Editor’s Note: If you’re one of our newer readers, welcome to The Quirky Queue, our semi-regular look at the bizarre DVD Netflix queue of writer Scott David. Scott’s lineup of the cult, the creepy, and the catastrophic is a celebration of everything odd (or just plain bad) on DVD. If you like underground movies, let Scott’s reviews be your proverbial flashlight. (NS)
2 / 5 stars
One of the great genres of American underground cinema is the blaxploitation film. Apart from the obvious camp value of its 70s styles, funky soundtracks, poor acting and amateurish filmmaking, these movies explored characters, stories and issues that no other films did. Often, this genre displayed a heart and soul that was sorely lacking in a white-dominated media.
Thankfully, Netflix has a veritable treasure trove of blaxploitation films, including many that were once difficult to find. In my ever-consuming effort to inform about cult, lost and forgotten movies, I decided to load The Quirky Queue full of blaxploitation films I have never had the pleasure of watching.
First up is Abar: Black Superman (aka Abar, The First Black Superman and In Your Face). From 1977, the film follows the tale of Dr. Kincade (J. Walter Smith) and his family, African-Americans who move to a rich white neighborhood and, of course, are treated bitterly. Whites protest, throw garbage in their yard, and make quick and regular use of racial epithets including a liberal spewing of the “n” word. (Remember, there was no political correctness in the 1970s.)
Have no fear, the family gains protection from Abar (Tobar Mayo), the leader of a local, non-violent, black civil-rights group. And while Abar is happy to help, he makes his disappointment with Dr. Kincade known at every turn, unhappy that the good doctor left the ghetto, where his skills and money are most needed. Despite all efforts, Dr. Kincade’s son is killed by one of the more violent neighborhood whites. While his wife and surviving daughter move away, Dr. Kincade stays behind to finish his superman serum. Once completed, the drug is tested on Abar, who is suddenly able to manipulate time, space, and people’s minds in an effort to improve
Although the debate between Kincade and Abar is at times interesting, the movie spends way too much time on it, feeling like a college lecture on the ethics and morals of the civil rights movement. There are numerous scenes that are completely wasteful, including an idiotic dream sequence. In fact, the whole thrust of the plot (Dr. Kincade’s serum) doesn’t appear until the last twenty minutes of the film. By then, Abar has already bored its viewers enough to render the climax moot.
While Abar is certainly not the worst of the genre (a dishonor reserved for the self-indulgent, egotistical, unintelligible films of Rudy Ray Moore), it bores more than it entertains. Recommended only to diehard fans of blaxploitation.