Friday, February 20, 2015


Today's session involves a classic teamup of superstars allied against The Man and a most nefarious plan.

It begins with a black man doling out food to other black people who are apparently imprisoned by a group of white men. He craftily hides a crowbar to use to get out of his own room, and after hiding amongst a roomful of corpses of black men, he overpowers a guard, grabs a weapon and escapes from some compound. With others in pursuit, this man finds a encounters a young couple camping nearby - the boyfriend, a young Corbin Bernsen - and motivates them to drive him to safety.
After a title sequence, with The Impresions singing the title track as we see record producer Jimmy Lait (Jim Brown) and his woman, Wendy Kane (Shelia Frazier) leisurely enjoying time together, they are acosted by the young couple, who brings them to the man who escaped - who turns out to be a friend of Jimmy's, House (Junero Jennings).

Rushed to the hospital, Jimmy tries to find out from House what has happened, but House is too weak to say anything other than vague references that, "They're out to get us... all of us!" Jimmy has a session to get to, so Wendy stays to keep an eye on House. However, the men who were after House have located him - they kill him and take Wendy with them.
Those of a certain age will recognize Head Honky Henchman (billed as "Keep"), Howard Platt who became known as Officer Hopkins, "Hoppy" on SANFORD AND SON, which makes for a very strange dissonance - like seeing Paul Benedict, the friendly British neighbor Mr. Bentley from THE JEFFERSONS as a racist slave owner in MANDINGO.
Jimmy doesn't take the murder of his friend and the abduction of his woman lying down - especially after they attempt to run him down... and fail, spectacularly.

Jimmy flies to Chicago to enlist the help of his friend, Jagger Daniels (Fred Williamson), who's dubious at first, but it takes a ham-fisted attempt on both their lives to make him a believer.
Wendy is taken back to the compound where she meets the Head Honky Honcho, white supremacist Howard Feather (Jay Robinson) who has a dastardly plan.

Racist scientist, Dr. Fortero (Richard Angarola) has come up with a biological agent that will only affect Black people, while leaving other ethnicities unaffected (read:alive), and the plan is to introduce it into the water supply of several American cities with large Black populations - Washington D.C., Detroit and Los Angeles to start.
Jagger & Jimmy head to New York City to enlist the help of their mutual friend, kung-fu master Mister Keyes. Mister doesn't need much convincing, as they find him fending off corrupt NYPD officers who attempt to frame him. With Mister also on board, the trio start to get to the bottom of things.
 They foil another attempt on their lives and capture the culprit - Keep! To get him to talk, Jagger sends out for Royalty - The Countess, The Empress & The Princess - a multi-ethnic trio of dominatrixes who go to work on Keep and get him to talking, spilling the plan - however, when given back to the ladies, he drops dead of fright before they start again.
Informed of the scheme, the trio start the mandatory kicking of asses to foil the evil plan - enlisting help in Detroit and D.C., they successfully come out on top. What's left is to return to L.A. to rescue Wendy and to cut the head off of this particular snake. And is there any doubt that they're successful in stomping The Man's ass into the ground?

Gordon Parks Jr.'s follow-up to the iconic SUPER FLY, also proved to be a blaxploitation classic, being the first time 3 major black action stars team up. The trio was also enlisted for the western TAKE A HARD RIDE, also a worthy watch, but doesn't have the 'Kill Whitey!' vibe.
Verdict - TOTALLY GUILTY. You can't get much guiltier of being White than planning genocide...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


After a long hiatus...

HEAR YE, HEAR YE... Court is again back in session!

A controversial choice, mainly because it's so on the nose in so many ways, it'll be uncomfortable to discuss - which means that it's a perfect candidate, especially considering that 2014 was not one of the best years for The Negro.

Set in the 'future' 1991 - 18 years after the end of the previous ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES - where apes have been domesticated as pets, originally to replace dogs and cats who've been wiped out by a plague, and due to their intelligence have essentially been converted into a slave class, doing menial work and household tasks. It also appears that the government has now evolved into a police state.

Returning from ESCAPE is circus owner Armando (Ricardo Montalban) and a now-adult Caesar (Roddy McDowell), whom was hidden with Armando's circus as an infant in ESCAPE. 

Caesar is hiding in plain sight, as he would be immediately killed if discovered. It is also the first time that he is in human society, and shocked by what he sees, he slips up and draws attention; Armando attempts to cover, and they are separated - Armando taken by the police for questioning and Caesar takes cover amidst an incoming shipment of primates, and is processed into the system for training and to be sold.

Caesar is auctioned off to Governor Breck (Don Murray), which puts him in the midst of the ruling core. In the midst of an interrogation, Armando kills himself to protect Caesar and Caesar - his link with the good side of humanity now gone - begins to surreptitiously teach rebellion tactics to the enslaved apes, and they start gathering weapons.

Eventually, Caesar is discovered, and slated for execution, which is foiled by Breck's sympathetic aide, MacDonald (Hari Rhodes). Escaping, Caesar leads the apes in a revolt against their masters, which leads into a full blown riot.

The apes succeed in capturing the Governor and the command center, and with Caesar now in place, the circle is now complete, with the genesis of what will become the Planet of The Apes.
CONQUEST, the fourth in the "Apes" series, had been considered one of the series low points, mainly due to the reduced budget in comparison to the previous films and the level of violence involved; it started being critically reappraised starting in the 90's. Of all of the Apes sequels written by Paul Dehn, it's by far the most overtly political - Dehn and director J. Lee Thompson drew directly on the recent riots in the late 60's, and it's pretty strong stuff, even now some 40 years later. And looking at some of the screen grabs from the film should bring to mind recent images from Ferguson and NYC. 

In fact, if watching CONQUEST, you should pick it up on Blu-Ray, since that release is of the original version of the film - what was screened to preview audiences before their reaction caused the studio to tone down the film, which famously ends with a speech by Caesar diffusing the powder keg situation. Since there was no money to spend, the studio made cuts and brought McDowell back in for revoicings in the version released in the U.S. Overseas, the film went out in its original form.
Even in its 'compromised' form, the film packs a punch, but seeing the uncut version is a revelation - it should have half the audience raising their fists in alliance and the other half of the audience shitting their pants.

Final Verdict - GUILTY AS F&%K!!