Friday, March 19, 2010

J.D.’s Revenge (1976)

“He came back from the dead to possess a man's soul, make love to his woman, and get the Vengeance he craved!”
Starring Glynn Turman, Louis Gossett, Jr., Joan Pringle, Carl W. Crudup and James Watkins
Directed by Arthur Marks
Written by Jaison Starkes
Music by Prince (also provides vocal for “ Will Never Let You Go")
From MGM

One of the more interesting and well done blaxploitation horror flicks of the 1970s, J.D.’s Revenge is a possession and revenge flick seen through the prism of 1970s New Orleans.

The plot revolves around Isaac a/k/a Ike (Glynn Turman who gives a rather nice performance), a law school student in New Orleans. He is convinced by girlfriend (Joan Pringle) to take a study break and head out for a night on the town. Well, of course things go terribly wrong. Otherwise, this would be a pretty boring horror flick, right?

At one stop of their night out, the couple heads into a nightclub where a hypnotist is performing. Wouldn’t you know that Isaac is one of the poor saps selected from the audience to come up on stage to be hypnotized into doing random embarrassing things, such as removing their clothes and whatnot. However, while many in the audience believe this all to be schtick and simply an act, something very real and very terrible happens. Cue the scary music, kids!

The wandering, vengeance-seeking spirit of J.D. Walker (James Watkins), a street hustler who was murdered in the 1940s, takes possession of Isaac. Back in the day, both J.D. and his sister Betty Jo were murdered in a really complicated back-story involving one Elijah Bliss (Lou Gossett Jr., here billed as “Louis”) in which J.D. was wrongly accused of killing his sister. Ever since their murders, J.D.’s restless spirit haunted the Big Easy, waiting for his chance to get revenge.

Slowly, J.D. takes control of his new host body, and it is apparent there is something wrong with Isaac. The formerly kind, mild-mannered student begins taking on new and strange characteristics, hairstyle and clothing choices. His behavior also becomes increasingly violent and cruel, as his girlfriend unfortunately discovers. J.D. is now large and in charge and will stop at nothing to satiate his vulgar appetites as he calculates his revenge on his killer.

Along the way there are typical 70s lingo, fashions, music and other fun, but be warned there is explicit violence and sex as well. Well, the good news is that everything works out just fine in the end. Finally, preacher Elijah confronts J.D. and finally manages to save Isaac while forcing J.D. back to the netherworld.

Overall, it is a solid little horror flick, moves at a fast clip, and full of solid performances. It’s well known I’m a complete blaxploitation sucker (sucka?), so I really dig this flick. I think you will also be pleasantly surprised by this not all that well known film. Definitely check it out sometime!

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