The TSL’s Grindhouse: Disco Godfather (dir by J. Robert Wagoner)

“Put your weight on it!” Tyrone Williams (Rudy Ray Moore) shouts at the start of 1979’s Disco Godfather.  It’s a phrase that he regularly employs as he encourages everyone at the local disco to hit the dance floor and show off their moves.  All Tyrone has to do to get people to dance is to shout out his catch phrase.  He’s such a beloved figure in the community that most people just call him, “Godfather.”

The Godfather is the uncle of Bucky Williams (Julius Carry), a promising young basketball star who seems to have his entire future ahead of him.  However, what the Godfather doesn’t know is that Bucky has fallen in with the wrong crowd and they’ve been pushing him to smoke …. ANGEL DUST!  Bucky’s girlfriend tries to warn him that he’s been smoking too much of “the whack” but Bucky doesn’t heed her warning.  Suddenly, Bucky is in the middle of the dance floor, freaking out as he imagines being attacked by zombie basketball players and a sword-wielding witch.  He also sees the Disco Godfather, telling him to calm down, but suddenly the Godfather is transformed into a skeleton!

After Bucky is subdued and taken down to the local PCP recovery center (which is full of users who are all screaming, rolling around on the floor, and generally acting whacked out), the Godfather decides that he can no longer stand by while his community is victimized by the PCP dealers.  With the help of Noel (Carol Speed), the Godfather starts a group called Angels Against Dust and starts a campaign to “attack the whack!”  While the Godfather tracks down the dealers, Noel holds a rally where, at one point, she announces that everyone is going to have to come together and “whack the attack.”

The fact that this obviously flubbed line was included in the final film tells you much about what makes Disco Godfather such an interesting viewing experience.  The film was shot very quickly and with very little money and, as such, second takes were a luxury that the film couldn’t afford.  However, there’s also an undeniable charm to the film’s low-budget style.  It’s amateurish but it’s amateurish in the most likable way possible.  Even in the case of the “whack the attack” line, it’s hard not to appreciate that Carol Speed didn’t let that one flub stop her from giving the rest of her speech.  By that same token, it’s also hard not appreciate that, later in the film, a never-before-seen character suddenly helps the Godfather fight off a bunch of pushers.  This character was played by Moore’s karate instructor and his appearance is totally random and yet totally appropriate.  In the world of Disco Godfather, the chaotic plotting is the point.  The more random the film becomes, the more it suggests a universe ruled by chance and coincidence.  The total lack of logic starts to make sense.  Werner Herzog would probably love this film if he ever saw it.

Rudy Ray Moore, of course, was a famously raunchy comic who was best-known for playing Dolemite in three films.  However, Disco Godfather finds him in a bit more of a dramatic mood, as he tours the local PCP ward and tells everyone he meets that they have to “attack the whack,”  Compared to the Dolemite films, there’s considerably less sex and profanity to be found in Disco Godfather.  There are several fight scenes and Rudy Ray Moore gets to show off his karate moves but the violence is never as over the top as it was in Dolemite.  The problem, however, is that Rudy Ray Moore was a natural-born comic and, as a result, every line that he utters, regardless of how serious the topic, sounds like its building up to a punchline.  Moore gets to do some dramatic acting at the end of the film, when the Godfather is himself force fed the whack and he starts to hallucinate various disturbing images.  “That’s not right, mama!” the Godfather says at one point and indeed, the trip sequence is the strongest part of the film, a genuinely surreal trip into the subconscious of a man who just wanted to encourage people to dance.

Disco Godfather is one of those films that you just have to see.  When Disco Godfather isn’t learning about PCP, he’s telling everyone to “put your weight on it” and, as a result, this film not only features a lot of anti-drug hysteria but it also features a lot of dancing.  This is very much a film of its time.  In one the film’s few deliberately funny moments, the album cover for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack is seen covered in cocaine.  Of course, the Disco Godfather doesn’t need cocaine to have a good time and he certainly doesn’t need the whack.  He just needs the music and people willing to put their weight on it.

Disco Godfather was not a box office success when it was originally released, with Moore later saying that he made a mistake by toning down his persona for the film.  Moore was probably correct but, seen today, Disco Godfather is an enchantingly berserk time capsule.  Watch it and then be sure to watch Eddie Murphy play Rudy Ray Moore in the Netflix biopic, Dolemite Is My Name.

Live Tweet Alert: Join #FridayNightFlix for Disco Godfather!

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, at 10 pm et, I will be hosting #FridayNightFlix!  The movie? 1979’s Disco Godfather!

“Put your weight on it!”  Watch as the legendary Rudy Ray Moore battles PCP dealers!  The beat never stops and neither do the beatings!

If you want to join us this Friday, just hop onto twitter, start the movie at 10 pm et, and use the #FridayNightFlix hashtag!  I’ll be there tweeting and I imagine some other members of the TSL Crew will be there as well.  It’s a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.

Disco Godfather is available on Prime, Tubi, Pluto, and almost every other streaming service!  See you there!

A Scene That I Love: In Memory of Rudy Ray Moore, The Fight Scene From Dolemite

93 years ago, on this date in 1917, Rudy Ray Moore was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  From humble beginnings, Moore would grow up to become a comedian who inspires a cult-like following to this day.  Imagine Redd Foxx with even bluer material but less personal animus against the world and you might have some idea of the type of material that made Rudy Ray Moore famous.

Moore was not just a comedian.  He was also a self-proclaimed film star.  Dolemite, which he produced and starred in, remains his best-known movie.  Dolemite is a blaxploitation film but it’s a blaxploitation film unlike any other.  Moore plays Dolemite, a pimp who has been released from prison after serving 20 years.  Dolemite seeks revenge on the man who set him up, Willie Green (played by the film’s director, D’Urville Martin.)  Along the way, he proves himself to be the greatest kung fu-fighting pimp around.

Or, at least, that’s the idea.  As a movie, Dolemite is often considered to be an example of outsider art.  It’s a movie unlike any other and it is almost impossible to describe what it’s like to watch it for the first time.  In honor of Rudy Ray Moore’s birthday, here is one of the classic fight scenes from Dolemite:

Tell Me That You Love My 6 Trailers, Wanda June

Okay, so after months and months of it being strangely cold and pleasant down here in Texas, this week the temperature suddenly shot up to 100 degrees and everyone’s going outside and mowing their freaking lawns.  Which means that it smells like freshly cut grass outside (BLEH!) and every time I step through the front door, my allergies go insane and I end up getting sick!  Seriously, I was so sick last night that I ended up staying in for the night and resting, which for some reason my evil sister took as an invitation to attempt to “braid” my hair.  Anyway, as I sit here trying to get the tangles out of my hair (ouch!), why not check out the latest edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers?

The title of this weekend’s edition, by the way, is a really obvious homage to a  film directed by Otto Preminger.  And no, it’s not Skidoo.

1) Nightmares (1983)

For some reason, this anthology seems to pop up on TBS, TNT, USA,, and WGN a lot.  Actually, is WGN actually a cable station?  It sounds made up.  Anyway, I hate anthology films.  Seriously, they always suck so bad and the people who make them are always so freaking proud of themselves.  I mean, seriously — what’s going on with that?  Anyway, it seems like every time I come across it, I end up seeing the part where Emilio Estevez gets attacked by the Bishop of Battle.

2) The Wild Beasts (1984)

Yes, I’ve done some research and guess what?  This film is Italian!  Yay!  Anyway, this trailer informs us that somebody has given all the animals at the zoo a “deadly” dose of PCP.  Okay, so if it’s a deadly dose, then why do they apparently end up going crazy and attacking humans?  I mean, seriously, shouldn’t they be dead?

3) The Principal (1987)

Okay, I first came across the trailer on YouTube many months ago while I was searching for film clips for an abandoned post about teaching-centric grindhouse films.  This trailer has, for some reason, become something of an obsession of mine and it’s because I still have some doubts as to whether or not this film actually exists.  Because, seriously, the trailer is just like a check list of every cliché that we associate with an out-of-control school thriller.  And then it stars Jim Belushi?  Seriously, this can’t be a real movie.  Except I did some research and apparently, there’s a lot of people who think it is real.  And you can order it off of Amazon.  Not that I’m planning on doing so because Jim Belushi is just like bleh to me.

4) The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)

Judging from this trailer, an equally appropriate title for this film would have been The Countryass Girls Who Run Around In Their Underwear Invasion.  While that may sound like stereotyping, it’s okay because I actually am a countryass girl who runs around in her underwear.  Seeing as how we’re always getting victimized in movies like this, I’ve started a support group for us, called Hicks In Panties or HIP for short.

Anyway, I actually have some trouble watching this trailer because — Oh.  My. God. — I hate spiders!  Like I was talking to a friend of mine once and she told me about this time she was on a horse and she ended up riding right through a spider’s web and I was just like, “Girl, how are you still alive?  I’d have to kill myself I’d be so worried about having little spider eggs hatching in my nasal cavities after something like that.”  Anyway, she said that didn’t make any sense at all so I think she’s kinda fooling herself. 

5) Disco Godfather (1979)

Disco Godfather!  This was Rudy Ray Moore’s follow-up to Dolemite.  I haven’t seen either one of them but this trailer features two of my favorite things: poetry and dancing!

6) Police Women (1974)

Okay, let’s end this edition with a little bit of redhead empowerment with the trailer for Lee Frost’s Police Women.

On a final note, stop mowing your freaking lawn, people!  Lisa needs to go out for the weekend!

6 Trailers That Are Partying…Partying…Partying…Yeah!

As Rebecca Black recently reminded us all, Saturday comes after Friday.  However, she neglected to say anything about the fact that Saturday also means another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation trailers.

Stuck-up bitch.

Anyway, it is indeed Saturday and here’s this weekend’s humble offerings…

1) Sweet Jesus Preacherman (1973)

To me, this first offering actually feels more like a parody trailer (like Machete or Hobo With A Shotgun) than an actual trailer.  But no, Sweet Jesus Preacherman appears to be an actual film. 

2) The Soldier (1982)

This was directed by James Glickenhaus, who directed The Exterminator.  According to the commentary track on one of the 42nd Street Forever DVDs, Glickenhaus felt that The Soldier would help him break into mainstream films and, though I’m not a huge fan of action movies, the trailer does look fairly exciting.  Plus, if you watch the whole without blinking, you might catch a split-second appearance from Klaus Kinski.  Supposedly, Kinski was offered a role in both this film and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Kinski chose to appear in The Soldier.

3) The Great Silence (1968)

Speaking of Klaus Kinski, he’s also featured in our next trailer, The Great Silence.  Directed by Sergio Corbucci, The Great Silence has been acclaimed as one of the greatest spaghetti westerns of all time.  This film’s title refers to the fact that the nominal hero (played by Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a mute.  The trailer also features Ennio Morricone’s excellent score.

4) Flesh Gordon (1974)

There were actually two versions of this film — an explicit one and a slightly less explicit one.  I’m guessing this trailer was used to advertise the slightly less explicit version.

5) The Devil’s Rain (1975)

In this film, William Shatner, Eddie Albert, Tom Skerritt, and Ida Lupino battle Satanists (and Ernest Borgnine) in New Mexico.  Though he’s not mentioned in the trailer, John Travolta made his film debut here.  He plays a member of Borgnine’s cult.  This trailer — with its promise of the greatest ending of all time — is a drive-in classic.

6) Dolemite (1975)

Let’s end how we began, with a blaxploitation trailer.  I do have to say that, as a character, Dolemite looks a bit more interesting that Sweet Jesus Preacherman.  Plus, the Dolemite trailer rhymes.

Remember that Monday is Memorial Day so, if nothing else, take a few minutes to remember the men and women who have fought to allow us to live in a country where we can watch movies like Dolemite, Flesh Gordon, and Sweet Jesus Preacherman.