Tag Archives: 1970s

Good Lord! *Choke*: Supernatural Superheroes

12 Aug

I mentioned already that one thing I like a lot about crappy horror comics from the 1960s and 70s is that they consist of encapsulated, one-off stories that don’t involve superheroes and their stupid fucking personal dilemmas. However, I was lying when I wrote that. Horror comics (and their nearly identical cousins, war comics) would routinely showcase heroes and serial stories in an effort to get people to buy the stupid things on a regular basis. In the post-Golden Age era, I think the first hero team created solely to deal with supernatural and monster-sized threats was Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown, who debuted in a decidedly non-horror comic, Showcase number six. Consisting of four daredevils with no super powers, the Challengers would take on any job too dangerous or weird for usual government task forces and agencies, which implies that until they came on the scene we were totally vulnerable to countless attacks by inter-dimensional squid and gigantic beasts made entirely from atomic energy.

There were often regular serial features included in these horror comics, almost always to bad effect (and quite often, only in the DC titles). Dr. 13: The Ghost-Breaker was featured as the last story in issues of Ghosts from 1980-1981, questionably chronicling a character who debunked hauntings in a comic titled If You Don’t Believe in GHOSTS We Challenge You to Read True Tales of the Weird and Supernatural. Johnny Peril, an “adventurer of the weird,” was featured in issues of The Unexpected. And most of these DC horror comics were hosted by some forgettable Vampira reject (no dis to Cain and Abel), a throwback to EC Comics’ trio of witches that hosted their horror titles. But there is one group of superheroes who, though they arguably did not debut in the pages of any horror comic, are the best defenders of humanity against supernatural forces bar none. And that group of heroes is known as the Doom Patrol.

I first became familiar with the Doom Patrol when I was in my first year of junior high and Grant Morrison had taken over writing duties for a resurrected version of this weird team’s title. I was unaware of their legacy at the time, though it didn’t impede my enjoyment of the series under Morrison’s authorship one bit. I read it for a little while, until my dad quit working for DC Comics (for the second time) and I stopped thinking about the Doom Patrol. I forgot about the series completely, in fact, until the late 1990s when I began creeping my way back into comics by way of trade collections and saw it in a burgeoning section of Vertigo titles at Cosmic Comics on West 23rd Street (now Manhattan Comics under seemingly new ownership). I remembered having enjoyed the series as a pubescent pre-teen and vowed to pick it up again sometime, after I’d waded through The Preacher and collections of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. Having already tested the comic years earlier, I felt sure that I would like it, unlike my hit-or-miss attempts at reading DMZ or Ex Machina.

And then, I forgot about it for another eight years.

Eventually, I read through Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol and loved every weird, surreal minute of it. It was, and remains, the best self-aware comic–yes, even better than Morrison’s Animal Man and John Byrne’s She-Hulk–and this title is truly the only one of its type. There are plenty of superhero teams with weird abilities that secretly keep the space-time continuum in check, but how many of them also have issues dedicated to complete parody and satire of other genres? I read through the entire six paperback run of Doom Patrol in about a week, then re-read it, then did something I could never have done when I read the first issue in 1987: I went on the internet and did a search for “Doom Patrol.” And there, I made a startling discovery: Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol wasn’t the first one, in fact it wasn’t even the second or the third. The first Doom Patrol series began publication in 1963, a few months before John Kennedy’s brains splattered his wife’s dress in the back of a convertible in Dallas. At that point, being who I am, I determined to read the original series and learn more about this strange group of freaks that saved the world so many times from unseen and incomprehensible disasters.

Then, I forgot about it for three more years.

About a month ago, I was poking around that venerable New York institution The Strand, and I discovered volumes 1-4 of the DC Classics Archives edition of Doom Patrol at a very affordable price, and I quickly snapped them up. I am no stranger to the Silver Age of comic books, having learned long ago to read these titles with my tongue planted firmly in cheek when regarding the patently obvious pandering and ridiculous pseudo-science that is their hallmark. I began reading these hardback editions, and you know…I started to like them. Really like them, not just in a detached, ironic way. The Doom Patrol were freaks, yes, and their stories formulaic and largely predictable (though I could never have predicted a villain as stupid and weird as Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man), and yet there was something more real about these odd characters, more real to me than billionaire Bruce Wayne or zit-faced Peter Parker. The action is telegraphed: wheelchair-bound leader Niles Caulder gets a distress signal and sends the team out to deal with some incorrigible disaster. But in between the action, there are quips, quarrels, self-reflective statements that make these fictional mutants seem much more human. There’s even a marriage and an adoption within the series, a rare Silver Age moment where there’s a change to the plot that isn’t wiped away by the next issue. I think the best example of this kind of chicanery was when the Doom Patrol set out to find a group of atomic mutants bent on destroying the world with their eerie mutant powers (which consisted of them shooting rays out of their eyes and/or limbs). The team splits up to cover more ground, and in doing so two ancillary members of the group, Mento and his adopted son Beast Boy (later Changeling, then Beast Boy again) discover the Abominable Snowman. The creature starts to attack, but Beast Boy thwarts the Snowman by showing him a picture of Alfred E. Newman of MAD magazine fame. It’s a little aside that has nothing to do with the immediate story but which sets the tone for the series nicely.

I liked the first four volumes so much, I went and found the final, fifth volume, where the Doom Patrol actually sacrifices their lives in order to save a remote fishing village in Maine (under stupidly complicated circumstances, take my word for it). How many comic book series end with the protagonists dying? However, no comic book series ever “ends,” as evidenced by the subsequent versions of the Doom Patrol that continue to the date of this writing. Having read only two authors’ work on it, I am far from an expert, but in my opinion the Doom Patrol are the best bunch of supernatural superheroes, or perhaps superheroes of the supernatural, in comic books. If only they’d been building superintendents, they’d be supernatural superhero supers.

I can’t end this without addressing a bit of controversy: the contention that Marvel Comics bit the idea for the X-Men from DC Comics’ Doom Patrol, and the lesser controversy that the idea for the Doom Patrol came from Marvel’s Fantastic Four. Those uncanny Marvel muties debuted three months after Doom Patrol, suggesting that a direct cribbing is unlikely, yet a salacious rumor persists that shadowy double agents of Marvel overheard Arnold Drake pitching the idea for Doom Patrol and scurried back to Stan Lee to divulge this million-dollar notion. Except it didn’t actually make DC a million dollars, so clearly the concept was wielded more effectively by Kirby and Lee. Whatever the case and its thin premises, I don’t think it matters who came up with the idea first. Sympathetic uglies have been saviors of luscious damsels throughout literary history, and if these guys hadn’t thought up the idea, some other loser eventually would have. In conclusion, comic books are for nerds and if you’ve read this to the end then you definitely are one.

Good Lord! *Choke*

15 Jul

A childhood friend of my father’s moved to sunny Los Angeles after divorcing his wife. It was around 1985, and in preparation for this cross-country jaunt, the guy had to sort through a large collection of comic books. A tremendous collection of comic books, in fact. Three entire floors of a house worth of comic books, all stacked on top of each other, often to the ceiling and blocking out the entrances of several rooms. My brother, my friend and I were all enlisted to deal with this mass of funny books, perhaps for some nominal pay but with the implicit understanding that we would be making off with some printed goodies.

Unfortunately, at this time, my brother, my friend and I knew little to nothing about comic books. My brother liked Judge Dredd, which was printed on much better paper in that funny, oversized trim that the United Kingdom uses for their periodicals. I was a big fan of Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Bros., reprints of which I’d pilfered from my father’s nightstand. I don’t recall that my friend liked any comics at the time, but if he did they certainly weren’t his core interest. The three of us beheld a trove that could have stocked its own comic book convention, and none of us had any idea what it was worth or what to do with it. My brother made off with a few issues of Playboy magazine and some of the more salacious-looking Epic line of comics. My friend took a box of Vigilante issue number one, which I assume he is still sitting on in wait of a cushy retirement. And I took home a box full of crappy horror comics from the 1970s.

Horror comics have a long and venerated tradition, taking off just as superheroes were waning in popularity after World War II. The great grandpappy of them all was Bill Gaines of MAD magazine notoriety, who took over his dad’s educational comics publishing business and turned it into something much more profitable. It was his books The Haunt of Fear and The Vault of Horror, along with half a dozen other titles, that were specially targeted as obscene by Frederic Wertham in his book Seduction of the Innocent. Buckling almost immediately to social pressure, Gaines’ Entertaining Comics dropped much of their horror and war comics line to concentrate on humor and romance. These condemned tomes are well-known by fans of comic books and Americana, with their bloody, high-quality artwork and cold, stark writing produced by a Leroy lettering set. Imagined hideous cackles of “Eh…eh…eh…” and almost audible shrieks of “Good Lord! *Choke*” were mainstays of this abolished art form.

Though it wasn’t quite abolished, was it? Because there I was, in 1985, holding comics published ten and twenty years earlier and with no foreknowledge of their tortured history. I guess some writers and artists couldn’t give up the game of fear, for horror comics continued to be produced, by both DC and Marvel, until the early 1980s. These were the comics I held in my hands, not the illustrious EC Comics of the 1950s. What I had were a whole bunch of Tales of the Unexpected, Where Monsters Dwell, and GHOSTS. I grabbed about sixty of these for want of knowing what else to take, and because our gracious benefactor wasn’t exactly willing to part with anything good. I took these comics home and, as is my fashion, proceeded to devour them instantly. I loved every poorly-rendered page and obvious ironic twist that hoisted each story’s antagonist by his own petard. I loved them so much, I read them again. And again. And again.

I’ve noted that I was never much of a comic book collector, but these shitty horror comics I did collect, kept in an empty wine bottle box in a corner of my room for instant and incessant retrieval. I won’t say that some of these comics weren’t rendered to shreds by sneakered feet as they lay on the floor of my bedroom, I won’t say that some choice issues didn’t end up in the garbage after one of my mother’s periodic whirlwind bedroom cleaning sprees that stopped happening around the time I reached puberty. But while I saw practically every other comic book I owned as disposable, these I regarded as precious. In fact, I still own the bulk of them to this day, each one creased and torn and fiscally ruined through repeated handling by my greasy hands. I think they’re still in the same wine box, even. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

A typical story in these comics went like this: two gentlemen who adore the same woman enter business together. Their business thrives, and both men attempt to woo the object of their collective affections, but ultimately she chooses one man over the other and they marry. The loser in this scenario seems affable and conciliatory, but secretly he harbors a lot of spite and murderous revenge fantasies. The jilted lover kills his business partner in a way that seems accidental, often making it look like a mishap that happened on the job. For instance, if the two men are pearl divers, then the murderer would fix his victim’s scuba gear to malfunction under water. If the men own a circus, then the killer might release one of the big top’s tigers at an appropriate time and place that will result in the victim being mauled. If they were rabbit breeders, then the victim might be thrown into a vat of bunnies and left to suffocate in fluffy softness. That last scenario never happened in any comic I read, but it should have.

The newly-wedded widow mourns this loss, and the bloodthirsty executioner exploits her vulnerability to become her lover. There is a brief period of happiness for the murderous criminal, often lasting four panels or less, but eventually the butcher is killed, very often by the flesh-mottled skeletonized corpse of his business partner. This is usually where the story ends, so we can only assume that this walking zombie goes on to terrorize the public while his beleaguered wife is committed to a mental institution for the rest of her life. Everything wrapped up in a tidy package, justice is served. Mind you, every issue of these stupid comics had a minimum of three individual stories, each one following a similar plot. So once you’re done reading about one terrifying supernatural incident, you’ve got to steel yourself for at least two more. Or, in the way I read them, two dozen more.

I think that my predilection to grab these horror comics over The New Teen Titans or whatever says a lot about my sensibilities and what I like. Horror comics of the 60s and 70s are, like shitty movies: successful in their failures, earnest in their endeavors but falling short of the mark more often than not. They feature shabbily-drawn monsters, wraiths, and demons, each just a little bit better than what you could scratch out yourself with ball-point pen in your loose leaf notebook. But what I believe was really enticing to me, what I think I can still appreciate about these comics, twenty-five years after first receiving them, is that they are all self-contained stories. Crummy, formulaic stories, but stories nonetheless, each one divvied into a satisfying, bite-sized chunk. I think something has been lost from comics since they did away with these kinds of titles so many years ago, titles that exist outside of the retarded canonical continuity that both Marvel and DC attempt to shore up with increasingly futile and overwrought attempts. Comic books don’t have to be about flying muscular people that beat alien starfish to puddles of goo, they can be about ordinary life, love, and shuffling, moss-strewn vengeance from beyond the grave.

Or, as I will show in part two of this essay, they can be about all of those things, and more.

You Would Be the First to Get Vicked

26 May

Nostalgia is big business. The biggest concert tours in the world are, for the most part, fueled by people’s nostalgia for their youth, when they gave a shit about music. eBay exists primarily to supply upwardly-mobile adults with rescued and rehabilitated toys from their childhoods. I think that the business of nostalgia was invented by Joe Franklin, who used to have a late night talk show on WWOR TV that ran for something like ten billion years. People have always gotten wistful for the good ol’ days, but it was Joe Franklin who dusted off those relics of the good ol’ days and stuck them under harsh studio lights for people to fawn over. Stories of yesteryear no longer need to be passed down from generation to generation, you can now record and relay the actual artifact for future historians and pop culture junkies to puzzle over for all eternity. So you have many lenses through which to view history, be it through the land disputes and wars which have created the world’s borders we know today, or through a subtle progression of the Coca-Cola logo.

There’s so much media reference for the twentieth century that it’s difficult to know which memories are our own and which have been created by nostalgic reverie. I remember when the space shuttle Challenger blew up, I was in the sixth grade and a special assembly had to be hastily arranged to inform students and allow teachers a space to cry. In my mind’s eye, I can recall sitting in a classroom with a bunch of students, watching the space shuttle lift off and soar towards the clouds, then suddenly vanish in a bright puff that spewed two other smoke trails to either side of the craft. I can recall everyone gasping and holding their hands up to their mouths, my teacher wide-eyed in shock at the occurrence. The thing is that I didn’t watch the Challenger lift off live on television, my sixth grade teacher didn’t arrange for us to watch it during class like some other teachers had. However, I saw repeats of the disaster after school and for many days afterward, viewed footage of classrooms around America watching the horror unfold on television sets rolled in by maintenance. So my actual memory of the event, which should include that I knew nothing of the space shuttle’s planned takeoff or that it had civilian passengers until after the fact, is faulty.

Despite my not actually being aware of its scope, I was alive and cognizant for Challenger’s fatal flight. But I can’t remember a thing about the 1970s. In fact, one of my earliest memories is watching President Ronald Reagan speak on television, Jimmy Carter a forgotten footnote already by the time I was five years old. I grew up on the Northeastern end of Queens, and if my parents took me to Manhattan before I was in kindergarten, I don’t remember it. I recall going into “the city” with my parents during the 80s, terrified of the rocking subway with its windows and maps darkened by spraypaint and indelible ink, the lights flickering off for minutes at a time, conductor announcements crackling loudly through distended speakers that rendered them completely inaudible. I remember a lot of filthy winos and fat cops who lazily watched people drinking and smoking dope outdoors from behind inscrutable mustaches. It all scared the shit out of me and made me want to rush back to my native Flushing with its endearing neighborhood drunks and white trash weirdos. These were the last vestiges of 1970s New York, though I couldn’t comprehend that at the time. And it looked fucking awful.

It’s easy to romanticize New York City of the 1970s, what with all of the books, movies and music that make it seem like a hedonistic utopia. Sure, flicks like Taxi Driver and The Taking of Pelham 123 ain’t all sweet. There’s a lot of anger and tension in the works of The Last Poets. But the ideal is that 1970s New York was a place where you could get away with shit, where you could drink a beer while walking outdoors past peep shows, savoring the aroma of unwashed junkies. The subways were glittering canvases of color, punk rock an urgent expression of malaise. One gets the impression that budding artistic geniuses populated every block in Manhattan, each of them coiled and ready to splatter game-changing mindfucks on a street smart populace thoroughly jaded by repeated mindfucks. This was a time before AIDS, a time before crack cocaine, when potential rewards appeared to outstrip their respective risks.

I love it when some goatee-having hipster dressed like Sammy Davis, Jr. on vacation complains about the current state of New York City and whines that he wishes it were more like it was in the 1970s. What the fuck do you know about it, dude? You like the Talking Heads and you watched The Warriors and thought you had it all figured out. Buddy, you would be the first to get robbed. The very same cop who might look the other way while you smoked a doobie in Lincoln Center would likewise ignore the four teenagers digging through your pockets while holding a box cutter to your throat. Is not being able to read any signage or see out of subway windows worth bringing back graffiti on trains? Because from my experience in the 80s, for every spectacularly-painted train car there were twenty that looked like they’d been through a war. Yeah, you’d like to have seen Blondie’s inaugural performance at CBGB’s but you probably aren’t willing to be on the receiving end of a Doc Marten steel tip to the mouth. Your version of 1970s New York City mercifully dismisses the homicides, the disenfranchised non-white people living on blocks of burning buildings, the squalor. Your favorite bagel joint on Bushwick Avenue. was once a looted storefront when the neighborhood was held under siege for two weeks in 1977. And if you resided in that neighborhood then, you would be dead.

Today New York City is homogenized, pasteurized, fortified with vitamin D. Its teeth have been capped, its nails have been tastefully filed, and you can enjoy a shopping mall experience like you might in almost any other major American city on the map. What made New York interesting has all but been eradicated. But what made the place interesting was never the danger, it was not the filth and grime. It was the people who challenged the status quo, who refused unjust and pointless laws and who knew the value of minding your own business. I know you like running around Bedford Avenue with your can of Montana spray paint, scrawling inanity on the sides of buildings and on lamp posts. But you should know that if you tried that thirty-five years ago, you could have gotten your meat lumped. Not by picky residents on a coalition for neighborhood beautification, but by other writers who wanted to steal your shit. And that would have been a blessing, because if the Savage Nomads caught you out there, it would be over.

If You Don’t Watch These Movies, You’re Racist

15 Feb

Fifth Avenue was slow in adopting hip-hop, but once ad agencies and marketing departments realized there were Big Buck$ in that beat, they took to it like gangbusters. Today, it’s hard to imagine a jingle or pop song without the familiar boom, snare, boom boom, snare, a beat that backs many forms of modern music, from country to country western. T-shirts emblazoned with logos and designs are common fare for the Wal-Mart rack, while graffiti seems to grow and grow worldwide. Hip-hop is a culture that has intermingled with so many mainstream cultures that it’s become the undercurrent to our daily lives. It’s hard to imagine a time that hip-hop wasn’t ever present in our society.

But such a time did exist, and relatively speaking it wasn’t that long ago. Hip-hop didn’t get absorbed into popular culture until Bill Clinton’s second term, though it had, by then, made significant inroads. When I was a little kid, hip-hop didn’t even exist, at least not in my cloistered world. I didn’t hear a rap song until radio station Z100 played “Jam On It” by Newcleus around 1985. In fact, rap music and hip-hop culture had to be presented to much of America, white or otherwise, before it took hold and spread like wildfire. The following four movies were earnest attempts at doing just that.

Style Wars, 1984
Of the four movies presented in this essay, Style Wars can be said to be the most “real,” in that it is a documentary instead of a fictionalized account of hip-hop culture. Originally planned as a documentary about break dancing, producers Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant began concentrating more on graffiti and rapping as the fad of break dancing started to die down (this film, along with Flashdance, helped revive it for a little while in the mid-eighties). You don’t have to be a fan of hip-hop to enjoy this engaging and well-made documentary, so quotable that some of my friends and I can speak solely in Style Wars language. We greet each other with “Gigolo! What you know?!” and describe a weekend plan as “everybody getting united at the bench, 149th Street, Grand Concourse.” This is probably my second favorite movie of all time after The Human Tornado.

Wild Style, 1983
This movie has been called an addendum to Style Wars, and it may be, at that. Featuring everyone in the hip-hop scene that wasn’t in Style Wars, Wild Style is a kind of Romeo and Juliet story about a graffiti writing couple’s struggle between staying true to the underground or blowing up and becoming minor celebrities among Lower East Side phonies. Or something like that. It’s an indie film at its most indie, which means it’s short on plot and technical ability, but it is long on actual footage of rap parties and writing graffiti in train yards. It’s rather touching that this movie attempted to be a crossover film to the mainstream by including Patti Astor in a miniature role. Wild Style is so bumbling, it’s adorable, and that’s besides the fact that Lady Pink is an 80s cutie throughout the movie.

Krush Groove, 1985
A fictionalized account of record label Def Jam’s early days, Krush Groove is different from the previous two movies I mentioned in that it doesn’t bother with many other elements of hip-hop besides the rapping and deejaying. Blair Underwood stars as Russell Simmons, and Russell Simmons stars as a nightclub promoter, and that’s just about the only thing coherent in the film. There’s a whole story about how Simmons’ acts get poached by another label and then the meat heads from House Party 2 beat the snot out of him for a while, but you can content yourself with watching a teenage LL Cool J in his big screen debut, as well as Fat Boys gluttonous montage “All You Can Eat,” a worthwhile reason to watch the movie by itself.

Beat Street, 1984
This would be the White Devil of the four movies presented here, being that it had the biggest budget and was distributed by MGM. Featuring Rae Dawn Chong and practically no one else worth mentioning, Beat Street is a kind of amalgam of the other three movies, featuring the most interesting elements of each film and discarding the personality. Oddly enough, though it’s the most mainstream of these four movies, it has some of the best scenes of urban blight of any of them, including a main character living as a squatter with his family, something which was a reality for many more New Yorkers during the 1970s than were Adidas sneakers. Of the four movies, this is probably the most watchable, but it’s the least interesting from a contextual perspective. Watch it only after watching the others, but don’t watch them all in the same day. You’ll probably want to go out and break dance after such a marathon.

Motherfucking Dolemite

1 Feb

There are few entertainers as diverse and eccentric as Rudy Ray Moore, aka Dolemite. Rudy began as an R&B singer, but after a favorable reception while performing for his fellow servicemen in the Army, he developed a strong comedy routine, mainly based around raunchy one-liners and put downs. X-rated material kept him off television, but Moore developed a strong following, particularly in Black clubs around the country. He released around thirty albums combining music and filthy jokes which were wildly popular. One of his common routines was that his dick was somehow so mind-blowing, women would spontaneously shit when he slid it inside them.

Moore was also an accomplished actor, and was featured in about twenty movies, starring in most of them. Most of his recent features bear no scrutiny, but he was featured in the Insane Clown Posse’s movie Big Money Hustlas as Dolemite for was was the first time in twenty years. Then Moore shit in the Dolemite franchise by making real shitfests like Shaolin Dolemite. Really, when enjoying Dolemite–and you will enjoy Dolemite, I guarantee it–there are three movies to view. The Dolemite Trilogy, I call it, and it is as follows:

1. The Human Tornado, 1976
Mainstream America was introduced to the character of Dolemite in the 1975 movie Dolemite, a fairly serviceable Blaxploitation film about a pimp who gets set up and enacts his revenge. It’s a pretty kick-ass movie, but it doesn’t hold a candle to its sequel, The Human Tornado. The film isn’t easy to describe, the plot is about how Dolemite, while running from a racist cop’s homicide prosecution, saved his friend and club owner Queen Bee from slavery at the hands of a rival club owner, and also rescued her dancers from a torture chamber in Pasadena. That sentence doesn’t do the movie justice, however, really the movie has something for everyone: comedy, action, drama, sex, dancing, music, and even a Brazilian guy with nunchucks. The kung fu fighting is really something to behold, and the soundtrack is absolutely awesome. In fact, Landspeed records re-released it recently, so be sure to pick it up if you like dirty funk music.

2. Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law, 1977
During a vicious lightning storm, a severely pregnant woman gives birth first to a watermelon, and then to a nine year-old boy who attacks the delivering doctor and then pounces on his own father for “stabbing me in my sleep.” And that’s all before the opening credits. Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law is a more plot-heavy movie than The Human Tornado, and follows a similar structure to most three-act plays. Petey Wheatstraw makes a deal with Satan to best the rival comic team of Leroy & Skillet, and then tricks the devil who wants Petey to marry his hideous, demonic daughter. The real devil here is in the details (har har), as Moore showcases some of his best comedy as well as the talents of other Black comics in his circuit. FYI, this soundtrack is pretty fabulous as well.

3. Disco Godfather, 1979
I seem to recall this movie was called The Avenging Disco Godfather when I first saw it around twenty years ago (sigh), but all internet evidence points to the contrary. In any case, Disco Godfather is definitely the most esoteric of The Dolemite Trilogy, and has the most experimental camera work and what could pass for special effects of the three films. It’s about a retired cop who tears up the disco club and the streets, cleaning house of the prolific PCP dealers that got his nephew hooked. Or something like that. All I remember is the last scene, where Rudy Ray Moore is forced to take PCP via a gas mask and endures the longest, most surreal hallucination scene in any movie. It’s worth sitting through for that payoff alone. And the soundtrack? Surprise, it’s fantastic!

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