Exploitation films

Lurid horror, women-in-prison movies, blaxploitation, etc.




Dolemite is my name and f*ckin’ up other mutha f*ckers is my game! Who could not love a rhyming couplet like that?

Doing serious pen time for trafficking in illegal furs (really) as well as half a mil in blow, Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) is offered a way out by the warden: in exchange for his release, he has to take out drug kingpin Willie Green, responsible for bringing the “4th Ward” of whatever fictional city this is, to its knees, in cahoots with a corrupt white mayor…The only people in on this plan, the warden, whorehouse madame Queen B and an unnamed FBI agent.

Once the deal is done, and following unnecessary flashbacks and some shaky exposition, Dolemite doffs his peels for a dapper jumpsuit, not even waiting to get home to change: he strips down to his tighty whities right outside the prison gates, brought to him by limo by his bitches (This, as the less than impressed guards call out: “you’ll be back, Dolemite!”).

Meanwhile, the newly freed warrior is harassed by two cops on the take while he goes about his business.

He gets the lay of the land from Creeper, aka, The Hamburger Pimp, a shuffling base head who’s promptly assassinated. We learn that Willie Green has taken over Dolemite’s Dolemite-themed nightclub and big D has to get rid of WG, an original OG. Along with this colorful cast of characters — a reverend who runs guns, a karate-kicking all-female militia force, dancer Chi (short for Chicago) — the omnipresent boom mic is a character unto itself, , at the top and the bottom of many a frame (hey, this is an extremely low budget affair).

DOLEMITE_filmAt the center of the mess, Dolemite, who carries BB King’s girth and drops Grandmaster Flashes’ rhymes, an urban poet who delights assembled street toughs and captive audiences alike with parables about monkeys and lions as well as what might’ve gone down on the Titanic had the racial politics been different.

But there’s business to attend to, including avenging his nephew Lil Jimmy’s murder. He lays waste to much of the 4th Ward’s criminal element with half-baked karate chops and elephantine spinning back kicks.

The semi-comatose Dolemite, is still good for the odd line like “You no good rap soup eatin’ honkey mutha f*cka!”

Where can you dine on this specialty? Nobody knows for sure but Rudy Ray Moore has a gift of gab, and a grab bag of put downs that could skewer a dozen Yo Mama wannabes. See, we have skills too.

As an introduction to blaxploitation, Rudy Ray Moore is no Ron O’Neal, can’t hold a lighter to Fred Williamson and sure as hell ain’t Richard Roundtree (though he’s plenty round).

As inept as it is hilarious and beguiling, Dolemite is kinda must-see material — basically an excuse for Moore to showcase his less-than-stellar stand-up, his band and the Dolemite Dancers.

***1/2 (out of 5)

Green Room

green_room_film_posterJeremy Saulnier wanted to make an exploitation movie with ready-made villains. And who better to fill this role (other than Russians, usually, or Arab terrorists) than Nazis?

Green Room (2015) is his third full-length feature, his first being the charmingly gory cloistered art scene send-up, Murder Party. Say this about the man: Brooklyn art studios and Oregon punk bars are as far removed as you can get from your standard horror set-up.

Hardcore band The Ain’t Rights is spinning its wheels on the road, a common enough fact of life for many touring acts. And they cut corners any way they can, sleeping in their van and siphoning gas.

When their tour sputters to Spinal Tap proportions, which include a truly terrible gig inside a half-capacity burrito joint, a fan-zine journalist/booker tries to remedy the misstep with a face-saving kick at the can: a very lucrative gig, albeit at a skinhead bar in the remote Pacific Northwest.

It’s deep in the dark woods, a feature of many horrors as these represent the border between order and chaos. But the bar’s pretty chaotic as well.

The Ain’t Rights’ singer baits the rough-neck crowd with a tear-through of Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks F*ck Off. Certainly not a number to help their case, and sure enough, there are enough members of the crowd on hand with unsympathetic sensibilities when it comes to that song.

greenroom_moviePost-gig, bassist Pat (the late Anton Yelchin) forgets his cell in the backstage green room, where, in true genre film fashion, he spots….a body!  It’s a young girl, who’s been stabbed in the side of the head.

What to do with a body is the plot that’s launched 1,000 films, but the way the material is handled here — to Saulnier’s credit — Green Room doesn’t even NEED a body!

The background/place setting is so authentic, the characters so compelling, that a spin-off film could’ve easily been made about the exploits of earlier Ain’t Rights’ tours, maybe an updated version of Bruce MacDonald’s Hard Core Logo.

Regardless, as witnesses to the crime, the band members find themselves in a terrible predicament, made worse upon the arrival of bar owner Darcy (a terrific, sonorous turn by none other than Patrick Stewart, squaring the Star Trek circle with Yelchin, who was Chekov in the movie reboot).

Terrific tense action and cramped atmosphere that doubles as a loving tribute to punk rock. Ironically, it’s also quiet, especially when it needs to be, a rarity in horror.

Punk’s not dead! But things aren’t looking right for Ain’t Right.

***3/4 (out of 5)