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APRIL 8 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLACK SHAMPOO
From shockingimages.com

It is a common practice for filmmakers working on the fringe of cinema to often imitate successful mainstream hits. Though the trend continues today, in the 1970's it was the prevailing trend for adult films, exploitation, and blaxploitation films to be subtle copies of popular films, often with some notable changes to better fit into the specific tastes of their target audiences. These films often liberally took from the titles of the films they copied, so their audience would know which Hollywood blockbuster the film was in the style of. In 1975, Warren Beatty scored big as a sex-crazed hairdresser in SHAMPOO. In 1976, director Greydon Clark responded with BLACK SHAMPOO.

Mr. Jonathan runs a successful hair salon in Los Angeles. Mr. Jonathan's clients are getting more than just a trim though, as Jonathan is bedding some of the richest and most powerful in town. All of that changes, however, when, his assistant, Brenda's past begins to come back to haunt them all. Brenda's job prior to working in the salon was as the girlfriend of a powerful mob boss. He doesn't seem to be too keen to let Brenda go as easily as she would like and he sends his boys around to rough up Mr. Jonathan's employees and destroy his shop. Mr. Jonathan isn't going to just take this lying down, and he sets out to take down the boss, motivated by his desire for revenge and his love for Brenda.

BLACK SHAMPOO is a very good example of blaxploitation filmmaking of the period. Obviously made more adeptly and with a larger budget than most blaxploitation films, the film has a very polished look to it, no different than mainstream features of the time. Director Clark sets up his scenes well and the entire cast appears to be a cut above the standard talent in these films. Mr. Jonathan's sexual adventures are dropped from the plotline fairly early, so the film is primarily dedicated to action and the relationship between Jonathan and Brenda.

BLACK SHAMPOO is a fun film and a pretty entertaining look into 70's culture. Some aspects of the film appears to be more dated than others, especially the exaggerated homosexual stereotypes that work in Mr. Jonathan's salon. While not the caliber of a SHAFT or DOLOMITE, BLACK SHAMPOO is still a must for blaxploitation fans.


APRIL 8 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BEYOND DARKNESS (1990)

As Father George (David Brandon) is giving last rites to female mass murderer Bette (she killed many children and claims to have eaten their souls), she gives the Father her satanic bible just before she is executed in the electric chair. After she is dead, Father George sees the spirits of all the children she has killed, ready to follow her to Hell. The film then turns into a bastardization of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, as Father Peter (Gene Le Brock), his wife Anne (Barbara Bingham) and young kids Martin (Michael Stephenson) and Carole (Teresa F. Walker) move into an old house where a lot of strange stuff is going on. There's a hole in the wall of Carole's bedroom that emits a bright light only when she's around. It gives her nightmares of being trapped in a coffin and, one night, the light burns her face. Peter's bible also flies into a puddle, there's a statue of a black swan that rocks by itself and an old radio plays satanic chants, even though it's not plugged in. The family also must contend with flying plates and silverware, some mysterious entities cloaked in black and a head that tries to break through the hole in the wall. Peter performs an impromptu exorcism, which quiets things down for a little while. Peter goes to his superior, Reverend Jonathan (Stephen Brown), who tells Peter he knows about the house's history (the bastard!) and he should work with Father George, not knowing that Father George is now an alcoholic who sees visions of the dead children being led around by Bette. Carole comes down with a mysterious fever and then it disappears ("The bad people gave it to me!"). When the spectre of Bette comes to the house and takes Martin, Father George appears ("Your son is in an infernal limbo!") and announces that the house is a gateway to another dimension. They break down the wall with the hole in it and rescue Martin, or at least they think they do. George must regain his faith and perform an exorcism, not only to free Martin of his possession, but to cleanse the house of evil spirits. He fails miserably. Can Peter pick up the slack and save his son?  Directed and co-written by Claudio Fragasso (MONSTER DOG - 1984; TROLL 2 - 1990), using his "Clyde Anderson" pseudonym, BEYOND DARKNESS (originally made as LA CASA 5) is nothing but a series of shock cuts and scenes lifted from other films. You'll see references to AMITYVILLE, THE EXORCIST (1973), POLTERGEIST (1982), A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) and even PHANTASM (1979) tossed around in no particular order, none of it making a lick of sense. Since this is an Italian production (filmed in Louisiana with English speaking actors), you'll hear some risable dialogue ("I love beans!" "But then you make stinkies!"), violence against children and some weird camera angles (the rocking swan cam). While there are many violent situations, I was taken aback by the total lack of blood or gore. Most of it is just burn makeup, possession effects, ghostly apparitions or flying objects. None of it is the least bit scary or effective, which could be the reason why this was one of the last Italian haunted house films. It was fun while it lasted, but this one is no HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY or THE BEYOND. Hell, it's no GHOSTHOUSE, either. It was time to move on. Also starring Mary Coulson as Bette. An Imperial Entertainment Corp. Release. Rated R.

{ text from critcononline.com }

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