by Susan Starr and Kevin Kocur
“Dark Town Strutters” is sort of a Blaxploitation/comical farce/biker/sci-fi movie. Surprisingly, this combination of genres does not go together well. The movie has an ineffective slapstick tone that makes all the humor drop like a lead weight.
Foxy Mama Syreena and her friends ride their three wheelers around the ghetto dodging racist cops and searching for her missing mother. Their hang out is the barbeque joint, Sky Hog, where she meets up with her wacky friends. There is Mellow, (Roger E. Mosely of Magnum PI fame) who is always trying to get into Syreena’s pants, and VD (DeWayne Jessie, best known as Otis Day from “Animal House”). Everyone is warned not to touch VD, cuz his nickname is VD. Get it?
To say the movie makes no sense is an understatement. The bumbling cops keep coming around to arrest the gang just for being black, but they manage to get away by not raising their hands when the cops ask if anyone present is of African-American descent (the cops substitute an offensive term for African-American). Since they don’t raise their hands, the cops let them go. Because racist cops are dumb. That is some powerful social satire.
Syreena’s mother was working undercover investigating Sky Hog founder Colonel Louisville Cross. Colonel Cross is a racist Colonel Sanders parody Cross, as in burning, get it?. When Syreena finds out her mother has disappeared, she dons a variety of disguises as she tries to find out what happened. After cleverly disguising herself as a cop or a nun, she immediatley proceeds to tell everyone around her that she is looking for her mother, so I’m not sure what purpose the disguises serve. At one point during her investigation she stops to do a song and dance number. It’s that kind of movie. She eventually uncovers Colonel Cross’s eeeevil plot to clone black leaders. These clones can then be programmed to vote for white men. Of course the Colonel’s goons are bike riding Klansman. You know they’re KKK bikers because they all wear their goggles (over the hoods) throughout the entire film.
The movie includes the obligatory wacky bike chase where people do things like ride through bales of hay, ride underwater and the ever popular sidecar that splits in half, goes around an obstacle and then merges back together. Since I’ve been reviewing movies from MMM, I can’t tell you how many of these chases I’ve seen. If you’ve ever seen a biker “comedy” with a wacky bike chase, you can skip this scene because it is exactly like every other wacky bike chase.
If you want to watch a farcical comedy with some insight into racial issues rent “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” or “Undercover Brother”. These movies may not have bikes in them, but they are actually funny and entertaining. Something that can’t be said for “Dark Town Strutters”.
If the Wayan brothers had ever decided to mix Fellini with the Keystone Cops, it would problem look a lot like this film. Since Susan already talked about the plot and I use the term loosely I’ll do what I do best and talk about the bikes.
Syreena and her quartet cruise around on VW powered trikes. Many of you will remember that these became popular in the ‘70’s. Well, here they are in all of their garish glory. But what self respecting Kung Fu fighting sister would be caught dead without a matching ensemble to go with her glorious ride? Yup, we’re talking feather, fur and sequin covered helmets and jumpsuits! One more point I would like to make is that throughout the film the trikes are often refered to as “choppers”. This will surely send MMM editor Pearman (known trike enthusiast) off on a tyrade. So I’ll just move on.
Mellow’s gang rides around on smaller two strokes. Mellow himself rides a Vespa, complete with sissy bar and trophy tied to the handlebars. Tough guy, eh? The incompetent Klan bikers all ride Scrambler-type Dual Sports, except for the couple riding around on a Shovelhead FL powered hack. There’s even a scene of Syreena on a Police spec Harley 45 Servicar.
While I can think of worse movies that we’ve reviewed (no wait, I can’t) I still managed to find that the movie had one redeeming quality: it made me appreciate the quality motorcycle films out there even more. I found this little “gem” at my local video store. Not surprisingly, it was covered with dust and only available on VHS. Those waiting for the Directors Cut DVD might have a bit of a wait ahead of them…