Stars: Pam Grier, Margaret Markov, Sid Haig, Lynn Borden, Zaldy Zshornack, Laurie Burton, Eddie Garcia, Alona Alegre, Dindo Fernando | Written by H.R. Christian | Directed by Eddie Romero
It’s obvious with a title like Black Mama, White Mama you know the type of film you are going to be getting…. A prison women exploitation flick, its known for Pam Grier, Margaret Markov and Sid Haig and fits into the “Grindhouse” style quite well. Arrow Video have brought the film to Blu-ray in the UK and as usual provides plenty of special features; but is it worth your time?
When Lee (Grier), a tough prostitute and Karen (Markov) a revolutionary are sent to a tough women’s prison they immediately clash with a hatred of each other. When they are packed off to a maximum security prison they are chained together, but soon find themselves on the run during an ambush of their transport. With corrupt cops, bounty hunters and a sadistic Drug Lord on their trail can they survive?
Black Mama, White Mama is one of the better exploitation movies and for fans of cult movies, part of the appeal is that it stars Grier, Markov and Haig. While there is a focus on the women joining together and the fact that one is black and one is white, thankfully not too much focus is actually put on the colour of their skin. This is much more about the bond between the two.
What I will say about Black Mama,White Mama is that it is a film of its time. There is plenty of nudity, and other than the main actors the women on-screen are used mostly as sex objects. Some of the acting isn’t great, and if you pull the film apart it is a basic female version of The Defiant Ones. What saves it though is the performance of the two women… and Sid Haig of course!
The fact that Haig plays a redneck character who spends most of the time running around in a cowboy costume is amusing. His performance though is a highlight of the film, and even though he is meant to be an evil menacing figure you can’t help but like his anti-hero type character. That isn’t to say that he doesn’t do some things that will be frowned upon though.
Arrow have included interviews with Margaret Markov and Sid Haig which were filmed especially by Arrow Video. Not only looking at Black Mama, White Mama they talk about their careers and cover most of the Grindhouse films they’ve appeared in. Haig gives good insight into working in the Philippines where the movie was filmed and the conditions they worked in. He also reveals some stories about him and Pam Grier which are interesting to listen to.
As usual a commentary track is included, this time by Andrew Leavold the director of The Search for Weng Weng. He provides a good history of director Eddie Romero and reveals plenty of detail about the making of the film.
I’d argue that Black Mama, White Mama is a release for those who enjoy exploitation films, especially those starring Pam Grier and Sid Haig. This isn’t the best, but it is also far, FAR, from the worst available on the high street today; and it makes for a fairly good introduction to the sub-genre. Arrow Video have treated this cult film well, and for fans of film history there is plenty to delve into here, making it well worth buying.
Black Mama, White Mama is out now from Arrow Video.