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  Black Gestapo, The Mixed Messages
Year: 1975
Director: Lee Frost
Stars: Rod Perry, Charles Robinson, Phil Hoover, Edward Cross, Angela Brent, Wes Bishop, Lee Frost, Donna Young, Charles Howerton, Rai Tasco, David Bryant, Uschi Digard
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Watts district is labouring under the yoke of oppression, and mainly that is down to the gangsters who rule over the citizens with an iron fist, extorting money out of them for protection, and even then making impossible demands for more money that cannot be reasonably met. What to do? Well, there so happens to be a group of black militants known as The People's Army led by self-styled Colonel Kojah (Charles Robinson) who are doing their level best to improve society, setting up an establishment to help drug addicts (who are supplied by the white gangsters), but when three of their number and a nurse are beaten up, it's time for no more Mr Nice Guy...

Black Gestapo! Well that sounds like an extremely sensible idea for a film, doesn't it? Nothing tasteless about that. Needless to say, the message of this film, which has African Americans taking up the mantle of the feared Nazi authority, is somewhat confused. Why it's almost as if co-writer (with actor Wes Bishop) Lee Frost thought up the idea and couldn't work out a decent story to go with it, although precisely what would be a decent story is a mystery to be solved by greater minds than mine. What essentially you get here is a "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" tale with a racial twist.

In truth, nothing reaches quite the requisite level of outrageousness as the title sequence which has footage of Adolf Hitler turning to negative to make him look black. What if Hitler was really black? It's a thuddingly stupid idea, but no more idiotic than what transpires in the rest of this film. Yet it's really a low budget gangster movie in blaxploitation clothing, and aside from a few absurdities thrown up by its premise it's actually pretty dull. At first the People's Army are an improving influence obviously patterned after the success of the Black Panthers, but then all that changes.

This is because one of their head honchos, General Ahmed (Rod Perry), the closest thing this film has to a hero, is horrified to hear his ex-girlfriend Marsha (Angela Brent) has been raped by the racists (or somehow assaulted, it's not too clear). This cements Kojah's resolve to fight back against the gangsters, and in doing so a race war erupts. I say a race war, about ten minor characters are killed off, including one bad guy who is run off the road by a car with Uschi Digard in it (she isn't behind the wheel, but she does flash at him for reasons best known to herself).

Eventually Kojah sets up his own private militia, complete with black uniforms and a monumentally ridiculous scene where the soldiers are shown giving a black power salute with 1930s Nazis chanting "Seig Heil!" dubbed over it. Yeah, we get the idea, but nobody could take it seriously and it's part of the movie's cheek that it thinks anyone could. And why is it in low budget gangster moves of the seventies the head villain spends most of his time lounging by a swimming pool accompanied by bikini-clad young ladies? Anyway, the story stumbles to some kind of climax, where the new Gestapo - who appear only to squeeze protection money out of one store, and boy is the owner pissed off - rule the roost and have to be taken down by Ahmed. Which in effect has Ahmed doing the racists' job for them by killing off a few dozen of his African American brothers. I did say this was confused. But entertaining? Not particularly. Music by Allan Alper.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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