Sunday, 11 July 2010

Soul Vengeance (1975)

There are bizarre movies and there are really bizarre movies. And then there’s Soul Vengeance. Bizarre is simply a hopelessly inadequate word to describe this 1975 blaxploitation flick.

It starts off appearing to be a fairly routine blaxploitation feature. A drug deal goes wrong when the cops turn up. They pursue the two black suspects. A prostitute working the streets tries to help one of them escape. Then the cops set off for the precinct house with one of the suspects. So far pretty standard stuff.

Then one of the cops tells him partner to pull off into a laneway so he can work the suspect over. He gets more than a little carried away. And now the movie makes its first turn towards weirdness. The cop tries to castrate the black dude. OK, maybe not too weird, but keep watching.

Then we find out why the cop was so excited. On a stakeout he and his partner spot a black drug dealer having sex with a white woman. Only the white woman happens to be the crazy cop’s wife. And then we find out that the said cop just can’t cut the mustard in the bedroom any more which is why his wife is looking for satisfaction elsewhere.

The black guy we saw being arrested earlier is named Charles and three years later he’s released from prison. He wants revenge on the cops who busted him, and on the prosecutor and the judge who sent him down as well. It still doesn’t sound too strange, but like I said, keep watching. Charles had a girlfriend named Twyla, but she’s now working as a stripper and shacked up with a really nasty bad guy.

Charles has met up with the hooker who tried to help him three years earlier and they fall in love and move in together. But Charles is still determined to have his revenge. And now we come to the method by which he does this. It seems that the crazed cop didn’t manage to cut his manhood off, but for some obscure reason (which may have been explained but I missed it) his manhood has now mutated into a gigantic Penis of Death. The Penis of Death has a number of useful properties. It can (temporarily at least) turn women into zombie-like slaves. And it can be used to strangle his enemies. I told you this was going to get weird.

Now you might think that any movie as twisted and odd as this has to be entertaining at the very least. Unfortunately Soul Vengeance has some major problems. The pacing is glacial. The acting is exceptionally bad but it’s not bad in an entertaining Z-movie way, it’s just bad in a dull way.

And while the premise would seem to be ideally suited to a rather campy over-the-top approach writer-director Jamaa Fanaka instead tries to get arty. With very mixed results.

The Region 4 DVD release seems to be uncut, so the incoherence of the plot can’t be blamed on missing footage. This DVD is also widescreen but unfortunately it’s a horrendously bad transfer which doesn’t help matters.

Originally released as Welcome Home Brother Charles this movie can’t really be considered a success on any level but it has such a massive weirdness factor that despite its serious flaws it’s worth seeing just for that reason. It’s the sort of movie that sounds too improbable to exist but it’s real. The 70s were truly a golden age for eccentric movies.

1 comment:

venoms5 said...

Amazingly, Wal Mart stocked this on their shelves for around $8. Aside from this movies premise and wild plot "devices", Fanaka did much better movies with EMMA MAE (BLACK SISTERS REVENGE) and the PENITENTIARY series, imo. SOUL VENGEANCE is definitely worth a look, though.