|Rating: Loved it
Director: Frank Packard
Release Year: 1977
Starring: J. Walter Smith, Tobar Mayo, Roxie Young
Dr. Ken Kincade: Don't go! There's much to discuss.
Abar: I'll be back. Your house is about to be blown to smithereens.
When Dr. Ken Kincade and family move into a rich white neighborhood, his neighbors are thrilled. That is, until the block welcoming party (lead by a woman we'll call Queen White Bitch) discovers that he and his wife aren't a white family's butler and maid. Things turn ugly after that, but Kincade refuses his wife's request that they move. His reason? Apparently he doesn't have the time because he's the research he's conducting in his basement laboratory is "of such tremendous significance that it will one day alter the course of human history." Now that's mad scientist talk if I've ever heard it. I'll go ahead and spoil the surprise now... Kincade's working on a serum that will turn healthy black men into unstoppable supermen. Now if Kincade could only find a healthy black man...
Queen White Bitch Looks Upset
Enter John Abar... Crusader (as he likes to introduce himself). Abar's the leader of the activist group BFU, the Black Front of Unity. He initially spends a lot of time railing against all whites and the Bourgeoisie blacks who move away from the ghetto. But when the Doctor offers him a job as a personal bodyguard, Abar subtly switches gears and agrees to move in with the Kincades... though he still finds several opportunities to complain about how bad his friends in the ghetto have it.
The middle third of the movie is a mish-mash of odd scenes: there are several lengthy excerpts from MLK's 'I Have a Dream' speech; a scene where Kincade's brother - wearing a monster mask - tries to break into Kincade's house in the middle of the night and nearly gets jump kicked to death by Abar; and a seemingly meaningless plot point where the Queen White Bitch passes out on Kincade's front lawn, and he has to call her doctor to get her medical history. Smell that folks? That's FORESHADOWING!
This portion of the movie also has a completely non sequitur interlude where Kincade's son fantasizes that he and his family are former-slave sharecroppers who get picked on by some confederate hold-outs. Luckily for the Kincades, Abar shows up as Dead-Eye Dick, the baddest gun in the west. The WTF Line of the Night goes to Abar/Dick's self-introduction: "My friends call me Dead-Eye Dick. But my enemies call me... Smart Black Nigger." Huh?
Shortly after that sequence ends, Kincade's son gets killed when he's hit by a car. After the funeral Mrs. Kincade again begs the good Doctor to leave the house and move back to a black neighborhood. In response, Kincade deadpans my favorite line from the movie: "Please Bess... don't persecute me." I'm going to start using that when my wife asks me to do stuff: "No dear, I won't take out the trash. Don't persecute me." (FYI, that line just barely beat out my second favorite quote... when Kincade's daughter told her brother to "Shut up, you old Watutsi Wobbler."
Around the one-hour mark things start to pick up again. Kincade reveals his superhuman serum to Abar, and tries to convince him to take it. Abar refuses at first, but comes back a few minutes later and swigs a mouthful. Kincade - suddenly and inexplicably convinced that Abar is the wrong man to handle such great responsibility - freaks out: "I didn't realize he was a psychopathic!"
That's quite a lab. Build it yourself?
Abar runs off, and Kincade reveals that has three hours to kill him before the serum's effects become permanent. He runs around town looking for Abar, and soon has half the town following behind him. That whole '3 hours to kill Abar' plot device turns out to be meaningless, however, as Abar easily escapes detection and inherits an odd assortment of powers - mild levels of mind control, the ability give hookers super-strength, and the gift of transforming spaghetti into worms - each preceded by a extreme close-up of Abar's eyebrowless face.
That'll teach him for leaving the ghetto.
Gorged with his new powers, Abar heads back to Kincade's neighborhood and... does something. It looked like he made all of the white folk's houses get infested with bees, rats, snakes, and other assorted critters, but it's possible that he just induced mass-hysteria. Then, with all the offending crackers out in the street, Abar creates a mini-hurricane, and all the white people just disappear, presumably vanished to wherever it is that evil honkys are banished to. I think it's the Fourth Level of Hell, but I'm not sure. That might be where they put people who download music from teh internets.
Except for the Queen White Bitch. She's still around, and she runs up to Kincade, his family, and Abar, and apologizes for her behavior for the last 85 minutes. "I'm sorry for the way I acted. The reason I didn't want you living here is... I'm really black. I've been passing as white for years." Excuse me? Didn't see that coming. Nor did I anticipate Kincade's reponse: "I know. Your doctor told me you had sicklecellophemia."
Remember her? She's Black. Seriously
So what's the message of Abar, the First Black Superman? Given the repeated use of MLK's speech (as that final scene plays they use the 'Little Black Girls Holding Hands With Little White Girls' bit) you'd think it'd be something about race equality. But... all the white people in the movie apparently died, and the one white person who potentially redeemed herself turned out to actually be black, so... Kill Whitey? I dunno, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Let's just hope there's a long-lost Dead Eye Dick sequel somewhere out there, just waiting to be discovered. That'd rule.