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Blaxploitation's Many Influences

So what of the post-Blaxploitation era and its influence on popular culture? It’s no accident that the demise of Blaxploitation coincided with the birth of hip-hop culture.  Early b-boys adopted the swagger and attitude of Blaxploitation while adapting its message of black consciousness to fit their needs. Their speech, music and sartorial sense was later packaged and commodified by the same corporate oligarchy that sold their brothers’ steez just 20 years earlier.

Blaxfilmfan 14,595 09/16/2017 - 06:59
Read: Henry Williamson’s Hustler! (1965)

Not much is said about the influence of literature on the Blaxploitation film genre. Sure, there is mention of Iceberg Slim (Pimp and Trick Baby are required reading, in my opinion) and Donald Goines (who was somewhat contemporaneous with the Blaxploitation genre) but little is written about the autobiographical works that preceded it. These popular books began to prove that there was a viable (read: profitable) audience for a realistic portrayal of Black life.

Blaxfilmfan 14,566 09/18/2017 - 08:11

I’ve never thought of Mr. Billy Dee Williams as a particularly shrewd actor. Sure, I’ve enjoyed many of his film roles and, in particular, the suave P.I.M.P. he portrayed in those Colt 45 commercials of my impressionable youth. But I discovered that following his big break in the acclaimed television biopic Brian’s Song (1971), he dipped his toe in the sometimes tepid pool that was Blaxploitation.

Blaxfilmfan 14,345 09/28/2017 - 06:47
Guilty pleasure: Black Shampoo (1976)

In the fine tradition of commercial (read: white) films “re-contextualized” for Black audiences (Abby aka The Blaxorcist (1974), Blackenstein (1973), and Blacula (1972) just to name a few), comes a late entry in the game, Black Shampoo (1976). Loosely based on Hal Ashby’s Shampoo (1975), a Warren Beatty vehicle about the undoing of a libidinous hairdresser, Black Shampoo is a trashy, outrageous masterpiece.

Blaxfilmfan 14,251 09/30/2017 - 02:30
Hidden Gem: Aaron Loves Angela (1975)

One simple statement can be definitively made about this film: it is one of the best teen oriented films of the Blaxploitation genre. Take into account that it was made after the “golden years” of the era (1969- 1974) and was the last film directed by Gordon Parks Jr. (Superfly, Three the Hard Way) and it becomes even more astounding.

Blaxfilmfan 14,577 09/30/2017 - 02:38
Collectable: Sugar Hill (1974) 8x10 black and white still

Once synonymous with a film’s ad campaign, black and white 8x10 stills gave moviegoers a glimpse of the world they were about to enter once the house lights dimmed. Usually produced in sets of 8, these glossy prints were displayed by the theater’s entrance and reproduced the most exciting scenes from the film, in the days when single screen theaters ruled and ornate movie houses dominated the cinematic landscape.

Blaxfilmfan 14,602 10/01/2017 - 09:29
Collect: JD’s Revenge (1976) lobby card

Written by African American screenwriter Jaison Starkes, JD’s Revenge is a perfect example of later period Blaxploitation where style wins over substance. The two male leads, Aretha Franklin’s ex Glynn Turman and future Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., are clearly wasted in this tired tale of the occult and reincarnation but the film still remains noteworthy.

Blaxfilmfan 14,559 10/17/2017 - 08:25
Hidden Gem: Honky (1971)

This little film that could is notable for a few reasons besides its sensational and somewhat misleading title. Initially, what made me rescue it from the dustbin was its beautiful VHS clamshell case. As a collector of Blaxploitation ephemera, I knew I had to cop this. Oversized and a perfect fit on my bookshelf, the font on its spine screamed sexy 70s trash. Aesthetically, the clamshell’s cover art accurately reproduces the original poster art, which was, in fact, a rarity in VHS case/sleeve design.

Blaxfilmfan 14,457 10/17/2017 - 08:33