The Human Tornado

a.k.a Dolemite 2
a.k.a Human Tornado

Release Date:  (1976)
Genre:  Action/Comedy
Rating:  R
Director: Cliff Roquemore
Studio(s): Comedian International, Xenon Entertainment Group, Dimension Pictures, Vinegar Syndrome.
Running Time: 98 mins.
Cast:  Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite), Lady Reed (Queen Bee), Jimmy Lynch (Mr. Motion), Gloria Delaney (Hurricane Annie), J.B. Baron (Sheriff Beatty), Jerry Jones (Detective ‘Pistol Pete’ Blakeley), Herb Graham (Cavaletti), Ernie Hudson (Bo).

Story:  Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) is back and badder than ever in THE HUMAN TORNADO! After being run out of town by a racist sheriff, Dolemite returns to LA only to discover that Queen Bee’s (Lady Reed) club has been taken over by the mafia. On top of that they have also kidnapped two of Queen Bee’s top girls! With the law hot on his tail, Dolemite rounds up the toughest Kung-Fu fighting badasses in Southern California to take on the mob, culminating in one of the craziest surprise endings in blaxploitation film history!  Source:  Daarac.org.

Full Synopsis:  In Citronell, Alabama, Dolemite performs his comedy routine to a rapt audience while a scantily-clad woman performs a provocative dance.  Later, Dolemite drives to his hilltop mansion, where a party is in progress.

He leads Mrs. Bently into the bedroom and tells her that he will be with her later. In the living room, a man delivers the bad news that plans to build a home for boys have been abandoned. Dolemite offers his own home to the cause and receives an enthusiastic round of applause. Dolemite returns to the bedroom and tells Mrs. Bently that he needs to “get this shit over with.” She replies, “Dolemite, you’re worth every damn cent I pay you.”

Sheriff Bently and his deputies raid the party.  Party guests Bo, Jimmy and Dough see the police car from the patio and run inside to tell the others, but none are able to escape, and Bently holds the group at gunpoint. When Bently and Deputy Charlie attack a young woman, she falls into the doorway of the bedroom, where Dolemite is with Mrs. Bently.  On the sheriff’s order, Charlie kills Mrs. Bently, but Dolemite shoots Charlie, escapes through a back door, and tumbles down the hill to the road, where Bo, Jimmy and Dough are waiting in a car. Bently and Deputy Jethro give chase. After killing Jethro and destroying Bo’s car in a fiery wreck, Dolemite and his comrades travel on foot. Jimmy flags down an openly gay white man, and when Dolemite, shotgun in hand, demands a ride to California, the driver cheerfully obliges.

Along the way, Dolemite phones Queen Bee, who runs a successful nightclub in Los Angeles. She entices Dolemite with the news that dancer Hurricane Annie is pining for him. Meanwhile Mafioso and rival club owner Joe Cavaletti plans to eliminate Queen Bee, and sends three armed henchmen to her club.  Master of ceremonies, Mr. Motion, and star attraction, Java, try to fend them off. The men beat Queen Bee and kidnap Java and a waitress named T.C. Cavaletti forces Queen Bee and her girls to work at his nightclub, the Twenty Grand while Java and T.C. are taken to Cavaletti’s torture house, where an insane old woman torments them with a live snake. Dolemite and his comrades discover that Queen Bee’s home and nightclub are both empty. After searching several nightspots, the group locates Hurricane Annie, who suspects that Queen Bee and her girls are Cavaletti’s prisoners.

They find Queen Bee waiting tables at the Twenty Grand, but she can divulge very little as she is being watched. Dolemite goes home with Hurricane Annie, who teases him about his recent weight gain. They remove their clothes and do exercises on the bed, which leads to sex. The next day, Sheriff Bently appears at the office of Police Captain Ryan, demanding the arrest of Dolemite for the murder of Mrs. Bently. Ryan assigns his Detective Pete Blakeley to the case.

Later, Dolemite learns that Mrs. Cavaletti is a nymphomaniac, and poses as a dealer of erotic paintings as a means to seduce her. After their lovemaking causes the bedroom to collapse around them, Mrs. Cavaletti divulges the location of the torture house. Queen Bee and her girls are staffing Cavaletti birthday party that night and they, along with Mr. Motion, Dolemite’s friends, and karate champion Howard Jackson, plan an attack.  Meanwhile, Dolemite fights his way into the torture house. In the basement, a sadistic henchman puts a live grenade between T.C.’s legs, while a rack of spikes is about to fall on Java.  Dolemite appears, breaks the henchman’s neck, and frees them.

At the party, Mr. Motion and Bo pose as caterers and sneak their comrades into the house. The forces of Dolemite and Queen Bee soon triumph over those of Cavaletti.  Blakeley, Ryan and Bently arrive and find Cavaletti being eaten alive by rats, while Dolemite drives away.  Bently gives chase, shoots Dolemite in the back and says, “Your career is over, stud,” before leaving.  Dolemite sits up, opens his jacket, and reveals a bulletproof vest.  Source:  American Film Institute.  Photo Source(s)/Gifs:  Daarac.org, IMDB.

Trailer:

Dolemite

Release Date:  1975
Genre:   Drama
Rating:  R
DirectorD’Urville Martin
Studio(s):  Comedian International, Dimension Pictures, Vinegar Syndrome, Xenon Entertainment Group.
Running Time:  91 mins.

Cast:   Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite), D’Urville Martin (Willie Green), Jerry Jones (Blakeley), Lady Reed (Queen Bee) and the Dolemite girls: Brenda DeLong, Terri Mosley, Marilyn Shaw, Lynell Smith, Vera Howard, Joy Martin.

Story:   Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore), the baddest pimp in town, has just been released from prison, ready to take revenge on notorious gangster Willie Green (D’Urville Martin), who set him up on a phony drug charge and stole his club, The Total Experience. With the help of his friend Queen Bee (Lady Reed) and their band of Kung Fu fighting vixens, Dolemite takes on every “rat soup eatin’ motherf#%*er” in South Central.  Source:  TCM.

Full Synopsis:  After serving a portion of his twenty-year prison sentence for possession of stolen furs and narcotics, Dolemite, an African American pimp, is offered the chance to exonerate himself if he cooperates with the prison warden in an undercover investigation. Dolemite is adamant that he was framed and deserves to be released from prison, so he agrees to help the warden, who says the crime rate in Dolemite’s neighborhood has spiked in his absence, and Dolemite’s nephew, Little Jimmy, was recently killed by gang members. The next day, three of Dolemite’s prostitutes pick him up from prison. When one of the women notices a group of thugs tailing their car, Dolemite orders the car to be pulled over and retrieves his gun. As the men pull up beside their car, Dolemite emerges from the roadside and shoots the pursuers dead.

At his brothel, Dolemite learns from the madame, Queen Bee, that Willie Green took possession of Dolemite’s nightclub, The Total Experience, as collateral for money he lent to Queen Bee for police fines. Still owing Green $50,000, Queen Bee says the prostitutes have been forced to learn karate to protect themselves. After Dolemite has sex with one of the women, he drives into town, where he is approached by Mitchell, a plainclothes policeman, and his partner.  Dolemite recognizes the pair as the officers who framed and arrested him. The officers frisk Dolemite and produce a bag of white powder, claiming it was under his passenger seat. Dolemite accuses the men of framing him once again and kicks them to the ground as they warn him to leave town.

Later, Dolemite runs into Creeper, a drug addict, whom he addresses as the “Hamburger Pimp.” Creeper complains that Green has raised the price of street drugs, so Dolemite offers to pay Creeper in exchange for information. They go to the flophouse where Creeper has a room. Creeper admits that he witnessed Little Jimmy’s murder, but when Dolemite demands to know who killed his nephew, two thugs burst in. One of the men shoots Creeper dead, but Dolemite steals the killer’s gun and beats the intruders just before Mitchell and his partner arrive. Seeing Dolemite in the middle of the crime scene, they arrest him for murder. Dolemite is bailed out of jail and picked up by a woman named Pinky, who takes him to her house where they engage in sex.  Dolemite retrieves $50,000 in cash that he hid before going to prison, which he hands to Green’s henchmen, telling them to pass it along to Green with instructions to leave town in the next twenty-four hours.

Green alerts Mayor Daley, that Dolemite is causing trouble, and Daley promises to have him killed. At the re-opening of the Total Experience, Green says Dolemite still owes him $100,000 in interest, but offers to waive the interest in exchange for a partnership. When Dolemite refuses, Green instructs his thugs to tear up the club and goes after Dolemite.  Using their karate skills, Dolemite’s prostitutes fight Green’s men as Blakely, an FBI officer, arrives and joins the fray. Green shoots Dolemite in his dressing room, and Dolemite punches him in retaliation, then rips out his entrails. Blakely finds Dolemite injured, then shoots Green in order to take the blame for his death. Dolemite is taken to the hospital, where Mayor Daley sends a hired killer to murder him.

Traveling to an airplane hangar, Blakely shoots Daley as he attempts to climb into a small airplane. Arriving at the hospital, Blakely tells Dolemite that assassins are on their way, but he has a plan to protect him. When the assassins arrive, the receptionist provides the wrong room number, and Dolemite and Blakely ambush the men as they shoot at an empty hospital bed. Believing Dolemite is alone, Mitchell and his partner arrive and begin to arrest him, but Blakely appears and accuses them of corruption. More police arrive, but, at Blakely’s behest, they arrest Mitchell and his partner instead of Dolemite.  Source:  American Film Institute.  Photo Source:  DAARAC.org.  Gif:  Giphy.com.

Trailer:

The Human Tornado

a/k/a Dolemite 2

The Human Tornado

Details
Year of Release:  1976
Genre:  Blaxploitation/Action/Comedy/Drama
Rating: R
Runtime:  108 mins.
Studio(s):  Comedian International Distributors, Dimension Pictures,
Xenon Pictures, Xenon Entertainment Group
Director:   Cliff Roquemore

Cast:   Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite), Lady Reed (Queen Bee), Jimmy Lynch (Mr. Motion), Gloria Delaney (Hurricane Annie), Ernie Hudson (Bo).

Synopsis:  In this sequel to the cult smash Dolemite, we find our hero on the run from a redneck sheriff who has caught Dolemite messin’ with his woman. He and his posse (including a young Ernie Hudson) dodge the sheriff and his bullets in a high-speed chase that takes them to L.A. Upon Dolemite’s arrival, he learns that Queen Bee (Lady Reed) and her Kung Fu Girls have been pushed out of the nightclub business by a ruthless competitor who has ties to the Mob.  With two of the girls held hostage, the Queen and her bees are forced into slavery for their nemesis.The Human Tornado still 1

Enter Dolemite! Following a scene described by Rudy Ray himself as “sensational and sexsational,” Dolemite gets the lowdown on the gang’s hideout. It’s highspeed kung fu Dolemite-style as the rat soup eatin’ motherf***ers get their collective ass kicked.  But the redeneck sheriff is still hot on Dolemite’s trail – can even a Human Tornado fight two battles at once?   Source/Photo Source:  Blaxploitation Pride.

Trailer:

 

The Black Horror Genre

Movies are a powerful tool for manipulating facts, information and images that often affect people’s perceptions, beliefs and mental attitudes toward the subject presented. Throughout the history of motion pictures, horror films, like many other movie genres have revealed, through representations, perceptions of Blacks and Black cultural themes, as well as have contributed to and reflected sociopolitical issues. Early portrayals of African-Americans in films could be considered a low level form of horror because on-screen presentations of Blacks, although not intended to terrify or frighten in the classic sense, did promote stereotypical caricatures which cautioned Whites against a particular race of people that they should be afraid of.

HollaThe horror film genre, as defined by Isabel Christina Pinedo in Recreational Terror: Women and the Pleasure of Horror Film Viewing, is composed of the following elements: (1) it disrupts the everyday world; (2) it transgresses and violates boundaries, (3) it upsets the validity of rationality; (4) it resists narrative closure and (5) it works to evoke fear. Another hallmark of the genre is its complexity. Horror films can provide the most spirited, daring, emotional, fantastic and imaginative narratives but can also feature plots depicting shocking, abhorrent, and unspeakable violence. Physical and emotional violence are often central to the horror film and the genre’s reliance on violence as a key narrative device cannot be overlooked.

The horror film is fascinating because it embraces the unthinkable, while also challenging our ideals of good and evil, depravity and innocence, the divine and the profane. It is one of the most provocative forms of entertainment in its scrutiny of our humanity and our social world.

The Black horror genre is comprised of two categories: Blacks in horror films and Black horror films.

I am Legend“Blacks in horror” films present Blacks and Blackness in the context of horror, even if the film is not wholly or substantially focused on either one. Such films have historically and typically been produced by major studios for mainstream consumption. Many of these films tend to provoke a consensus of what defines horror films – the disruption of the audience’s notions of rational, fear-free, everyday life. These films have also contributed to debates regarding not only Blackness, but also its proximity to interpretations of what is horrifying and where it is embodied. Examples include Night of the Living Dead (1968), Vampira (1974), The People Under the Stairs (1991), I Am Legend (2007).

Street Tales of Terror“Black Horror” films on the other hand are often “race” films. That is they have an added narrative focus that calls attention to racial identity – Black culture, history, ideologies, experiences, politics, language, humor, aesthetics, style, music and the like. Blacks may appear in all manner of horror films, but the films themselves may not be Black per se, in their relation to filmmaker, audience, or the experiences they present. Black horror films have one or more of the following elements: a Black producer, writer, and/or director; an all-Black or predominantly Black cast; hails a Black audience; draws on notions of African-American culture – such as Black vernacular, music, style, urban locations and other aesthetics.  Films like Son of Ingagi (1940), J.D.’s Revenge (1976), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Street Tales of Terror (2004) are included in this category.

Together, “Blacks in horror” films and “Black horror” films offer an opportunity for an examination of how race, racial identities and race relationships are constructed and depicted.

What is not included in the Black horror genre are films that do not provide significant insight into the legacy of Blackness’ relationship to the horrifying. Films where Black characters are incidental or token and where a commentary on Blackness – except to say that it has fleeting relevance – is absent. Such films are those in which Blacks are relegated to the status of victims, sidekicks or largely undeveloped characters.

The history of the Black horror genre begins with silent films. Early films, most featuring White actors in blackface, could be interpreted as horror with their depiction of violent physical and psychological attacks against Blacks. These films reflected the sensibilities of the time and presented destructive and biased views of racial hierarchy and White supremacy. The 1915 film The Birth of a Nation offered one of the most insidious and long-lasting stereotypes of Blacks as unintelligent, vicious beasts. It is believed that the film was used as a recruiting tool for the Ku Klux Klan and as such the societal impact of “on-screen” horror provided inspiration for countless “real-life” horrors. Birth of a Nation 4While many Whites were trying to escape the fictitious on-screen dangers of the ferocious Black masses rising up against them, outside the movie theater, Blacks were actually dying from the factual horrors of being lynched, shot, dragged, raped, beaten, castrated and burned by White supremacy groups like the KKK and other enthused racists who bought into that film’s hate inciting message. It is one thing to be vicariously thrilled or horrified by some gruesome act happening to someone else on the movie screen knowing that the actor eventually washes off the fake blood and goes home, and another to actually experience the horrific and gruesome event in real life with no director to yell “cut.”

Eventually horror films made the transition to portraying Blacks as a symbol of evil by “exoticizing” and distorting African and Haitian folkways and religions, such as the character of the wicked voodoo practitioner in films such as I Walked with a Zombie (1943) or as partially clothed “natives” in films like King Kong (1933) and White Pongo (1945). I Walked with A ZombieThis in turn gave way to an era of characterizing Blacks as comic relief, as a people to be dismissively laughed at and ridiculed. This perception of Blacks as portrayed in mainstream films, is perhaps the most damaging contribution to White society’s image of African-Americans, as there were no contrasting positive images to provide balance. Hollywood films of that time relegated Blacks to subservient characters such as butlers, maids and chauffeurs or they appeared on the screen simply to entertain as stereotypical coons and buffoons. The famous actor Willie “Sleep ‘n’ Eat” Best flapped his lips in a series of spooky Hollywood films while other established funnymen such as Eddie Anderson and Mantan Moreland also became well known for their ability to bug their eyes and shake at the knees in times of panic and fear.

Mantan Moreland

For a much broader spectrum of on-screen images and to counteract Hollywood’s representation of Blacks, films which starred Black actors and featured Black stories, known as “all-Black cast” or “race” movies, began to appear in earnest. Race films were first introduced as early as 1916 by Black filmmakers in response to the negative and racist depictions presented in The Birth of a Nation. With the increase in the production of race films, whether Black produced or otherwise, came the introduction and promotion of a variety of diverse images, presenting complex, multidimensional characters, as well as a broad range of narratives, including fright-films. Among the approximately forty movies made by pioneering filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux, at least three were silent fright-films which more loosely resemble the horror genre of today. Another Black filmmaker who contributed to the genre, was popular actor Spencer Williams, Jr. who wrote and directed a string of movies in the 1940’s that included the horror tale Son of Ingagi (1940). In all-Black cast films, each character, the good and the bad, were all representative of a complete darker hued world that actually reflected real life, but was seldom seen on the silver screen.

In the 1950s when the race film era began to die out, African-Americans were once again virtually ignored by Hollywood. The 1950s and ‘60s saw Hollywood shift its attention from menacing creatures and supernatural evils to technological calamities. The Atomic Age brought terrifying themes of how science and technology can go horribly awry when left unchecked. As Americans found laboratories, space travel and technological advances to be the stuff of nightmares, Hollywood deemed intellectual and inventive achievement out of reach for Blacks and as a result, the appearance of Black characters in horror films were virtually non-existent.

Ben - Night of the Living DeadHowever, in 1968 Blacks returned to the genre courtesy of George Romero’s cult-classic, Night of the Living Dead, a zombie movie the likes of which had not been seen before and which has been copied thousands of times since. In addition to its’ being credited as revolutionizing the zombie subgenre in horror, at the time is was released it directly and overtly addressed America’s social problems and racial climate. To the shock and pleasant surprise of Black audiences, the film featured a complex Black male in a starring role. The character of Ben, played by Duane Jones, was not only allowed to survive through a night of terror in which the dead returned to life to eat the living, but also competently took charge of a horrific situation in a film in which the rest of the cast was composed of White actors. Although in the end, the picture did not stray from the established trend of the demise of the Black character, for the time, Ben was a rare and controversial commodity.

The 1970’s ushered in a new generation of movies which reflected racial pride and social awareness. The Blaxploitation era not only gave movie goers gritty urban street dramas like Shaft (1971) and Superfly (1972), but it also saw the birth of several Black themed interpretations of classic horror tales such as Blacula (1972), Blackenstein (1973) and Dr. Black & Mr. Hyde (1976). Horror films produced during this time frequently advanced the notion of Black empowerment through violent revolution while simultaneously presenting anti-establishment narratives. As this period of on-screen afro-enlightenment faded, the doors of mainstream horror slowly began to open.

Blacula

The next decade saw a marked decline of the Black Power-inspired film themes seen in the 1970s. In the ‘80s, Blacks were often featured as secondary characters in “buddy” or supporting relationships with Whites. Such portrayals were also found in “Blacks in horror” films. These characters often displayed a value system of loyalty that was generally disproportionate and unilateral (i.e. the Dick Hallorann character in The Shining). In addition, many films during this period moved White monsters and prey to locales often viewed as inaccessible to Blacks. These included suburban or rural settings such as Elm Street (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Haddonfield, Illinois (Halloween) and Camp Crystal Lake (Friday the 13th).

Djimon Honsou, Deep Rising

 

Lastly, this period is also considered by many as the pinnacle of Hollywood’s “kill a negro” or “kill a nigga” phase. Not only were the vast majority of Black characters in horror movies killed off, they were most often among the first to die.

 

The 1980s was a time when there were very few independent Black films being produced in the genre. But in the ‘90s things began to change dramatically with a force that had not been seen since the Blaxploitation era. Several horror films were being made by African-Americans including Def by Temptation (1990), Tales from the Crypt: Demon Night (1995), Embalmer (1996), and Beloved (1998). The 1990’s hailed the return of “Black horror” movies defined by the reintroduction and recognition of fully realized characters and themes, representing a new generation of race films. Black horror films in the 1990s also offered a reversal of racial majority/minority roles. In these films, there is often a self-consciousness in the narrative that makes it clear that the disruption and reversal of type is purposeful – part retribution, part redemption (i.e. Tales from the Hood). Films of this era additionally presented the battle of good and evil as being played out within the confines of predominantly Black, lower and/or working-class urban communities.

BonesThe new millennium saw an onslaught of “Black horror” films inspired by hip-hop culture and many featured hip-hop artists in leading roles. These films continue to present an allegiance to the ‘hood as seen in the 1990s. However in the 2000s, an explicit rationale for such a geographical focus is the historical and aesthetic credibility such places promise and are often set, to a hip-hop beat. There is an abundance of “Black horror” films during this period, some of which evidence great imagination and creativity and others great mediocrity, due to the proliferation of underground and low-budget films produced for the expanding straight-to-video market.

In the years that have followed, more and more Blacks have appeared in horror films, whether they are the first to die or not. The popular and financially lucrative horror film franchise Scary Movie introduced by the Wayans brothers has added to the broad range of the genre. The straight-to-video market has a mass of Black horror titles to choose from with varying degrees of fear, quality and production budgets. With advancing technology that makes film production more affordable to the masses and internet screening outlets such as You Tube and Video-on-Demand, many more Black people will die horrible deaths in horror films to come, but many will also triumph over evil and survive to see another day.

A Haunted House 2

See Black Cinema Databank – Black Horror Filmography for a complete listing. (Note: this listing does not include Blacks in horror titles).

This post is based on the book: Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present by Robin R. Means Coleman.  Photo Source(s):  Aveleyman.com, Zombicon, Scene Stealer, The Weekly Ansible, IGN, IMDB, Rogerebert.com, Screen Rant, Calvacade of Shock, Blackhorrormovies.com