Sunday, March 01, 2015


This session - DRUM, the sequel to MANDINGO... as the ad copy stated, "MANDINGO lit the fuse... DRUM is the Explosion!"
 MANDINGO was a hit for Paramount, if not for the critics at the time, so the next book in the Falconhurst series was chosen as the followup, with some of the same elements in play - Norman Wexler, who did the screenplay for MANDINGO also adapted DRUM; Ken Norton was again tapped for the title role - however, Richard Fleischer didn't come back for the sequel.
 However, this time around, due to the reception of MANDINGO, some were a bit gun shy. Burt Kennedy, who was the original director, was fired and replaced with Steve Carver (LONE WOLF MCQUADE, BIG BAD MAMA), and Wexler's script was rewritten - a prologue sequence that was to be the first third of the film essentially ended up being a five-minute montage at the start of the film - Paramount dumped the film, which was picked up by United Artists for release and producer Dino DeLaurentiis took his name off of the film to avoid the shitstorm that followed MANDINGO and probably this film.
 Sure enough, DRUM did make money, but the critics hated it as much as they did MANDINGO.
Of course, here at Guilty Of Being... WHITE, we're more concerned with emotional truth - and MANDINGO having 'the stink of truth' wrapped in trashy pulp, DRUM also can be seen as having that stink of truth, but wrapped up in even trashier package.
 The film proper starts 15 years after the events in MANDINGO - Ken Norton, again, plays the title character, who's raised to fight as entertainment for other slave owners. At one of these fights with Hammond Maxwell (played by Perry King in MANDINGO and now by Warren Oates) attending, Drum fights another slave, Blaise (Yaphet Kotto), whom he later befriends.
 One of these owners, Bernard DeMaringy (camped up by John Colicos, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), has a fixation on Drum, who rejects his advances, causing DeMaringy to swear revenge.
 Drum and Blaise are both eventually sold to Hammond, who has a daughter, Sophie (Rainbeaux "Cheryl" Smith) whose interest in the help pretty much sticks to the basics...
  Meanwhile, Hammond hasn't gotten past his habit of sleeping with the black help, like Drum's girlfriend Regine (Pamela "Pam" Grier), which his white fiance, Augusta (Fiona Lewis) doesn't appreciate.
Trying to stay out of Sophie's clutches and not end up dead proves to be pretty hard for both Drum and Blaise, who though a misunderstanding end up being punished by Hammond by being hung upside down naked and paddled (a punishment also administered in MANDINGO). And via a lie, Blaise is threatened with castration.
 Everything comes to a head during an evening when Hammond hosts a dinner party, DeMaringy also attending on the same night a bounty hunter with runaway slaves in his charge asks for shelter. Quicker than you can say 'Nat Turner', the prisoners lead a revolution, and things end in blood, gunplay, rape and fire.
As trashy as MANDINGO is, it is pretty unflinching portraying the evil of the ordinariness of slavery even when the soapiness gets deep. DRUM wallows in the trashiness of the storyline, even upping the ante in terms of its predecessor.

VERDICT: GUILTY. You'll really start hating white people a quarter into this.

DRUM was recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD, with a commentary by director Carver.