Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Black Gestapo (Lee Frost, 1975)

Quite possibly the weirdest blaxploitation of all time, The Black Gestapo features Night Court's "Mac" (Charles Robinson) as the second-in-command of a government funded para-military group, The People's Army, who breaks off to form his own army, with less than altruistic intentions.

The People's Army is supposed to help keep mobsters out of Watts, but the mobsters start leaning hard on business owners and criminal elements. The more militant elements of The People's Army start to lean back, led by Colonel Kojah (Robinson) despite the wishes of their leader, General Ahmed (Rod Perry, S.W.A.T., The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman). Once the splinter group has eliminated the white run mob, they begin to take over their business, running the gambling, prostitution and narcotics in the area, as well as waging war on their old leaders.

It is an interesting story of people being corrupted by power, and typical of revolutionary groups that deny their spoken intent and become what the purported to hate. It happened in the French Revolution with the Reign of Terror, with the Bolshevik Revolution with Stalinism, and as here with the growth of the National Socialists under Hitler who eliminated his rivals to concentrate his own power.

Now, Kojah does not call himself a Nazi, and arguments can certainly be made about the similarities between the Nazi's racism and the racism of the black power movement, but where this one falls in line best is with the rise of Fascism. Fascism is not of itself racially biased, but rather a totalitarian form of government that does not allow for difference of opinion. This is Kojah's main tendency, however, like most groups of this type he becomes what he hates. He becomes a drug dealer and pimp who extorts the people he claims to protect, and despite his penchant for black nationalism he has a white concubine (Uschi Digard) whom he trusts implicitly. Of course, once General Ahmed discovers what Kojah is doing he decides to fight back, particularly when they try to have him killed. He wages a one man war against the splinter group and of course arises victorious.

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