“Pimping God’s consciousness like a fat ho!” – J.D. Walker
This last Tuesday night at the New Bev, the GRINDHOUSE FILM FESTIVAL screened a couple of blaxploitation horror flicks in honor of the season, J.D.’S REVENGE and BLACULA. During the raffle before the show, my girl Grae Drake won a DVD copy of the RUDY RAY MOORE classic, PETEY WHEATSTRAW: THE DEVIL’S SON IN LAW, which is a kind of pimp-horror film in it’s own right. She donated it to my extensive collection and I promised to show it to her along with DISCO GODFATHER some day in the near future. That started the night off with a bang and it only got better from there.
Two of the stars and the director of J.D.’S REVENGE, GLYNN TURMAN, CARL CRUDUP and ARTHUR MARKS were on hand to introduce the film that night. The audience was very excited to watch it, because most of us (including me) had not seen it yet, but we were all big fans of the J.D.’S REVENGE trailer that Brian played before a few of the GRINDHOUSE shows.
Before the first film, there was a trailer reel of vintage exploitation films that included:
DERANGED – a biography pic from the early 70s about real-life serial killer ED GEIN.
CANNIBAL GIRLS – I’ve never seen this one about a bunch of go go girls who enjoy eating human flesh.
BONNIE’S KIDS – TIFFANY (THE CANDY SNATCHERS) BOLLING plays one half of a murderous brother and sister crime team. An amazing looking NATURAL BORN KILLERS type of 70s film, with the awesome tagline: “Thank god she only had two!”
Then our feature presentation:
J.D.’S REVENGE tells the tragic tale of a violent street hustler named J.D. Walker, who is wrongly accused of murder and viciously gunned down one night in New Orleans, circa 1942.
Flash forward to the good old 70s, where we meet a passive young law student named Ike (GLYNN TURMAN). While out on a double date one evening, he volunteers for a hypnosis demonstration and unknowingly becomes possessed by the spirit of a vengeful J.D.
Before long, Ike is wearing old pimp suits from the forties, hot combing his hair and making love to his woman like a wild man. He can’t understand what’s happening to him and after beating up his girlfriend, he seeks help from his doctor friend Tony (CARL CRUDUP). Tony tells him to relax and informs him that beating up on his lady is just a natural way to let off steam (HUH?!). Well, he is a doctor so…
Also, while under J.D.’s influence, he takes an old white lady on a terrifying white knuckle cab ride, finally pulling her out of the car and beating the crap out of her. On another excursion, he picks up some lady, fucks her, cuts up her husband when he catches them and steals her Lincoln Continental for a fast getaway. That’s one bad dude!
When Ike/J.D. comes face to face with Reverend Elija Bliss (LOUIS GOSSETT JR.), who is the direct descendent of the man that killed him, he embarks on his bloody revenge quest.
J.D.’S REVENGE was actually a really well acted and directed film, that made the most of a low budget and a B movie script. GLYNN (THE WIRE) TURNER is really great as Ike, who shifts seamlessly between the two personalities. The movie has a cooky plot, but everything is played with such earnest, it really keeps you in it. I also loved that it had one of those happy endings where everything goes completely back to normal, regardless of all the crazy shit that’s happened.
There was a Q and A afterwards with GLYNN TURNER, CARL CRUDUP and ARTHUR MARKS, where they talked about how wonderful it was to shoot the film in New Orleans. They said that the city lent a lot to the movie’s mood and texture and that they ate the best food of their lives for the six months they shot there. ARTHUR MARKS said that the film cost $600,000 and made a lot of money for MGM. Everyone wanted to do a sequel, but it never materialized. GLYNN TURNER said that SNOOP DOGG is a huge fan of the film and told TURNER how much he loved it once, when they bumped into each other at Universal Citywalk. Perhaps BONES was inspired by J.D.’S REVENGE?
There was a short break and when we returned, WILLIAM CRAIN the director of BLACULA, came to the stage and introduced his film. He said he was only 19 years old when he made it and for some reason, A.I.P. head SAMUEL ARKOFF hated him and he never worked for him again. Strange, considering the film was very well made and a huge hit for the studio. WILLIAM CRAIN also told us he handpicked all the actors in BLACULA and at one time, both BERNIE CASEY and HARRY BELAFONTE were up for the lead role. Cool.
Before the film, there were a few more trailers:
A.I.P.’s MADHOUSE – starring VINCENT PRICE.
THE INCREDIBLE TWO HEADED TRANSPLANT – they’re showing it on the 27th with THE THING WITH TWO HEADS.
THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA – scary looking vampire movie from A.I.P.
BLACULA is about an African Prince named Mamuwalde (WILLIAM MARSHALL), who along with his beautiful wife Luva (VONETTA McGEE), are guests of the infamous Count Dracula at his castle in the 1700’s. Dracula bites Mamuwalde, turning him into a vampire and murders his beloved bride before his very eyes. Dracula then renames him BLACULA and buries him away for eternity.
Centuries later, two of the most flamboyantly portrayed interior decorators ever, buy BLACULA’S coffin and have it shipped back to L.A. Once he rises, he starts biting necks and pining for a young woman named Tina, who’s the reincarnation of his deceased wife.
I haven’t seen BLACULA in a long time and I’ve never seen it on the big screen, until now. I didn’t realize that it is actually a retelling of the DRACULA story in every way, with only a change in location (Los Angeles instead of London) and race (African American instead of Romanian). It’s another well made blaxploitation film, with really good acting and some very scary moments. The bloody finale, where BLACULA is pursued by the cops in an abandoned warehouse is fantastic! I agree with the character Big Skillet, who refers to BLACULA as, “One weird dude, but I do dig that cape!”
It was another great night at the GRINDHOUSE. See ya next time!