New World Pictures
Directed by William Witney
Produced by Gene Corman
Written by George Armitage
“In fact, if you look from today’s perspective at 1970’s exploitation movies, they look like they were made on another planet. The basic elements in these movies are things you couldn’t put in movies today”
This is a quote I feel I should put in front of every review I write of movies made in the 1970s and 1980s because I when I review a movie like DARKTOWN STRUTTERS I always get emails asking me why do I review such a horribly made, racist, sexist and downright awful movie?
My response is that I review movies like DARKTOWN STRUTTERS because I delight that I grew up in a world where horribly made, racist, sexist and downright awful movies could and were made. Now, don’t get me twisted…I am in no way saying that DARKTOWN STRUTTERS is a good movie. It isn’t. But it is a whole lotta goofy fun and it’s a movie like“The Apple” “Miami Connection” and “Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki” in that it is so spectacularly bad that it arrives at a genius level of badness that makes you appreciate it because it is so bad.
This is a movie where the bad guy has a Southern plantation in the middle of Los Angeles complete with willing slaves who proclaim they like being slaves. The bad guy looks and dresses like Colonel Sanders and funds his world-conquering plan to replace prominent black leaders with clones by means of his fried chicken and BBQ fast food franchise he owns and operates in African-American neighborhoods. He also has the R&B group The Dramatics locked up in his basement presumably because he wants them there to sing “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” On Demand. It’s the kind of movie where the bad guy has Syreena cornered in his lair and attempts to sway her to his point of view by having a minstrel show with the participants singing one of the best versions of “Old Black Joe” I’ve ever laughed myself into a hernia to. It’s the kind of movie where Syreena and her biker gang are sitting on their bikes in a park and a street gang comes along singing an Accapella version of The Mad Lads “Don’t Have To Shop Around” and you don’t question it because you’ve seen so much craziness up to this point so why not?
But I will always recommend you watch DARKTOWN STRUTTERS for no other reason than to see Trina Parks in action. In a better world than the one we now share Trina Parks would have been a major movie star. She has the energy, the talent, the style and the looks. In this movie she’s described as long and leggy and she is all that and a dozen different kinds of sexy. She’s best known as “Bambi” in the James Bond movie “Diamonds Are Forever” which also happens to be my favorite Sean Connery James Bond movie. And she owns this movie from start to finish.
It’s worth seeing her in DARKTOWN STRUTTERS simply for the fact that she has so much fun in what she’s doing. She’s Syreena, the leader of a girl biker gang who comes to L.A. to find her mother that has gone missing. And in the process, she runs into a whole of weird characters played by actors who would go onto more prestigious and notable work such as Roger E. Mosley, Stan Shaw and DeWayne Jesse.
I will always recommend you see DARKTOWN STRUTTERS for three reasons:
1: Trina Parks
2:It is an absolute batshit insane movie that’s a whole lotta fun if you approach it in the right way
3: It is what I consider an essential movie in your study of Blaxploitation if you do indeed consider yourself a serious student of the genre.