16th Apr2015

‘Supersoul Brother’ Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

a.k.a The Six Thousand Dollar Nigger
1978, dir: Rene Martinez

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The film opens up in the laboratory of pint-sized Dr. Dippy, played by Peter Conrad (Porky’s), where we find himself and his attractive laboratory technician are working on a serum to give people superhuman strength. Unfortunately, those who use it will die within a few days.  Bob and Jim, the thugs funding the project played by Benny Latimore (Soul Train) and Lee Cross (Guns of the Timberland), are growing impatient with Dippy’s slow progress of creating a neutraliser for the potent serum and decide to take matters in to their own hands by finding a wino to inject with the serum so they can rob a safe from a local jewellery store. Luckily for them, a local wino by the name of Steve, played by Wildman Steve (Petey Wheatstraw), fits the bill perfectly! He is scooped off the street and after being buttered up with a fancy pad, some prime booty, food and of course a shower, is injected with the serum. Seems Bob’s and Jim’s investment (yes, all $6,000 worth) pays off as the effects are instant. After shocking his ‘employers’ and some of his fellow bums with his newfound strength, it’s showtime! Dr.Dippy and his lover offer the clumsiest diversion in the jewellery store as Steve goes out back and steals the safe. After driving to a remote location Bob and Steve open the cardboard box, I mean safe! Once the safe is dealt with Steve is double-crossed… not before THE WHOLE STORY and Steve’s fate is revealed! Being pretty much bullet proof, Steve uses his strength to overcome Bob and hide the jewels. The search begins to find the neutraliser before the deadly serum kills him.  Will Steve succeed? Will the police or thugs catch up with him? What will happen to the jewels? Get off your honkey ass and find out for yourself!

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What a gem of a film this is! OK, in conventional terms, this film is awful. Shoddy camerawork, terrible acting and some really questionable editing that will make fans of von Trier’s ‘emotional editing’ have nightmares! This is a cheap movie and it shows. That being said, why else would you be watching this!? Fans of bad, schlocky exploitation are going to love this. If you want an absurd story that defies logic (actually, I don’t think there’s really any attempt to explain the science), you’re going to love this. You know you are in for a good ride when  you find out a dwarf scientific genius has created a deadly super strength serum within the budget of $6,000! Where are those scientific minds nowadays!? Of course, the star of the show is Wildman Steve. He steals the audience’s attention from everyone else when he is on screen. It’s clear that he has a comedy background because some of his dialogue and reactions (which I get the feeling were largely ad-libbed) are genuinely priceless. As a comedy, this film works perfectly. Overall, there is never a dull moment. You could watch this film multiple times and find small intricacies or artistic downfalls that will make you chuckle. I found myself laughing both intentionally and unintentionally a lot.

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In terms of restoration and presentation, Vinegar Syndrome have done a great job with the elements available to them. There is a hell of a lot clear print damage throughout, but considering that this a very low budget film in the first place, it’s hardly surprising that we wouldn’t get a completely restored and sparkly finished product. In all honesty (and you can shoot me now if you want) I think it genuinely adds to what is an already charming experience. In terms of sound, it isn’t perfect either, but Saxton Kari’s funky score sounds down and dirty so it works regardless! Vinegar Syndrome should genuinely be commended for their job on this one, I very much doubt that anyone else could have done a better job. There are unfortunately no special features on disc, but as with most of the rare gems released by the label over the years, the fact that this film is now on disc and restored for the world to see is a wonderful thing. This release is done in collaboration with the American Genre Film Archive and man I cannot wait to see what other gems we will be seeing over the next few years. Overall, if you love cheap blaxploitation or schlocky cult cinema, you need to pick this release up. You’re going to find yourself dumbstruck at times and eventually quoting some of the insanely brilliant dialogue. Even the artwork of the release is reason in itself to add this to your collection.

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Supersoul Brother is available on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.

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