Monday, January 18, 2016

"The Human Tornado"(1976)d /Cliff Roquemore

In the year of the American bicentennial with films like Taxi Driver, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Carrie, and Rocky all going knuckles up at the box-office, moviegoers had some tough choices to make. Or, they could have just checked out the movie with a one-sheet that boasts of fifties R n' B singer Rudy Ray Moore in patchwork pimp gear, twister-punching his way through a whirlwind o' white folks, and been done with it. Knowing cult audiences were instantly enamored with Moore's legendary signature rhyme-spouting, lady-pleasing, shotgun-blasting, karate-kicking, ferocious, mackadocious antidote to no business, born insecure, junkyard rat soup-eating motherfuckers, Rudy rolls him out for a righteously raucous round two, with many of the usual suspects, i.e. Lady Reed, Jimmy Lynch, Howard Jackson, and even Lord Java himself. If you're going in looking for a blaxploitative good time machine ride back to the funky seventies, you've come to the right place, I'd wager. Let's make it, fellas...

I think this one speaks for itself. High water mark in the series.
After what can be called one of the most memorable title sequences ever filmed (I've yet to ever see anything like it, many of you who've seen it will agree), we catch up with that bad motherfucker Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) as he's putting his weight on the sheriff's wife, just as the sheriff (J.B. Baron) and his deputy are raiding the joint for an arrest. This leads to some harsh words, one "Biiiiiiitch! Are you fo' REAAAAAAAL?",  a firefight, some dead bodies, and Dolemite rolling his bare ass down a hill in slow motion to the getaway car. Twice. He then blows up the pursuing police with a twelve gauge blast (of course, he dramatically raps as he joins the rank of cinematic cop killers) , forcing him to go on the lam, hijacking a gay dude's car to California(...where they are already, as anyone can clearly see), where one of his people, Queen Bee (Lady Reed) herself, wears outfits that make Mummers look understated and runs a nightclub where he promptly lays down some dozens-style insult comedy in a kaleidoscope of crazy-looking seventies gear on stage, and several kung fu hookers that pledge allegiance to Dolemite work out of. Only problem, a mobster named Cavaletti has designs on the Queen's action, shutting down her club, and even taking two of her girls hostage. Only one isn't technically a girl. Are you surprised by that at this point? Me, neither.

"Mules didn't bruise mah hide cuz I done doubled my size on Fatburgahs an' fries, can you dig it?"
When he's not enjoying post-coital watermelon(!!!) with old flame Hurricane Annie, he's buying new shoes and searching for clues to the performers' whereabouts, as detective/ sped up kung fu bad ass as he is pimp. Adding to the madness, is Cavaletti's old mother, who's a dungeon-dwelling, woman-torturing creep, and his middle-aged wife, who's a nymphomaniac with some heavy hangers and a serious case of jungle fever, can you dig it? Dolemite interrogates the bitch, and by "interrogates" I obviously mean, puts it on her so hard that the fucking ceiling collapses and the bedroom is totally destroyed by their lovemaking session (like a human tornado, this bad cat), which, in the end,  yields the very answers he was looking for. This leads to a full-on, sped up kung fu battle royale at the private party at Cavaletti's mansion, which looks more than a little like Dolemite's pad from the initial reel, but who's paying that much attention, baby? Howard Jackson is in attendance, both as himself and as Dolemite's obvious stunt double, for those kicks higher than knee level and punch combinations faster than your average slow jam. You'll have to see how it all wraps up for yourselves, though. See it!

"Ooooo-eeeee!This Stylistics record got my Skene's glands secretin' like a mufucka!"
Moore followed this one up with The Monkey Hu$tle, opposite the venerable Yaphet Kotto,  the same year. 1977 brought us Petey Wheatstraw, while '79 saw more than Willie Stargell publicly boogie-ing to Sister Sledge, also bringing the premiere of Moore's legendary Disco Godfather. Despite a myriad of glaring technical shortcomings much like its predecessor a year earlier, this sequel chooses to play up its obvious limitations for even more laughs, and if a blaxploitation flick is to be judged on the outrageously dated seventies gear, shuckin' and jivin', cartoonish dialog, wooden performances, across-the-board racial stereotypes, high rise afros, low rent martial arts, etc., found within it,  then we might just have the Citizen Kane of pimp flicks on our hands tonight, after all. On the scale, Tornaaaaaaada earns thee Wops the easy way, on the ornately decorated mackin' cape of the late, great Rudy Ray. Can you dig it?


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