April 21st, 2009

ABAR: THE BLACK SUPERMAN (1977) ** ½

A wealthy black doctor and his family move in to an all white community and face racism from their neighbors who picket their house, throw trash on their lawn and eviscerate the family cat.  The good doctor refuses to relocate and continues to work in his basement laboratory to perfect his new serum that makes rabbits indestructible!  A badass black militant with no eyebrows named Abar (Tobar Mayo) offers to act as a bodyguard to the family and beats up a lot of white thugs who loiter around the house.  When the hateful honkies kill the doctor’s young son, he uses the serum on Abar, and in addition to making him indestructible, it also gives him ESP powers.  Abar first uses his power to make a difference in the ghetto.  He causes racist white cops to fight each other, turns winos’ booze into milk, and gives hookers Kung Fu powers to beat up their abusive pimps.  In the end, he returns to the doctor’s house to get revenge on the white neighbors by infesting their houses with snakes, rats, and worms; forcing them to learn an invaluable lesson:  Racism is BAD.

 

Abar:  The Black Superman is kinda like Petey Wheatstraw:  The Devil’s Son in Law and Soul Vengeance in that it’s one of the most bizarre blaxploitation movies I’ve ever seen.  It’s not nearly as mind-bogglingly bat shit insane as those flicks, but they are definitely kindred spirits.  (The scene where Abar walks around the ghetto using his powers for good is almost exactly like the one in Petey Wheatstraw.)

 

What sets Abar apart from most of the blaxploitation flicks is its positive message of non-violence.  There are also a lot more messages hidden not so subtly (like wealthy blacks should give back to the ghetto) in there too.  The problem is that there is way too much heavy handed preaching during the first part of the movie and not enough of Abar using his psychic powers for revenge.  I mean he doesn’t even drink the serum until 70 minutes into the film!  Luckily, the last half hour of the flick features enough cheesy goodness to make it worth a look.

 

AKA:  Abar:  The First Black Superman.  AKA:  In Your Face.

SLAUGHTER (1972) ***

Jim Brown stars in one of the best of the Shaft imitators of the 70’s.  He plays Slaughter, an ex-Green Beret soldier out to avenge the death of his father.  Slaughter goes around shooting people in the forehead for about a half an hour until the Feds offer him a job to take out the main Mafioso responsible for capping his daddy.  Slaughter agrees and for the next hour or so busts a lot of heads and shoots a lot of white people.

 

Slaughter is a real treat to watch, mostly because of the great cast supporting cast.  Rip Torn chews up the scenery nicely as the sleazy gangster, Don Gordon is funny as Slaughter’s partner, and Cameron Mitchell is a blast in the smallish role as Slaughter’s bigoted boss.  Stella Stevens also looks damn fine as the love interest and has three major nude scenes (two sex scenes with Brown and a shower scene) too.  

 

Jim Brown is the reason to watch it though.  He kicks a lot of ass and blows away a bunch of white dudes, so any blaxploitation fan worth his salt needs to check this flick out ASAP.  You also get a great title sequence and cool theme song by Billy Preston too.

 

The only downside is that director Jack (Cleopatra Jones) Starrett uses some weird lens on the camera every time Slaughter does something cool.  Whenever this happens, everything gets stretched out and wall-eyed and it’s hard to tell just what the Hell is going on.  For example:  Slaughter will break down a door and beat somebody up.  Unfortunately, since we’re watching it through what looks to be a funhouse mirror, it makes what could’ve been a tight action scene seem incomprehensible.  Half star deduction for that.  But don’t let that stop you from checking Slaughter out.  It’s filled with wall-to-wall action and the Stretch-O-Vision nonsense is only a minor annoyance in an otherwise stellar blaxploitation action flick.

 

Co-screenwriter Mark Hanna, who also wrote such 50’s classics as Not of This Earth, The Amazing Colossal Man, and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman; was responsible for Slaughter’s tough guy dialogue like, “Get your narrow ass out of here!”