BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Black Mama, White Mama (1973) - Blu-ray Review

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Black Mama, White Mama - Blu-ray Review

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3 beersThere is a reason that Quentin Tarantino and Neveldine/Taylor consistently make Black Mama, White Mama more than just a reference point in their filmography.  The balance struck between humor and socio-political commentary is a steady one and continues to fuel this jungle flick into new territory for this its blu-ray debut by Arrow Video.

Pam Grier might have made a career of “sticking it to the man” since her debut in 1970 (with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) but, a mere three years later, in Black Mama, White Mama she just wants to collect her money and get the hell out of dodge.  Who can blame her?!  The racial tension is palpable and correcting a constant wrong is tiring work.  This time, though, she finds herself chained to a white revolutionary whose thirst to bring about change is matched only by Grier’s desire to get the fuck out of town.   

And look no further than the opening scene to see where this one is headed.  It is tension filled as a bus full of angry women – from different cultures – enters a prison somewhere on an unnamed island.

Okay, okay so Black Mama, White Mama is simply The Defiant Ones with chicks in chains instead of dudes.  Mirrored after Roger Corman’s work, the film is the very definition of trash cinema and it absolutely works because of how it weaves several different storylines together into a single narrative thread.  Even Sid Haig gets in on the fun as Ruben a horseless cowboy who doubles as a pimp, a drug dealer, and an all around badass commanding his part of the island with gusto and flashy outfits.

Eddie Romano’s film might be considered a “Women in Prison” exploitation flick and while there is a prison and there are women in it who like to shower and fondle each other, Black Mama, White Mama is really an “on the run” story of feminist unease as the two chained women – Lee Daniels (Grier) and Karen Brent (Margaret Markov) – flee a women’s prison and have to outsmart and outrun a whole bunch of stupid men with guns. 

Co-starring Eddie Garcia, Vic Diaz and Lynn Borden as a sadistic guard/matron who peeps in on the women while they shower, Black Mama, White Mama might be a lesser-known skin flick of the exploitation era but it is often more engaging than it has any right being and, with some serious revolutionary bones as its skeleton, comes together in a neat and unforgettable package.  I mean, Grier and Markov escaping in nun costumes?  Sure, I’ll bite. 

And while Grier is the keynote star in the feature, this one is really a scene-stealer for Haig who literally shines in his fancy blue cowboy outfit, shooting the peckers off of lesser men.   There is so much fun to be had in the film that it’s downright criminal to ignore it and be completely dismissive of what it achieves.  While minor, this is pure B-movie exploitation heaven with a message.

 

Black Mama, White Mama - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
87 mins
Director
: Eddie Romero
Writer:
H.R. Christian
Cast:
Pam Grier, Margaret Markov, Sid Haig
Genre
: Drama | Crime
Tagline:
Chicks in Chains... on the lam from a prison hell - manacled together by hate and the strange ideas a woman gets after 1000 nights without a man.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Some jive-ass revolution don't mean shit to me!"
Distributor:
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 19, 1973
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 22, 2016
Synopsis: When two troublemaking female prisoners (one a revolutionary, the other a former harem-girl) can't seem to get along, they are chained together and extradited for safekeeping. The women, still chained together, stumble, stab, and cat-fight their way across the wilderness, igniting a bloody shootout between gangsters and a group of revolutionaries.

Black Mama, White Mama - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 22, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, the film arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group.  There is a solid contrast and even the colors appear brighter than before.  Skin tones are solid and the details the costume that Haig wears will bring a smile to your face.  While there is ZERO depth to many of the shots and some dirt specks still pop up, the film – at least here in the States – has never looked better.  There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 1.0.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Filmmaker Andrew Leavold provides the film’s commentary track.  He explains how a series of cheap “Women in Prison” movies got made in the Philippines and talks at length about the filming of this movie.  This history lesson makes for a very interesting experience, especially if you are interested in the genre.

Special Features:

Adding a bit more flair to this release are two new interviews with Margaret Markov and Sid Haig, each explaining how they got involved with the film.  There's an archival interview with director Eddie Romero, the film's theatrical trailer, and a stills gallery of 2 images rounds out the collection of supplemental material.  There is also a reversible sleeve featuring the original artwork for the movie and newly commissioned work by Sean Phillips.  The first pressing also includes a booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali and extracts from the original press book, illustrated with archive stills and posters.

  • White Mama Unchained - An interview with star Margaret Markov (14 min)
  • Sid's Filipino Adventure - An interview with star Sid Haig (16 min)
  • The Mad Director of Blood Island - A previously unseen archive interview with director Eddie Romero (15 min)
  • Trailer
  • Gallery

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