Tag Archives: blaxploitation

GANG OF ROSES (2003): SPAGHETTI WESTERN FANS TAKE NOTE

Gang of Roses 2003GANG OF ROSES (2003) – The annual Frontierado Holiday, coming August 2nd this year, is about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality. So is the movie Gang of Roses, which is why I cannot believe the merciless reviews this fun, harmless, escapist movie has gotten. I find it far better than the similar Bad Girls

I eat, sleep and breathe Bad Movies, and this was a case where I settled in happily expecting to see an all-time disaster based on the reviews that Gang of Roses gets and its 2.3 rating at IMDb. Instead I saw a movie that I think deserves AT WORST a 5 or 6 rating. Maybe a 7 if you’re into Spaghetti Westerns.

Years ago I gave a glowing review to Posse (1993) starring Mario Van Peebles and, significantly Gang of Roses features a cameo by Van Peebles – dressed as Jesse Lee from Posse – giving an assist to the all-female title gang. He then says “Good luck, ladies” and rides off. (For obvious legal and financial reasons he’s listed in the credits simply as “Cameo” instead of Jesse Lee.)

I mention this because many Western fans told me they would have liked Posse if not for the underlying political message. Well, in Gang of Roses you get all the fun action of Posse with NO politics at all.

Gang of Roses groupLet me give a quick synopsis, then take a look at the main characters, following which I will state my counter-arguments to the most frequent criticisms leveled at this female-led Western:

The gunslinging gang of the title is made up of four black women and one Asian woman. We’re told that after robbing a few dozen banks the gang split up and its members went their separate ways. When the sister of the Roses’ leader gets murdered during an outlaw gang’s crime spree that leader gets the band together again to seek vengeance and a hidden fortune in gold and jewels.

The main characters:  Continue reading

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FRIDAY FOSTER: GOOD FRIDAY? SHE’S THE BEST FRIDAY

FOR BALLADEER’S BLOG’S REVIEWS OF THE OTHER TOP MOVIES OF PAM GRIER CLICK HERE  

Friday_FosterFRIDAY FOSTER (1975) – Pam portrays the title character, a comic strip heroine from the 1970’s who was often called “the black Brenda Starr.” Friday Foster worked as a photographer for a national weekly and the comic strip figure was regularly involved in much grittier adventures than Brenda Starr (or Mark Trail for that matter) ever had.

In this movie Friday uncovers a plot by White Supremacists to assassinate every prominent African American in the United States. Friday’s investigation into these dastardly goings-on leads her along a lengthy trail of victims, some of them played by very big-name stars. For instance:   Continue reading

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THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR (1973): MOVIE REVIEW

Mascot new lookSupposedly they are remaking this 1970s Blaxploitation movie, at least according to Balladeer’s Blog readers who requested I review it. As it turns out I did review it in 2012, so here it is again.

For the link to that review – an article where I reviewed several other Blaxploitation films as well, click HERE  

402px-spook_who_sat_by_the_door_1973THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR (1973) – The title of this explosive film, based on the controversial novel by Sam Greenlee, plays on the old double meanings of the slang expression “spook”. While spook could be used as a derogatory term for a black person it could also refer to a secret agent.

The story’s hero, played by Lawrence Cook, is an African American working in the domestic offices of the Central Intelligence Agency. While outwardly an efficient and capable paper pusher he inwardly regards himself as an undercover operative for his own race, infiltrating the white intelligence establishment.

After  five years of learning all he can via secretly reading CIA operations files our protagonist, significantly named Dan Freeman, decides to launch a covert operation of his own to destroy the white power structure and elevate his people to positions of authority. Continue reading

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SUPERFLY (1972)

superfly poster tallSUPERFLY (1972) – While unfairly pigeonholed as a blaxploitation movie Superfly is in reality a monumentally overlooked classic of American gangster films.

Some of the blame for the lack of respect accorded this cinematic masterpiece comes from the outrageous movie posters that make it look like standard blaxploitation fare to modern film viewers. In reality Superfly pioneered some of the story elements that other blaxploitation flicks would turn into laughable cliches with their incessant repetition. 

Another obstacle to celluloid respectability is the title, which became synonymous with the lead character, played masterfully by Ron O’Neal. Actually, O’Neal’s character is named Youngblood Priest. “Superfly” was the adjective used to describe the high quality of the cocaine Priest pushed to his customers, as in the line of dialogue “Priest, you sell some superfly shit!” Continue reading

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POSSE(1993): FILM REVIEW

 Frontierado is coming up on Friday, August 5th!

POSSE is a terrific western about a gang of African American  gunfighters (plus the goofiest  Baldwin brother) involved in an action-packed epic journey across the American west. The Frontierado holiday is the perfect time of year to hunker down with this film while drinking a Cactus Jack or a Deuces Wild or two. I’ll review the recipes for those mixed drinks in a few days, for now we’ll focus on this movie on our countdown.

Posse stars Mario Van Peebles, who also directed, as Jesse Lee, the brooding, revenge-driven hero of the saga. He and all but one member of his gang, our titular posse, are soldiers fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898. A dangerous assault they carry out turns out to be Continue reading

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POSSE (1993)

 Frontierado is coming up on Friday, August 7th!

POSSE is a terrific western about a gang of African American gunfighters (plus the goofiest Baldwin brother) involved in an action-packed epic journey across the American west. The Frontierado holiday (which will be here Friday August 7th) is the perfect time of year to hunker down with this film while drinking a Cactus Jack or a Deuces Wild or two. I’ll review the recipes for those mixed drinks in a few days, for now we’ll focus on this movie on our countdown.

Posse stars Mario Van Peebles, who also directed, as Jesse Lee, the brooding, revenge-driven hero of the saga. He and all but one member of his gang, our titular posse, are soldiers fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898. A dangerous assault they carry out turns out to be Continue reading

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BLAXPLOITATION IN BLACK AND WHITE

brotherhood of deathBlaxploitation is as misunderstood and unfairly dismissed a sub-genre as Spaghetti Westerns are. It’s not all pimps, pushers and prostitutes. There were also street-level heroes as colorful as any in the old Pulps. In addition some of the most watchable blaxploitation flicks featured cathartic scenes of African-Americans blowing away Democrats of the Ku Klux Klan and genocidal neo-Nazis plus – decades before Django Unchained – a few Westerns showed former slaves turned gunslingers shooting down actual slave-owners and slave-traders.

Balladeer’s Blog has examined several categories:

BLAXPLOITATION FILMS THAT DESERVE A CLOSER LOOK

darktown-strutters-movie-poster-1975-1020465143Comment: From Pulpish action epics to political satire to black biker films to tastelessly explicit looks at the hardcore ugliness of the Atlantic slave trade, these films boldly went where no mainstream movies of the time period dared to go.  

Examples: Superfly, a neglected gangster classic … The Spook Who Sat by the Door, about a successful armed black uprising … The Brotherhood of Death, featuring black Vietnam vets fighting the Klan … Mister Deathman, with a black James Bond in Apartheid-era South Africa.    

Top Film On List: Darktown Strutters, an in-your-face satire on race, politics and consumerism presented in a style that seems equal parts Richard Pryor and South Park.  

FOR FULL LIST: https://glitternight.com/2012/03/10/eight-blaxploitation-films-that-deserve-a-closer-look/

BLAXPLOITATION HORROR FILMS Continue reading

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