Thursday, February 12, 2009

Them Some Scary Negroes!

By Odienator (Click here for all posts)

Remember that story about the White woman who, when told to “hit the floor” by an intimidating Black man in a Las Vegas elevator, she threw herself on the floor? It turns out that the man only meant for her to hit the button for her floor. The next day, she receives roses with $100 bills wrapped around them, and a card that says “Thanks for the biggest laugh I’ve had in years.” The card is signed by Eddie Murphy.

I knew this story was bullshit the first time I heard it. First of all, this woman would have had to have been from the Upper East Side of Mars not to recognize Mr. Fuck You Man. Second, no disrespect to Eddie Murphy, but he’s too pretty to be terrifying. Wes Craven couldn’t make Eddie scary, unless Nick Ashford gives you nightmares. If it had been Yaphet Kotto in the story, I might have been fooled.

Third, how did the celebrity know who this woman was? How did he get the roses and money to her?

Front Desk: Mr. Murphy, good evening! How can I help you?

Ed-DEE: Hi, yes. There was a White woman in the elevator with me last night…

Front Desk: You must mean Lady Jessica Winthrop.

Ed-DEE: Lady…Jessica Winthrop? (Gives classic Eddie look) Ohhh-kay. Well, I scared the shit out of her, so now I’d like to send the bitch some roses.

Front Desk: You got it, sir.

Ed-DEE: Yeah, thanks. And (handing clerk $1200) wrap each of these $100 bills around them. Give her a note that says “You a funny bitch, Lady Jessica Winthrop.”

Front Desk: Right away, Mr. Murphy!

This story, apocryphal as it may be, isn’t completely far-fetched. I can count 5 different occurrences when a White woman clutched her purse as I walked by, and on three of those occasions, I was wearing hundreds of dollars worth of suits, ties and accessories. (I’m a big ol’ metrosexual, folks.) At first, I found this offensive, but then I thought: You know, Black people ARE scary! Just look at the movies I’ve compiled below.

Blacula (1972): Count Chocula precedes Blacula by one year, but despite that rumor about him being a tragic mulatto, Chocula was eventually unmasked as a wigger with a spray on tan. Blacula was the genuine article, an African prince named Mamuwalde who’s bitten by Dracula when the former sought his help stopping the slave trade. Drac seals Mamuwalde in a coffin and leaves Mrs. Mamuwalde mortal so she can die. (Apparently, Dracula is not only a racist, but on the down low too. He likes his coffee black, like his men!)

Speaking of the down low, two gay dudes buy Blacula’s coffin in the 70’s because, honey, it looks fierce! They meet a different kind of fierce when they open it. Blacula’s pissed, hungry, and looking for his wife. She’s long gone, but he finds a woman who looks exactly like her, presumably because she’s played by the same actress, Vonetta McGee. While in pursuit of her, Mamuwalde kills more people, arousing the suspicion of a police lieutenant involved with the sister of Mamuwalde’s object d’amour. Eventually, Mamuwalde persuades his beloved to fall in love with him, but she winds up undead at the teeth of Blacula, then actually dead at the stake of the lieutenant. Instead of having a Lookee Here moment, Blacula does something unprecedented for movie monsters. (SPOILER ALERT!) He gives up. You feel sorry for this Black man who can’t take it anymore, even if he was one creepy soul brother for most of the picture. As Blacula, William Marshall gives a good performance for this genre, and according to Wikipedia, Blacula won the first ever given Saturn Award, which honors sci-fi and horror.

Abby (1974): William Marshall’s here too, except he’s the good guy in this one. Seems a churchgoing woman has started doing and saying things that Jesus wouldn’t; she’s possessed by a sex demon! It’s up to Marshall’s man of God to save her from her horny new groove. Marshall kicks ass here, spouting serious voodoo shit during his exorcism. What neither he, nor American International Pictures, could exorcise was Warner Bros. lawsuit claiming this was a rip-off of a certain movie with Linda Blair. You decide: Linda’s possessed by Pazuzu (remember Richard Burton saying “Pazuzu” 18 million times in Exorcist II?) Abby is possessed by her punany. Linda curses out religious people at her house, Abby curses them out at church. Linda puts a crucifix where the sun don’t shine, Abby uses fried chicken. Abby bangs a guy so hard he dies when his ass catches on fire, Linda, uh, um…well you get the picture. Warners won their suit, and Abby exists only on bootleg videotapes like the one I have. It’s the perfect place for this scary church lady!

Tales From the Hood (1995): Rusty Cundieff’s anthology is hosted by Clarence Williams III, who reminds us that he was loud, Black and scary decades before Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson. Williams plays a mortician who tells four stories to gang bangers led by Poetic Justice’s Joe Torry. They think they’re at the funeral parlor to get drugs. “Give us the shit!” Torry repeatedly warns Williams as the tales spin. None of them are scary supernaturally; the normal things in Cundieff’s tales are far more intimidating. David Alan Grier shows up in the tale Cundieff stars in, and Grier reminds us that he was a fine dramatic actor well before In Living Color (he even worked with Robert Altman). Grier plays “the monster” in the story, who turns out to be an abusive stepdad who beats a young boy without mercy. He gets his, as do some racist cops who kill the wrong brother.

But the biggest get occurs at the film’s end. Williams, whose wild eyed performance is a must-see, tells the boys one more story about a thug who undergoes a Clockwork Orange-like aversion therapy treatment in order to stave off jail. The images presented to him, and us, are documentary-like horrors of the ‘hood. When the thug refuses to mend his ways, he winds up at Williams’ funeral home, the victim of the same thugs who have been patiently listening for the past 80 minutes. When Torry realizes this is a set up, he pulls a gun on Linc from the Mod Squad, but pointing pistols at the Devil will do you no good. Williams’ delivery of the film’s last line is a keeper. “Welcome to Hell (pause) mu-tha-fuckas!!!”

Candyman (1992): Who can take a meathook/Stick it into you/Chop up half the ghetto and seduce White women too? The Candyman! The Candyman can!

I’m sure Sammy Davis Jr. wasn’t singing about this Candyman, a spirit originally created by Clive Barker in a short story called “The Forbidden.” I read it, and it was nothing like this movie short of its general, creepy premise that one’s beliefs can keep evil alive. Virginia Madsen is fantastic as a grad student roaming Chicago’s Cabrini-Green looking for a tall Black man who’s freaking out the neighborhood. No, not J.J. Evans! This dude who, if you say his name 5 times in a mirror, shows up to butcher you with a meathook attached to the stump on his arm. Assisting Madsen is Kasi Lemmons, who starred with the aforementioned Rusty Cundieff in his Fear of a Black Hat, and who seemed to be the sidekick Negro to a lot of White chicks in danger (see The Silence of the Lambs). Lemmons gets, in my opinion, the most terrifying scene in Candyman.

Director Bernard Rose lays on the gore, but not as thick as he lays on the atmosphere and symbolism. It almost seems like the scariest thing this picture may offer is that the Candyman will run off with the blonde woman he keeps framing for his murders. Or is he? Does he even exist, or is he just the product of the overactive imagination of a woman looking for an Other who’s a boogeyman, so she can pretend he’s killing HER victims? Is she 1992’s version of Susan Smith?! I liked how the film kept us wondering, and Tony Todd is one scary Negro, real or imagined. This is the last film I recall scaring the shit out of me.

Def by Temptation (1990): I have to throw this one in here, simply because I love seeing people get jacked up while they’re screwing. Nothing makes me happier than when some guy thinks he’s about to get some in a movie, and then his booty call turns out to be an alien or the Devil. “Gurrl, he was so bad in bed that Miss Thing turned into Satan and killed his ass!” Def is famous for Ernest Dickerson’s fine cin-tog and a scene where John Canada Terrell runs stark naked toward the camera after realizing that his honey dip is really Hell Dip. He was ready to go running into the night butt ball naked in order to escape.

He doesn’t make it.

Anaconda (1997): This one gets mentioned because it bucks the trend on minorities in horror movies. The huge, CGI generated snake eats all the White people, leaving every single minority alive. And he had some fine choices: Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez. I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat J. Lo? Her name sounds like Jell-O. The snake actually does eat one minority, the guy who brought that boatful of Caucasians (including Owen Wilson and Jon Voight in one of the greatest bad performances ever!) to his dinner table in the river. Talk about being ungrateful!

Oh yeah, the snake’s black, so not only are Negroes scary, Black snakes are too. Interpret that as you will.

Special thanks to this Black Horror Movies website for the links to reviews!


Kevin J. Olson said...

Ha! This was wonderful stuff. I love the reference to "Vampire in Brooklyn"!

I'd like to add Bobby Rhodes from the brilliant Italian gore-fest "Demons" to that list. A simple youtube search of 'Bobby Rhodes Demons" will show you why he was so great. Or just go to my blog and click Bobby Rhodes. The man was a genius.

But seriously, this was a lot of fun and thanks for reminding me about Clarence Williams' performance in "Tales From the Hood". I almost had forgotten about it...

odienator said...

Kevin: I'd like to add Bobby Rhodes from the brilliant Italian gore-fest "Demons" to that list.

I remember him from my viewing of Demons back when I was in college. I remember he also appeared in a flick with Fred Williamson back in the early 90s.

Where the hell is Rosemary, Kevin?

Kevin J. Olson said...

Was the movie he starred in "Black Cobra"? Literally the Stallone vehicle "Cobra", but with Fred Williamson instead -- thus Black Cobra.

I know that Rhodes has made a living, like Williamson did in the late 80's/90's, making really bad Italian horror and action films.

Hal said...

I think Rosalind Cash had one of her last roles in 'Tales from the Hood' as well. Great actress, outstanding in the early 1970's scarefest 'Omega Man'.

'Abby' is an absolute scream, from the same man who gave us 'The Manitou', William Girdler.

Two more favorites of mine are 'Sugar Hill' (though I wish it had been Ms. Cash instead of Marki Bey, it was still a lot of fun) and 'J.D.'s Revenge', which features Joan Pringle at her finest and a great performance by Glyn Turman.

odienator said...

Kevin, I forgot what the movie was called, but it was around 1992. I'll have to go look it up on imDB. Didn't Williamson also appear in one of those Italian post-apocalyptic zombie movies in the 90's too?

Hal, J.D.'s Revenge has been requested numerous times here at BMV! If I had seen it recently, I would have written about it in this post, but I haven't seen J.D.'s Revenge in at least 20 years. My memories of it are sketchy at best, but I'd love to revisit it.

Here's what I always think of when I remember J.D.'s Revenge. When I worked in the video store, we had J.D.'s Revenge playing on the customer TV one night. It was late and the store was closing. This teenage boy, about 14, came into the store. His Mom frequented the store, so I let him roam a bit despite wanting to go home. "You got five minutes," I told him. "OK, thanks man!" he said before running to the karate section of the store.

He quickly became interested in the J.D.'s Revenge sex scene that started playing on the TV. I looked over and saw him. He was glued to the TV! Smoke was coming out of his ears.

Suddenly, the TV went off. He turned around with this "Oh my God What happened!!!!" look on his overheating face, to find me pointing the remote control like Clint Eastwood. It was O.D.'s Revenge!

Immediately, he became embarrassed, putting his head down and looking at me like a hurt puppy. I felt terrible. I remembered what it was like sneaking into R-rated movies when I was 13 or 14, in the hopes I'd see something to engage my overheating loins. Hell, I saw J.D. in theaters when I was EIGHT.

The teen started to leave the store, still looking embarrassed.
"Yo," I yelled out. "Wait up." I popped the tape out of our player and put it in a case. "You bring this shit back tomorrow, and don't tell your mama I gave it to you!" He lit up like Christmas morning! He must have said thanks about 10 times before I kicked him out. And yes, he brought it back.

Corrupting the youth. Just another service provided by your friendly neighborhood Odienator.

Hal said...

Odie: Great story! And I can relate to that whole corrupted youth thing. My parents probably didn't mean to be so permissive, but it happened anyway. I remember seeing LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT from the back seat of the car at the drive-in when I was 8, and I surely shouldn't have been allowed to! Not to mention WALKING TALL, COFFY and numerous others around that time.

I DVR'd "J.D.'s REVENGE" about a year ago. The main flaw IMO is that Gossett looks way too young for the character he is playing. It's the only time I can recall seeing Joan Pringle do a nude scene, and I must say that Theodore Wilson was one lucky man based on what I saw. Turman is really, really good, and Arthur Marks directed several films in the genre, and I can't recall seeing one I didn't like (FRIDAY FOSTER, for example, is my second favorite Grier film and BUCKTOWN is probably my favorite Fred Williamson vehicle).

odienator said...

Hal, I have this great Blaxploitation book that has an interview with Arthur Marks, as well as a poster from practically every Blaxploitation movie ever made. The book also has an interview with the director of 1977's Fight For Your Life, a William Sanderson movie about White supremacists who terrorize a Black preacher's family. It's STILL banned in England!

I went to see COFFY and all the Pam Grier movies in the theater. We loved her! She was tough and topless! And she had weapons in her Afro! WHOO!

Turner Classic Movies ran Coffy and Foxy Brown on their Underground series one Friday night at 2 AM. I bet it was the dirtiest double feature ever shown on TCM!

Matt Zoller Seitz said...

"Anaconda" is a terrible film with three virtues: ridiculous special effects (the snake leaping out of the water like Shamu); Jon Voight's PERFORMANCE!!!!! as the Quint clone; and the moment where Ice Cube calls the snake a bitch and bashes its skull with a rifle butt.