THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR should never be referred
to as blaxploitation; the film is actually true black cinema.
Based on the controversial and best selling novel of the same
name, written by Sam Greenlee. A somewhat outlandish and over
the top revolutionist story of one brother's rise from token CIA
copy room boy, to leader of a well trained ghetto guerilla army
set to bring white America to a grinding halt.
The one super soul brother is Dan Freeman, college graduate,
smart guy, and a man who takes advantage of a political ploy;
one to "integrate" the CIA, inacted mainly to capture
votes. Dan signs up, as do quite a few other African-American
men. The plan is fairly simple; keep the blacks from making it
into the CIA. The white CIA officers, stage the training as too
rough, the written exams slightly to difficult for almost everyone
who goes through the course. Everyone but Dan. When one of Dan's
black classmates calls Dan an Uncle Tom for playing the game too
well, not slacking so the curve they are grading on is less skewed,
Dan simply explains, he's no Tom, he's just not trying to have
it both ways, he also adds, "You don't want me to step outside,
cuz I'd kick your ass!" This Dan is disciplined at CIA camp,
but a man has his needs and when he is allowed to venture out,
he likes to sample the local skin trade, never mind the fact he
has a hot little honey back in Chicago awaiting his return. Dan,
he's a man, for goodness sakes.
Dan ultimately is the only African-American to be inducted into
the CIA; he is swiftly given the duty of Top Secret Reproduction
Chief. That's right he is over seeing that big Xerox down in the
basement, but Dan just wants to make good at his new job. When
one day he is selected to tour some Senators around the CIA, his
bosses decide it might be good PR to have a token black on the
staff, who can sit out front as proof of the CIA's new integration.
Well Dan, obliges, for 5 years, overhearing Top Secret meetings
and studying guerilla warfare tactics. Dan finally retires from
government work, deciding to "give something back" to
his community he tells his bosses. Dan returns to the ghettos
of his past. His girlfriend, already betrothed, has wed a doctor.
Dan meets his old college pal, Dawson, who's now a straight-laced
cop, a good guy, honest, fair and a brother. Dan wants to get
involved with the community, due to the current welfare state,
social workers are highly sought after and Dan takes a high paying
social work position (my how times have changed). It's not long
before we find out what Dan's real motives for coming home are
to recruit young men, before they wind up in jail or are killed
on the streets, into his elite force of freedom fighting soul
men. And recruit he does, he tells the young brothers how to survive
of the land, trains them in the ways of CIA secrets, and changes
them from ghetto petty criminals to ghetto-trained terrorists.
His goal is to make whitey choose between policing the whole world
or keeping blacks down, Dan's thinking, whitey can only do one
of those two things effectively and if they want to police the
world they need the support of the country's blacks. This is prime
Vietnam era stuff, remember Vietnam was a police action not a
war, that's what the government wanted folks to believe.
Dan is also covert, his troupes are a loyal legion, it's business
as usual as Dan continues his Social work, he continues his friendship
with his police officer colleague, never espousing his radical
views. Dan carries himself like the suave, disco godfathers of
the era, but rarely uses the word "nigga " 'cept when
describing how whites feel about blacks. Dan's views are not rooted
in hatred, which is something that Greenlee's book was adamant
about, his struggle is about Freedom, Freedom from oppression
and Equality, Equality for every one, not just the chosen few
is not the usual 'sploitation bullshit. This movie, although limited
in budget, had a higher calling, to preach some more noble notions
than just "Kill Whitey." One standout moment of dramatic,
all out, sentimentality is when Dan explains to one of the followers,
that getting his education is very important. Dan describes rushing
home as a child to read Dick and Jane with his Grandmother and
part of the way through the book he realized his grandmother couldn't
read, so from then one he rushed home every day to her even harder
and eventually she learned to read because of him. "An education
is something a white man cannot take away from you." He tells
the high-yellow follower. I mention this because the character,
the light skinned black man also recognizes the racism amongst
blacks, he has repeatedly been called less-black by blacks but
still called "nigger" and held back by white folks,
claiming "I'll probably die with a bullet in the back my
head because I'm black!"
When a riot takes place in the ghetto, things begin to escalate
causing the National Guard to be stationed within the streets,
of course the government doesn't have the good sense to send in
any brothers only whites and Dan's good friend at the police department
knows all hell is going to bust loose, especially after a 14 year
old black girl is gunned down.
The boys set their plan in motion and
well, I can't tell
you anything else because the film takes on another personality
here. One standout moment is when the head of the Guard is black
faced and given LSD on sent out on a 20-inch Buzz Bike. This moment
is visually out there, as is the actions of the guerrilla warriors.
THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR is not dry although it might sound
like the serious tone and message of the film would make it that
way. There are honest moments of humor, when the aging CIA head
refers to blacks being tremendous athletes and the hooker, while
being interrogated about sexual Dan's habits alludes to his prowess.
This film is black without a doubt, there are a few anti-white
references as well, honky and cracker and there are no decent
white characters in this film whatsoever, we are all portrayed
as bad. Ivan Dixon, who directed the film has a nice sense of
when to back away from being too preachy, Dixon you'll remember
as Kinchloe from Hogan's Heroes, that's right the one black guy.
SPOOK is the only theatrically release Dixon directed, instead
opting for a long career doing such notable TV shit pieces and
Starsky and Hutch, Wonder Woman, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and Get
Christie Love amongst many others. Dixon also had one legit blaxploitation
film under his belt, TROUBLE MAN, a film whose soundtrack is every
bit as good as Bob Hook's Mr. T. I'll let you figure out what
Larry Cook is Dan Freeman, Cook's looks are very conservative,
not like the typical pimp-tacular clothes of early 70s black schlock,
he occasionally relaxes in a nice Dashiki or a touch of plaid
but his rather benign, almost unnoticeable look plays to his character
perfectly. Cook was also in TROUBLEMAN and did a short stint on
my Mamaw's favorite soap opera, DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Cook's acting
is strong, emotionally he runs the gamut form nice, Stepandfetchit
token black to angry black male and he does both characterizations
Other mentionables are Don Blakely, is a very recognizable face
as Stud Davis. Don has been in small roles from SHAFT'S BIG SCORE
to PULP FICTION. J.A. Preston as Dawson, Dan's police officer
friend, J.A. was the judge in A FEW GOOD MEN. Dans's prostitute
Dahomey Queen, is handled by stalwart Blactress, Paula Kelly,
Kelly definitely had the best career of anyone involved with SPOOK
going on to TV and movies A varied as SOYLET GREEN, PETER PAN
and NIGHT COURT (she was Liz the attorney for the first season).
The phat, funktagious soundtrack is pplied liberally by none other
than Jazz/Funk Maestro Herbie Hancock. You know the "Rockit"
Because of the recent interest in the film, many assume this
is just another typical SHAFT or DOLEMITE movie, mainly because
of the term "Spook" in the title, which we all know
can be used as a slur, it's actually a slang term for a CIA agent,
spook or spy. Fuck that tongue in cheek black bad ass shit for
a moment and watch an actual black film, you'll get enough dated
references to niggas, pimps, hos and shit to satisfy you 'sploitatioon
fans. But you'll also get a little better understanding of the
plight of the inner city circa 1973. Did I mention a guy in black
face? You get that too. Fight the Power. Shiiiiiiiiitt.
|Dan in his post-killed
my best friend mood,
|Spooky snipers on
the streets of Chicago.
|Dawson is Dan's old
buddy from college, he's also a pig.
|Dan slams the man.
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!