Black Exploitation, Blaxploitation I guess, as it
has for some time been adopted as a real word, wasn't a new thing
in 1975. I should note that the term "blaxploitation"
was coined because of the continuation of the low-budget "exploitation"
film making of the 60s. It wasn't about the big studios using
black actors and actresses, it was about fantastic alternatives
to those less than daring movies. Black Exploitation films satisfied
the demand oozing from inner city audiences for movies made by
and for blacks. Most blacks in the period didn't really buy any
of that Sidney Poiter bullshit that Hollywood was pumping out.
Melvin Van Peebles flipped the world a bird when he produced SWEET
SWEETBACK'S BADAASS SONG, a film that so alienated white audiences,
the film rarely showed outside of major metropolitan cities and
aside from the few established white critics who were praising
it, few crackers had the balls the brave the long lines of darker
hued patrons crowding the streets waiting to get in. And so it
all began, black man could enjoy watching other blacks in less
than mainstream movies, exploitation films were no longer just
for us honkys, they (African-Americans) got their own shitty movies,
with crazy funk soundtracks, the wackiest day-glo clothing and
actual dialogue that sometimes barely resembled the King's English.
There are great films on all levels that fit the mold. From the
Oscar winning SHAFT to the fantastic horror of SUGAR HILL and
ABBY to the straight up
exploitation of BLACK SHAMPOO, black films just like their pasty
brethren, were going all over the map, no film proves this any
more than DARKTOWN STRUTTERS.
DARKTOWN STRUTTERS is one of those "what in
the Hell were they thinking" moments you rarely see so effectively
transferred to the big screen. You jaded fucks out there who think
you've seen all the true, great films in the Blaxploitation genre
and have not taken this brain-bending wonder work in are just
lying to yourselves. DARKTOWN STRUTTERS is in a league all its
A mishmash of Hanna-Barbara-like costumes, colors, choreography
and characters, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS is a comedy that utilizes the
taboo subject of racial prejudice as a wacky backdrop. You heard
me right, the film finds a way to make racism funny, and not just
to us whiteys! In DARKTOWN STRUTTERS stereotypes are not only
brought to life as characters, they are overtly exaggerated and
spit back at us in a way that is so fucking smart, you might just
miss the message. Great fucking satire is built on those pretenses.
Taking something potentially volatile, refusing to dumb it down
or in some cases dumbing it down to retarded level and delivering
the goods in a risky but nonetheless funny manner is something
DARKTOWN STRUTTERS does very well.
The plot is not one of conventional filmmaking. Syreena is looking
for Cinderella (Syrenna's mother) who has come up missing. Syreena
is the leader of an all girl motorcycle gang, the film's title
is the name of the gang. Darktown Strutters is a reference to
the Benny Goodmen Classic "Darktown Strutters Ball"
as well as the minstrel troupe of the same name. These Darktown
Strutters all dress in semi-matching biking gear consisting of
skintight, polyester suits in various unmentionable shades of
the rainbow, helmets customized with wings, sequins, fake fur,
feathers and foil and of course the rage at the time "stacks."
Fucking stacks, if you only knew how I begged my Mamaw for a par
of multicolored, thick fucking soled, slip-on STACKS! I finally
got a pair, hand-me-downs, about the time the craze was over.
(Sigh, you can bet I wasn't gonna miss that Jazz Oxford phase
when I got the chance, fuck you Stacks, these are Punk
these as gay as I think they are?) Anyway. You get my point these
gals are decked out like an explosion happened at The Sylvers
house! And the bikes, oh the bikes, those big-assed trikes with
VW engines, CragerTM wheels and fiberglass, George Barris wet-dream
body moldings. These ladies are the penultimate, flashy group
of biker babes. But my description is nothing, you have to see
them. From the opening sequence where a few marines try and play
a little grab ass, we see film manipulated by jump-cuts and fast-motion
effects that lends itself more to the classic silent-era comedy
than the expected SHAFT type posturing. It makes sense that William
Whitney, who is best known for his work in the 40s on great serials
like RED RYDER and THE CRIMSON GHOST was brought in to add a unique
visual style reminiscent of the "good old days." He
mixes the palette of Peter Max and the slapstick of days gone
buy beautifully. I mean the fucker manages to get a fart joke
in and a couple keystone cops, neither for any particular reason.
DARKTOWN STRUTTERS strangely was Whitney's last directing credit.
With a career that had begun in the mid 1930s, maybe he was just
As Syreena begins her quest to find Cinderella, a cast of wacky
characters fill screen from all corners. You've got the rival/come-love
interest male gang, their leader, Mellow (TV's MAGNUM, P.I. chopper
pilot Roger Mosely) cruises around on a Vespa. You've got the
cops who are part of the Ghetto Alert Squad, who for some reason
have a flashing red light on their cruiser the size of the top
of the crusier. Hugo, one of the cops is easily the most recognizable,
the cult icon himself Dick Miller, who has graced the shit stained
screens of great productions like IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, THE
STUDENT NURSES, ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and multitudes more.
Hugo's squad has a giant Terminator-type character, a fat ass
who can never get through a door and a loose cannon. When a fellow
office dons black face, a wig and a tight dress to lure a rapist
who is preying on "nigger faggots." The whole squad
fires on him in the police station, killing him, because he looked
like a "nigger faggot." Wow. They also have a big crime-computer-map
thing that alerts them to anything going on in the neighborhood,
when it sounds a blinking red sign flashes "Nigger Alarm."
There is zany fucking plot point after zany fucking plot point.
The rib, no pun intended, on chicken king Colonel Sanders involves
buckets of ribs served up by the very popular Louisville Cross,
with every bucket you get a free slice of watermelon! Cross's
patented "Nigger Making Machine" (" a colored cloning
device" named Annie) is also an important element in the
film (why wouldn't be?) Cross is a closeted racist who makes big
inspirational speeches to the blacks who buy his grub and then
goes home and has house servants that look like Aunt Jemima and
Uncle Ben, she even makes giant pancakes! He also has his own
Minstrel show complete with black-faced Rastuses and Remuses.
His lackys all dress in pink pig costumes and he also finances
the KluKluxKlan in some way. Yeah, the Klan is here, on motorcycles,
with goggles over their hoods, the Grand Wizard in a red hood
and cape with red underwear and thigh-high leggings. Their bikes
even have giant cross sissy-bars on the back. It never ends, I'm
telling you, every frame has something visually that boots you
in the balls. And it is all tied together with tons of funk and
R&B from the cast as well as The Dramatics who perform their
big hit "I can't get over you," from a jail cell in
a dungeon, in full matching outfits and a tinsel backdrop.
But with all the crazy visuals and a plot that at best, is virtually
impossible to comprehend or follow, what makes DARKTOWN STRUTTERS
so great is the Blitzkrieg dialogue. With lines like "it's
like rape, you got to ask for it!" Political correctness
was absent the day they made DARKTOWN STRUTTERS and that is what
makes it so unique. Pimps, hos, dope smoking Black Good Humor
men selling Pot Sickles, stupid cops and a rib-wrangling racist
trying to make his own "niggers" with a big machine
to keep his restaurants full of rib-eating "darkies."
Don't expect Hollywood to remake this one or any film even remotely
like it ever again.
The script was penned by future good director, George Armitage
who drafted the screenplay and directed the film based on Charles
Willeford's sleazy white trash novel MIAMI BLUE as well as directed
the well received GROSS POINTE BLANK. The film also includes quite
a few familiar faces. Syreena is played by the gorgeous Trina
Parks (the black Bond baddie in DIAMOND ARE FOREVER) Parks is
a trained dancer and has the body to prove it. And she can act,
there's rarely a scene she isn't dominating. TV's Mother Jefferson,
Zara Culley gets a small role as does Uncle Woody from Sanford
and Son, Raymond Allen.
DARKTOWN STRUTTERS is confusing, contrived, corny and absolutely...classic.
A time capsule of the psychedelic 70s, black awareness and true
funk tuneage, it is required genre viewing. More outlandish than
the DOLEMITE series and twice as smart, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS is
its own thing. There are so many noggin-scratching moments, flying
racial slurs, illogical plot dynamics and stereotypical characters
you'll want to watch this damned thing with your thumb on the
rewind button. That's about the greatest compliment a film can
hope to get. Watch this, with a black neighbor, you'll find you
have more in common than just being broke and enjoying a fish
(Official Disclaimer: The words
"nigger," "darkie," "colored," "honky,"
"cracker," and "faggot," were used in the
film DARKTOWN STRUTTERS, no one was actually harmed by hearing
or reading them even though they have been deemed racist and hate-filled
except when used in Hip-Hop. We try hard to be Equal Opportunity
Offenders, if you're not offended yet, we'll keep trying.)
everyone, I love her.
|Sky Hog Ribs, a
free slice of watermelon with every bucket!
|The Sky High Hog,
I'd eat there.
Gestapo Black Exploitation?
From Tobacco Row It's Good!
Squad Join Today!
Meateater Do Not Touch!
Stranger Run Run Opie!
House On Hwy 5 Sheesh!
Locked Doors It's Dirty!
Massacre Some Like It.
Pussy It had to be done
Alley It is Rock.
Woman Truck. Woman.
Freak A Classic for You!
Geek Bigfoot Porn
School Ghosthustlers Wow!
Island You Must See!
Not that kinda Cock!
Alienator Feeling Alienated?
Island Vanity and the Beast
Spree Tim Ritter's $0 budget wonder
Prof. Tread still can't sleep.
Tramp She is sumpin' else.
Footmen Tire You...? Heavy religiosity!
Knievel Evel of Course!
Killing Of A Chinese Bookie! Smart Guy.
Pink Angels Gayness, and Bikes
Burning The 80's, ahhh the 80's.
- The Winged Serpant! Larry Cohen rules!
For Your Life! WARNING Racist content
Tall Buford Pusser in the Hizouse!
Camp Internet Geeks Unite!
Losers Ya Loser!
of the Mutilated Bro. George gets busy.
Me An Angel Gal Biker and more.
Grim Reaper Reap on.
One of William Girdler's triumphs.
At Dawn A Modern Classic.
Boy Carradine, Dress, Dourif!
Hollywood Rape-Slaughter Rare expose'.
Savage Weekend. Take
Dead and Buried.
A Should-be Classic.
Summer In Barefoot County. PeeUww!
Night Train To
Terror Choo Choo!
Drink Your Blood Glug, glug!
Russ Meyer and breasts!
Stop Women Honnnk HonnnnK!
Deadly Darling! Pigs!
the Germ Fighter! Clean up!
Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast? Why?!
County Express! Glug, Glug!
The Night God Screamed!
White Dog Racists
City Slickers get offed!
Times Five Sean MacGregor's Titantic!
at the Red Wolf Inn Burp!
Eyes See It
Greatest Sinner One of the best!
Baby! Goo Goo!
Camp Nightmare Viva the Revolution!
of the Beast Creatures Booga!
Play Dead Incest craziness!
of Death Vacation madness!
Come, Evil Go! Bye, Bye Sinners!
Strutters Get Black Sucker!
Pretty Eddie Deep South Craziness!
Golem Jewish Folklore or what?
NYC Apartment Blues
To Kill A Clown
Alan Alda Vietnam Vet!
Spook Who Sat Next To The Door Booya!
Woke Up Early The Day I Died Mr. Ed Wood.
Mutilation Man Andy Copp goes arty on us!
People Across The Lake Good TV!
Woman Hunt Load Up Gents.
Devil At You Heels Daring Devil.
Are The Damned Dammit!
Farm TV movie Classic!