|Vintage Pulp||Aug 13 2021|
Blaxploitation flick goes slapstick and the result is bold but bad.
This poster for the blaxploitation flick Darktown Strutters, aka Get Down and Boogie, is a high quality piece of art. The movie it promotes, conversely, is a low quality piece of art, one of those efforts any rational assessment concludes is an utter disaster, but which has advocates, among them Quentin Tarantino. The advocates are wrong. Tarantino—and it pains us to say this—is wrong. This musical-alleged-comedy about a female motorcycle gang in L.A. battling the owner of a fried chicken franchise is about as entertaining as watching a circus clown punch himself repeatedly in the nose. If you watch it with your Vaudevillian cortex activated you might get a few bemused laughs. And if you dig into it with a pickaxe and mining helmet you might find commentary upon cultural appropriation, feminism, capitalism, and law enforcement. But if you examine it from a technical point of view you'll simply cringe, even factoring in its highly limiting three-day shooting schedule. Since when does lofty intent stand in for basic execution? We missed that memo. But we do love the poster (by an artist we were not able to identify), and we like the promo images below. They show Edna Richardson, Bettye Sweet, Shirley Washington and, front and center, Trina Parks, who thankfully had other opportunities to show her actual talent. Darktown Strutters premiered in the U.S. today in 1975.
Darktown StruttersGet Down and BoogieTrina ParksEdna RichardsonBettye SweetShirley WashingtonRoger E. Mosleyposter artcinemablaxploitationmovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 20 2020|
Which is louder—his shotgun or his wardrobe?
Above you see two posters for the blaxploitation flick Hit Man, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1972 and stars NFL player-turned-actor Bernie Casey as a man from Oakland who blows into L.A. to investigate his brother's murder. His brother ran a used car lot, but had gotten on the bad side of some local criminals. How he did that, who these bad people are, and what they're up to are the questions at the crux of the narrative, and when Casey finally learns the truth he's horrified and infuriated in equal measure, which turns him into a leisure-suited revenant with murder in his eyes and a gun in his hands.
What is neither horrifying nor infuriating is that Pam Grier is in this, which makes it a must watch in our book, and she holds nothing back, sporting a quantum leap forward in afro science, and proving once again that she was a fearless performer. Nevertheless, she and Casey can't make Hit Man good despite their best efforts. But on the other hand, it isn't awful either, and in the middle isn't a bad place to be in b-cinema, considering how deeply terrible the films can get.
Hit Man has a couple of miscellaneous notes of interest. A bit of filming takes place at Watts Towers, Simon Rodia's italo folk art monument that was designated a historic site in 1990. We've seen the place in person and we loved it because its mosaics reminded us of the type you see on modernist architecture in Barcelona. The production photo of Grier in a long black dress, below, was shot at the site. It's one of the most famous images of her, and one of the most badass too.
Hit Man also makes use of a location called Africa America, an open air animal preserve of the type made famous by Tiger King. We can't find any trace online that it ever existed, so there's no way to know for sure whether it was a real zoo, an MGM set, or something in between, such as a private ranch dressed up for filming. But it plays an important role in the plot, as do its hungry lions. If they'd eaten a few of the worst script pages, and a couple of bad supporting actors, and maybe Casey's purple leisure suit, Hit Man might be better than just okay. But lions are finicky like all cats, and most amateur film critics.
Los AngelesWattsMetro-Goldwyn-MayerNFLHit ManBernie CaseyPam GrierLisa MooreMarilyn JoiRoger E. MosleySimon Rodiaposter artcinemablaxploitationmovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Sep 23 2017|
What do you get when you put a bunch of convicts on an island? A lot of dead convicts.
Before Escape from New York there was Terminal Island. And before Terminal Island there was, well, we aren't sure. Maybe The Big Bird Cage or She Devils in Chains. Released in June 1973, and eventually making it to Denmark today in 1977, you see the Danish promo poster for Kvindefængslet på Djævleøen, aka Terminal Island above. The movie stars Don Marshall, Marta Kristen, Barbara Leigh, Ena Hartman, and cult fave Phyllis Davis, plus it features both Tom Selleck and Roger E. Mosley, a duo that would later be cast as besties Thomas Magnum and T.C. on the television show Magnum P.I. What's the plot? It follows the expected blueprint—tough convicts left to fend for themselves except for the occasional supply drop, women in mortal peril from every inhabitant with a functioning dick, and one good-hearted prisoner who doesn't belong there at all. The whole set-up degenerates into a savage confrontation between two opposing factions, predictably fighting over the possession of women, who can only hope to choose between abusers and protectors. While Terminal Island is an early entry in the fertile penal colony genre, what you really want to know is whether it's actually any good, right? Well, let's just say it's good enough to watch if you're a fan of seventies b-movies. We'd like to offer you a better endorsement, but we really can't.
DenmarkKvindefængslet på DjævleøenTerminal IslandDon MarshallMarta KristenBarbara LeighEna HartmanTom SelleckRoger E. MosleyPhyllis Davisposter artcinemamovie review