Movie Reviews - Black Christmas, Black Cobra, Black Demons, Black Gestapo, Black Godfather

Black Christmas (C, 1975) AKA Silent Night Evil Night, Stranger In The House
Bob Clark (who also brought you the excellent Deathdream and the plague-like Porky's) laid the groundwork for the slasher-movie phenomenon with this genuinely creepy horror film about a psycho hiding in a sorority house and terrorizing the girls. He kills a few (there's very little blood; this movie doesn't need it) and acts very, very insane, making a series of truly disturbing and demented obscene phone calls using multiple voices and talking about a baby and somebody named Billy and making awful noises. You can easily see the influence of this on Halloween and especially When A Stranger Calls. The ending confuses everybody, but I like it even though I don't particularly understand it; it adds to the nightmarishness of it all. One of the cornerstones of a horror film education. -zwolf

Black Cobra (C, 1987) AKA Cobra Nero
Some Eurotrash bikers (short-haired, Kawasaki-riding posers who wear studded black leather jackets to the beach) go around robbing and killing for no apparent reason. One of them has pictures taken of him while trying to attack a girl (she wards him off with the camera's flash, even though he's wearing sunglasses... at night). Tough guy makes-his-own-rules cop Fred Williamson is assigned to protect the girl, because even though the pictures didn't turn out, the thugs don't know that. Usually Fred has more trouble dealing with his finicky cat Purvis than he does the bad guys, who give him time to somersault on the ground before every shot he fires. Guys also empty their guns shooting through doors. In other words, it's a stupid-ass by-the-numbers Italian action flick with all the things that entails, including a cheap synthesizer score and - yes - sequels! Definitely nothing special, but Fred Williamson does have a screen presence, and though you won't be thrilled, you won't be particularly bored, either. They oughtta be sued for copyright, though, because Fred pulls a direct not-even-trying-to-hide-it steal of the Dirty Harry "Do you feel lucky...?" speech. (Lead-plated bullets?!?) -zwolf

Black Demons (C, 1991)
Fraudulently passed off as a sequel to the Demons series, this is actually a late entry into the Italian zombie gore-flick genre, directed by Umberto Lenzi. Some students in Brazil are studying the music of voodoo rites, and one records a Macumba ritual. Visiting an old plantation, he foolishly plays it in a cemetery, and graves burst into flame, tombstones bleed, and the rotting corpses of former slaves burst up from the ground and start seeking prey, using axes, scythes, and bailing hooks, gouging out eyes and chopping in heads and pitchforking bellies. This is all great, but the only problem is, between the episodes of graphic mayhem you have to suffer the atrocious combination of some of the worst actors ever struggling to deliver some of the clumsiest dialogue ever penned. And it's not even dubbed this time. Still, fans of zombie epics are used to bad acting, and even though there are only six zombies, the makeup on them is great - it's always important to have creepy-looking zombies. And the gore effects are good. So, you may not mind overlooking the awkward scripting or such things as the zombies being able to sneak up behind people even though they're wearing clanking leg chains and would be reeking to high heaven... -zwolf

Black Gestapo (C, 1975) AKA Ghetto Warriors
A somewhat-militant black organization, the People's Army, is formed to take care of problems in their own community. It does good things at first, detoxing drunks, keeping pushers out, and trying to protect people from racist white gangster scumbags. But under the guidance of Col. Kojah (Charles Robinson) it turns into a violent vigilante organization, castrating white rapists (and flushing their balls down the toilet!) and cracking down on the mob... which soon results in a black vs. white mob war. But soon the People's Army is corrupt, not trying to get the crime out of the community but instead controlling it themselves, and because they've been trained as a military force they're even harder to deal with. One of their generals (Rod Perry, from Black Godfather) who's still dedicated to the original, positive concept has to stop this new incarnation on his own... with help from automatic weapons and explosives. Excessively-violent Blaxploitation from the Nazi-obsessed (and, ironically, Jewish) director of Love Camp Seven, Lee Frost. It's good, the action scenes are strong, but it ain't pleasant. -zwolf

Black Godfather (C, 1974) AKA Street War
J. J. (Rod Perry) and his friend get shot up trying to rob a house, and only J. J. makes it out alive, and only because he's saved by Big Nate Williams, a numbers boss who has plans for him. J. J. learns fast (while the credits are going, apparently) and becomes a big-time operator, wanting to get bigger. He aligns with a black activist who doesn't approve of him but agrees to help him since he says he'll run the drug pushers out of the community, even if he has to go to war with a white crime boss. This, o' course, leads to conflict, much of it violent and exotic, involving spears, blowguns, kung-fu catfights, and meat cleavers. Midline blaxploitation, but that's not bad since most of the genre's films weren't bad at all. Rod Perry was back the next year in the even more violent Black Gestapo. -zwolf

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