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J.D.'s Revenge/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< J.D.'s Revenge

New Orleans, 1942. Hoodlum, J.D. Walker (David McKnight) does some eavesdropping at a slaughterhouse to see that his sister, Betty Jo (Alice Jubert) is in an argument with Theotis Bliss (Fred Pinkard). It appears that Betty Jo has a "baby mama" secret that Theotis' brother, Elija (Louis Gossett Jr) shouldn't want to know about. Not willing to keep quiet about the secret, Theotis ends the discussion by slashing Betty Jo's throat with a razor. J.D. arrives to find the dead body of his sister, but in an instant, he's framed for being the "MURDERER!" and is gunned down in a hail of bullets.

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New Orleans, 1976. Isiah "Ike" Hendricks (Glynn Turman), a cab driver/law student, decides to take a break from his law studies to go out on the town with his girlfriend, Christella (Joan Pringle) along with their two friends. Out of fun, Ike participates in a hypnotist show. But while under hypnosis, something interesting happens to Ike. Images of a murder occuring in a slaughterhouse begins to appear in his mind. The hypnotist returns Ike back to reality in what could only be described as a strange hallucination. Soon after, Ike begins experiencing terrible headaches and more hallucinations, including seeing the image of someone else when gazing into a mirror! The face looks familiar. It's none other than J.D. Walker! Slowly and slowly, the damned soul of J.D. begins to take control of Ike. Causing Ike to go into moments of shockingly violent rage against Christella and even a poor, elderly taxi passenger. But the final step into fully evolving 100% into J.D. Walker (meaning that when Ike decks himself out in a 1940's era zoot suit) occurs when Ike hears a familiar voice of a minister appearing on the radio doing a sermon. It's Elija Bliss, now a popular minister/evangelist, and the vague flashback-hallucinations from the slaughterhouse indicate that Elija is the one who pulled the trigger on J.D., but did he really do it? The truth will soon be unveiled after J.D.'s Revenge is complete so his soul can rest in eternal peace.

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The principles involved with the making of the film weren't satisfied with the results. Glynn Turman has gone on record saying that he disliked it. Feeling that the movie derived too much away from the original concept of one's serious struggle with a split personality (certainly the well-acted chemisty between Turman and Joan Pringle show that they weren't acting like they were in a horror/supernatural movie) and director Arthur Marks was displeased of AIP's handling of the advertising campaign. Causing Turman to not participate in the promotion. But you know how the saying goes, "One man’s trash is another man’s treasure". So while the filmmakers could dismiss this movie as trash, I sure as hell consider it a treasure because J.D.'s Revenge is one of my most favorite movies. Not just a 1970's favorite, but an all-time favorite. I do grasp the dramatic intensity that remains in the film and I grasp the over-the-top elements (i.e. the supernatural sections). Even if it may or may not have been originally intended, it all manages to become a perfect blend, in my opinion. The only few faults that I have with the movie is that (future Oscar winner) Lou Gosset looks too young to be playing a character who's presumably supposed to be in his 50's. Also, the final scene seems a bit like a tacked-on alternate ending. It comes off as if Ike couldn't believe that he was possessed by an evil spirit, but too bad nobody tells him to look at the mirror to see what kind of an outfit he's wearing and what he did to his hair! It's charming examples like that proves that this movie nearly has it all. From J.D. Walker's one-liners (complete with serious acting and hammy acting) to Arthur Marks' stylish and stark direction, it's a fine, eye-catching piece of work from start to finish.

Reviewed by Laydback

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