NIGGER LOVER (a.k.a. The Bad Bunch,Tom, The Brothers) 1973 director: Greydon Clark; starring: Greydon Clark, Tom Johnigarn, Aldo Ray, Jock Mahoney
More than twenty years had passed since I watched director Greydon Clark’s NIGGER LOVER, and written my scathing review. This was one of the earliest reviews I wrote, and I was culling through my older work to create this archive of blaxploitation films, I thought to myself, “Maybe you should watch the movie again. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as you remember.” So…I watched it. And it was as bad as I remembered. Maybe worse.
The directorial debut of a man whose filmmaking skills could be called amusingly remedial, this is bargain basement exploitation at its most craptacular. To his credit, Clark did become a better director, but that doesn’t stop this piece of shit from being…well…a piece of shit. We are talking about the same director who would go on to make BLACK SHAMPOO, which is a really bad film, until you compare it to NIGGER LOVER, and suddenly it seems like the work of cinematic genius. But this is about NIGGER LOVER, not BLACK SHAMPOO, so let’s get down what needs getting down to.
Clark stars as Jim, a Vietnam veteran, whose best friend was killed in the war. Problems arise when Jim goes to deliver a letter to his friend’s father. Did I mention the Jim’s dead friend was black? This is a crucial plot point, because it means our hero must venture into the ghetto to deliver the message to dear old dad. Unfortunately, his dead friend’s brother, Tom – who now goes by the Makimba, because “Tom was my slave name,” has a honky-hating chip on his shoulder, and decides he needs to kill this no good whitey. There’s a bit more to Makimba’s decision to kill Jim – he thinks the evil cracker is working for a pair of racist cops (Aldo Ray and Jock Mahoney), who take pleasure in beating up on righteous soul brothers. Makimba (Tom Johnigarn) also blames the death of his father on Jim, even though Makimba killed the old man with his own hands. But, you see, Makimba is blinded by hate, which is what Clark is really trying to explore as a filmmaker. The problem, of course, is that not only is the message lost amidst all the exploitation trappings of sex and violence, it is also lost in the mire of an abysmal script that is as racist as it is poorly written – which is to say that it is really racist, because it is also really poorly written. There’s actually a bit more to the film – something to do with Jim’s inability to commit to his girlfriend, while screwing some dope-smoking hippie chick on the side – but that’s as poorly crafted as the rest of this shit.
Released under multiple titles, there’s no getting around the fact that this film is bad on just about every level you can imagine. Everything from the writing to the direction to the acting is just plain awful. Clark tries trick you, with enough sex and nudity to keep you from noticing how bad this movie is, but honestly, there’s not enough nudity to make this film any good. Every single scene could have nudity, and you’d still be distracted by the ineptitude with which this shit has been cobbled together. The ad campaign for this garbage reads, “The movie they tried to stop!” Like that’s something they should’ve been braggin’ about.
Of NIGGER LOVER I can say this…I looooves the opening song, written by Sheldon Lee.
“Hey honky mother, where you go?/Who you lookin’ for
We don’t want your kind ‘round here/ Knockin’ at our door
Honky mother, no soul brother/ Don’t waste your helpin’ hand
Honky mother, nigger lover/ Ripped off by the man
Don’t be askin’ questions/ This street’s a dead end
One way or another, you’re a dead honky mother/ Just like your nigger friend
Hey honky mother, jive sucker/ Black and white don’t mix
Honky mother, nigger lover/ Good deeds just for kicks”