Slavers/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Slavers
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This off-the-beaten-path return to slave stories is both sensational and outrageous: appropriating TV’s “Roots” as well as the seventies penchant for “all-star” casts: a parade of recognizable names whose better days were behind them.

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Trevor Howard is Makenzie, an alcoholic white devil flesh merchant, Ron (TV’s “Tarzan”) Ely is Hamilton, Mackenzie’s empathetic nephew and Britt (Get Carter) Ekland is Anna, a Swedish whore. Add Ray (The Thing With Two Heads) Milland as Arab “businessman” Hassan, Ken (Black Trash) Gampu as Masulma, the righteous leader of resistance, and Cameron (The Toolbox Murders) Mitchell, and you’ve got a lot going on—all at the same time.

Set in 1884—with the cast dressed in period clothing, the story revolves around the end of the international slave trade: some still want it to continue and some have a change of heart.

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Director Jurgen Goslar does the best he can with a script that incorporates all the exploitation cinema tropes: rape, miscegenation, bloody violence (a scene in which a slave owner shoots slaves, one by one, in a lake as entertainment for his guests is particularly disturbing), torture, decapitations, animal cruelty, nudity, baby trampling and obscene language. He even adds real-life footage of African native rituals, making the film feel a little bit like a National Geographic special with Mondo film influences. The effect is dizzying: a salacious presentation of “historically relevant” sadism.

Not as entertaining as other slavesploitation films—Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971), Mandingo (1975), Passion Plantation (1976)—Slavers still holds its own as an internationally produced/cast oddity.


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Josiah Howard is the author of four books including Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide (now in a fourth printing). His writing credits include articles for the American Library of Congress, The New York Times and Readers Digest. A veteran of more than one hundred radio broadcasts, Howard also lectures on cinema and is a frequent guest on entertainment news television. Visit his Official Website.

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