lore and voodoo. The final showdown is truly exciting. Pam Grier totally steals the show (how could she not), although William H. Marshall as the titular character is very good too.
BLACK COBRA 3: THE MANILA CONNECTION (1990) Stallone’s Cobra never became a franchise, but Fred Williamson’s ripoff version sure did. Williamson plays Malone, a tough Chicago cop who is once again recruited by Interpol, this time to travel to the Philippines to recover a stolen arms shipment. This is huge fun, with tons of low-budget fighting and gunplay, and Williamson continues to be just the coolest. EBONY, IVORY, AND JADE (1976)An all-female track team is abducted while overseas and must escape. There are a lot of subplots about the international intrigue surrounding the abduction, which slows the movie to a crawl. Star Roseanne Katon has a lot of cool martial arts moves, but she doesn’t command the screen like Pam Grier or Jeanne Bell. SPACE IS THE PLACE (1974)In which Blaxploitation crosses over with psychedelic films. Real-life musician and spiritual leader Sun Ra plays himself, in which he journeys to another planet to create paradise. Or something. This one's pretty much plotless, made up of nonsensical skits, crazy visuals and wild jazz music. Is it wrong to say it kind of reminded me a lot of Jodorowsky?
Space is the Place is legit!
Cleopatra Jones (1973)Tamara Jones is all smooth, slow-burn intensity as Cleo, until there’s a need for some serious ass-kicking. Then she makes full use of her 6-foot 2-inch frame to put the beatdown on the bad guys. The film has a tone issue at start: a comic scene with an unhinged Shelly Winters is followed by a harrowing scene of a young man going through heroin withdrawal. Eventually, things get sorted out and the movie finds a steady groove. There’s also great music by J.J. Johnson, and a seriously awesome Corvette Stingray. It may not be on the same level as Coffey or Foxy Brown, but it’s still pretty great.
That should be Tamara Dobson, not Jones.
I promise I wrote mine before I read yours but I think it's pretty funny that we ended on the same exact note.
Cleopatra Jones (1973)Tamara Dobson is Cleopatra Jones, a special agent of some sort (I don't remember if the particular agency is mentioned, but her I.D. specifies that she works for the President, apparently directly) who is tremendously skilled at kicking all of the asses. Also, the supporting cast includes Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, and Albert Popwell so you know you're in good hands all around. The villain is Shelley Winters as "Mother," and she goes so far over the top as to circle around the entire globe and end up over the over the top from which she began sooooooo...there's that.In all it's crazy entertaining and one of the highlights of Junesploitation so far. Thanks to Outlaw Vern I just became aware of a sequel, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (also starring Dobson, who's terrific), so that's a thing I'll be seeking out as soon as I can. While not quite up to the level of Coffy or Foxy Brown it's still a damn good time at the movies, sucka.
Well, at least you got Tamara's name right the first time - not to mentioned spelling "Coffy" correctly.
I like this unity Steve and JP! I remember watching tgis for a Junesploiation for the first time also! I agree with bith of the end notes for sure :)
Black Cobra (1987)This is basically the Italian copycat version of the Sylvester Stallone film Cobra (1986). Fred "The Hammer" Williamson is hired to protect a female photographer after she witnesses a murder by a biker gang. Mr. Williamson is great to watch as always and although it shares the exact same plot as Cobra, it still manages to be a silly yet entertaining action film. I'd say give it a watch.
Truck Turner (1974)"Be cool, pussy". Like Lindsay, this movie tickled my happy place too. I really loved the opening credits, with the city feeling really gritty and lived in. There were a couple of ridiculously long chase scenes on foot, but set to the rhythms of Issac Hayes (who also plays the titular Truck). Dorinda was quite a character! Such a potty mouth!
Slaughter double bill bears moderately entertaining fruit. Slaughter (1972, dir. Jack Starrett) on Amazon Video/StarzThis one wastes no time in getting the plot rolling – hero’s parents are murdered, hero survives attempt on his life, hero botches murder of the perpetrators before booking it South of the border to nail them proper. Slaughter (Jim Brown) is cool as ice, though not the most compelling of protagonists; Rip Torn is unhinged as the murderous gangster/jilted lover; and the late Don Gordon is endearing as Slaughter’s partner. There’s some compelling action (some shot through fish eye lens, oddly enough) peppering the fairly floundering proceedings. I was most enthralled with the infiltration scenes in the casino/mob den. Slaughter's Big Rip Off (1973, dir. Gordon Douglas) on YouTubeOpens with a bang, and then proceeds to meander for the better part of an hour. This heist-centered sequel is more preoccupied with Slaughter shaking down fools and dragged-out dialogues than slam-bang fistfights and shootouts (there are some, but not enough). Then things get quite tense before Slaughter goes into full-on murder mode in the last 20 minutes. There’s also a safe-cracking scene accompanied by offscreen lovemaking, which has to count for something.
Glitter (2001) (I know, it's a BIG stretch) Dir. Vondie Curtis HallHoly hell why did it take me so long to endure this tragedy? Seeing Padma Lakshmi trying to pull off her best Appolonia impression is worth the price of admission alone. Terence Howard playing a douche (himself basically), Mariah writing a song on a Yamaha DX7 (synth geek in me - that's one of the most impossible synths to program, straight up pain in the ass), Stephen Dorff/Norman Reedus dick producer who at one point tells her friends to shut the fuck up, calls one of them a fat ass and he's the leading man?! And what the hell is Terence Blanchard doing the score for?! This movie really made me miss pre cartoon boobie Mariah.
I was thinking about watching Mo Money so anything goes.
Woah Chaybee, you put yourself through that film? I haven't managed to yet haha.
Foxy Brown (1974, dir. Jack Hill)An obvious choice, I know, but I hadn't seen this before and the DVD has been sitting on my shelf for months.Apparently Foxy Brown was initially supposed to be a Coffy sequel, but got changed to a standalone movie at the last second. Maybe it should've been a sequel, now it feels like a (slightly) inferior copy of Coffy instead. Don't get me wrong, it's great, but it suffers in comparison. That said, I'll never tire of watching badass Pam Grier kicking ass and taking names.
Mikko, it is a good obvious choice though! No arguing with Pam Grier ass-kicking for a Junesploitation pick! I understand what you mean about the comparison. But I really love both and try not to compare, even thoygh it is hard and Coffy is better. I just love seeing more of Pam Grier too... Sighh... She rocks all the socks.
Black Dynamite (2009): Can you dig? Hell yeah! Well this was a little delight! The section where they use Greek and Roman mythology to help solve the case was inspired! It has a lot of love for Blacksploitation, which adds to the humour of the film. I found it very funny and entertaining. It might not be for everyone but I really enjoyed watching this. Plus I am now adding the little singing of 'Dynamite, Dynamite!' To every sentence I just wrote in my head!
I do very much dig this movie. You're right it is made from love, and it is very funny
"Ha! I threw that shit before I came in the room!" I love Black Dynamite so much. I really want to see Michael Jai White do more comedy and more stuff as good as BD. Dainomite! Dainomite!
Thick as Thieves http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0147599/?ref_=nv_sr_3One of my top 10 favorite comedies ever and my favorite Jai White performance. Directorial debut of the same director, Scott Sanders, who also just happens to be a lebelmate of mine :) https://medium.com/@MatteoUrella/reagan-bombs-a-conversation-with-scott-sanders-x-jesse-tittsworth-62cd4f5f10ea?cn=bWVudGlvbg%3D%3D
"But Black Dynamite, I sell drugs to the community." "Sarcastically, I'm in charge." Black Dynamite is endlessly quotable and probably an all-time top 5 spoof/parody.
Anaconda Malt Liquor gives you, Woooooooo!Militant turns startled. He said something to me in Chinese like, 'Boo coo sow!', sounded like some cartoon shit.
Velvet Smooth (1976)I want to preface by saying that this movie is awesome, but the opening scene is edited together like a panic attack. It certainly starts out cranked up to 11. There is so much going on in this movie at certain times. The fight scenes are intense, the music is both amazing and super eerie, and everyone is a badass. Absolutely check this out!
Blacula (1972)So, I kinda loved this. I haven't seen many blaxploitation movies but this might be my favorite. I am attempting to watch Blackenstein and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde to make a Bluniversal blonsters blilogy. A few great one liners and just the fact that he's a black Dracula gave me all I needed. 8 out of 10
All part of the Blark Bluniverse!
A place I'd rather be in than the one currently in theaters (VAN-HELSING-SPLOITATION!). :'(
Foxy BrownUnbelievably, this was my first time watching this. It's glorious. I love Coffy, but I think I like this even better. Pam Grier is great, of course, but the real kicker is the ending! It's stylish and sexy, and just when I thought Sid Haig wasn't gonna show up, there he was!
Coffy (1973)Ultimately, I truly liked this movie. I thought Pam Grier was amazing (though perhaps her a-la-amadala jamaican accent left something to be desired), as expected. But I actually thought that the scenes of action and general exploitation were handled with a lack of artistic merit. That said, of course, exploitation is exploitation, so why am I whining. In the end though, I was shocked at the deftness with which certain scenes were handled- scenes of silent thinking and dialogue that I thought were incredibly well done. Thrilled to have watched this movie to day. This makes me wish every day was Blaxploitation day.
Truck Turner (1974) Much like Lindsay and most everyone in this thread, I'm very lucky to now have this movie in my happy. I loved this movie, Issac Hayes is so likeable even when he's being a total ass. I loved the relationship between Truck and Jerry. The fight scenes, shootouts, and car chases were all really well done and I was surprised with how intense they were. Yaphet Kotto is amazing insulting, screaming, and spitting, his way through the movie. With all this greatness I still can't get over the fact that I swear to god, Annie just sat in a puddle of cat pee in Trucks car at the end of the film. Come on Truck, what are we doing here?
Truck Turner (1974)Great recommendation. I feel like a void in my life has finally been filled by finally catching up with this treasure. Blaxploitation movies are notoriously unevenly paced but this one hums from start to end, I think because it plays like two films in one. The first half plays like a buddy comedy/action romp and then halfway through, Harvard Blue shows up, shit gets real, Hayes gets on the wrong side of some Justice League of Pimps Syndicate, and it becomes a full on revenge picture. I was always aware that this was out there, but I think having heard "Hello Children" one too many times may have poisoned my perception of Isaac Hayes as a badass. My only gripe and it is so very minor, is the that when it comes to throwing down with the hands, Hayes ain't exactly Jason Statham, he's more like a stiffer Jason Voorhees. That said, everything about this film is amazing, including Hayes. The score is provided by Hayes and his Hot Buttered Soul crew and it is fantastic. This has everything: Uhura as a crazed madame, Dick Miller as a lawyer, Stymie from the Little Rascals as a prison guard, even a shopping cart full of bagels.
Fear of a Black Hat (1993)Rusty Cundieff (in his directorial debut) and Darin Scott's Spinal Tap-like rap satire made before their masterpiece Tales from the Hood is VERY similar to CB4 (a Dante's Peak-Volcano situation) and it's about as good as that movie. Sometimes very funny (some of the parodies are really great which include New Jack City, C&C Music Factory, PM Dawn etc.), it's also an interesting pre-cursor to how well Cundieff directs comedy which he would later do with Chappelle's Show. I didn't love the movie at first but there are so many jokes that after a while it wore me down and I was laughing in appreciation for how committed to the bit everyone was.
I recently watched CB4 and Fear Of A Black Hat black to black and I liked FOABH a lot more. It felt like they did a lot more with a lot less, cast-wise, budget, soundtrack etc. Fun fact: Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther) appears in both movies
I'd intended to watch a lot more, but this day seemed to be over as soon as it began.Burlesque in Harlem (1954, dir. William Alexander)This was just a palate cleanser. A short (less than an hour,) super simply filmed showcase of several black music and comedy acts of the era. Honestly, they were all pretty lame. I'd guess the comedians (including Pigmeat Markham) had to do cleaned up versions of their acts instead of the usual ones. One or two of the dancer's costumes were surprisingly skimpy, and the singer who did the final act is the fattest woman I've ever seen successfully do the splits.Neighbor Hoodz (1991, dir. James Tucker & Lemy Hassan)Crazy chintzy shot-on-video cop/horror picture. A good girl is introduced to a drug dealer who gets her hooked on crack, and convinces her to quit her job and runaway from home, and her mom and an interracial buddy cop duo (including the movie's co-director) try to track her down. She begins to turn into a green/fuzzy-faced monster whenever she smokes. She knifes the dealer, and begins luring other men to her home to slice them up. One of the guys is a super young Morris Chestnut, before Boyz N the Hood!! It's not on his imdb page, but his name's in the end credits. It's aka Devil's Snow.
Black Dragon's Revenge (1975)I took the recommendation and it was such a good idea! This was great and exactly what you want a Junesploitation movie to be. There was terrible dubbing, the "swoosh" noises with kicks and punches, and Ron Van Clief managing to be super cool in a yellow shirt with little flowers on it. I wasn't totally digging it in the first half, but by the end, I was all in. And as a bonus, this movie will lead me into kung fu day tomorrow!!!!!!
Truck Turner (1974)I don't know how you could be looking to watch a Blaxpoitation movie and not be fuckin thrilled with Truck Turner - it's got all the ingredients and was obviously made with care - there isn't really anything to not love about it.
So so good!
Blackenstein (1973)The Empire Strikes Black of my brology. Actually, it's not as good as Blacula but I found some joy in it. It doesn't make much sense but what am I expecting from these movies. I just love that they're a thing. I don't like all the Bond movies but I just think it's cool to have 78 of them. I'm sorry to keep doing this but I would loved The Blummy and The Blinvisible Man. 6 out of 10
Cleopatra Jones (1973) First watch.Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra) is a smooth special agent with an amazing wardrobe, a badass car, and a bone to pick with drug traffickers.This is a fun, fun movie. The music and fashion are great, and the film's pacing is just right.The biggest surprise for me was Shelley Winters wild performance as "Mommy", the pervy, crazy, drug lord. I had no clue Ms. Winters had that in her.
Blacula (1972)William Marshal is legit spooky and I hate to buy into this whole shared universe thing but I really wished Christopher Lee has been Dracula in this... I give this 3.5 Bloody Mary's.P.S Blent you're forgetting The Blolf Man. Actually the more I think about it the more I think someone like Jordan Peele or Richard Ayoade could make an awesome politically charged remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon. It looks like the new Dark Universe might need someone with a point of view...
I did forget The Blolf Man! I agree with everything you are saying. Give the whole thing to Jordan and let him decide what to do with it!
Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976)I did it. This was my Everest...since I found out about this category 2 weeks ago. Again, not a perfect movie but there aren't a ton of those any way. I would say it's better than Blackenstein but worse than Blacula. All of them are watchable. And this one's got the guy from Revenge of the Nerds. He's Dr. Black. When he changes, he turns white. What does it all mean?!? 7 out of 10
Mean Johnny Burrows (1976) "Brutal!..Blasting!..Blazing! I know some people like this one, but I really struggled with it. There were some cool moments, such as any time Fred Williamson struck a pose or let his Cool ooze forth. But the directing was very sub-par (also Williamson)and the story wasnt that interesting. Johnny Burrows. A man who single handedly took on the Viet Cong Army
Truck Turner (1974) Playing catch up for a few days unfortunately. Not every junesploitation goes to plan...but it is movies like this that make Junesploitation the awesome annual event that so many of us look forward to. Not sure I would have even heard of this movie without the benefit of previous Junesploitations and I'm so grateful to have found it. How does one make being a "skip tracer" excessively cool? One hires Isaac Hayes as the skip tracer.