BHH: Review of the movie Voodoo Black Exorcist

Voodoo Black Exorcist

A Review by James Goodridge

Voodoo Black Exorcist (VBE) made in 1974 has a pedigree of grind house no doubt. I even have a vague memory of seeing it down on the “duce” (Time Square) in NYC back in the day, which is why the DVD caught my eye in a 99cent store one spring evening a few years ago.

A Euro-Spanish production directed by Manuel Cano was originally titled Vudu Sangriento–I would bet a bag of those orange circus peanuts nobody but me is fond of the title. It was changed to capitalize mainly on the break-out success of the Exorcist (1973) mixed with the black exploitation wave that rushed into neighborhood and grindhouse theaters. Funny thing, though, most of the black actors are in the background. With the screenplay and story by Santiago Mocada, filmed in various parts of the Caribbean, VBE is a story of lost love.

Shown in sepia flashback of a hundred plus years ago, this film tells the story of Shango Voodoo Priest, Gata-nebo (Aldo Sambrell), who is having an affair with Dambhalla (Tanyeka Stadler) who is the mulatto wife of a white man. Swooning in the midst of love making on a beach, they are caught. The woman’s head is lopped off by a machete. The priest is stuffed into a coffin and buried alive. Eons later his coffin is dug up in the name of scholarship to be transported to a place of study via a cruise ship. Just so happens the wife of the facilitator is a dead ringer of Gata-nebo’s love. The movie stumbles through a series of aboard-ship murders and decapitations climaxing in a show down of good versus evil on shore.

Now, if you get a gauzy feeling watching the movie, it’s okay because VBE is a retelling of various mummy movies that came before it. The scenes of voodoo sacrifice bring to mind the writings of George Bataille. This is the type of movie you throw on your entertainment system first as a warm up if you’re having a grindhouse night at home. For 99 cents I got my entertainment’s worth.

Unintended funny parts of this movie are Ms. Stadler in brown-face (you mean to tell me they couldn’t get Pam Grier, Lola Falana, or even transgender actress Anjita Wilson, who was B-movie famous in Europe at the time do this movie?) and a police inspector asking a police officer is he okay? To which the officer replies that he just got his uniform today as a rookie, which doesn’t look like a uniform. But again, it’s a B-movie so bless Cano for his effort.


aiuthor pix 3Born and raised in the Bronx, New York James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal, James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing. Currently writing a series of short Twilight Zone-inspired stories from the world of art (An occult detective short story, The E.E. Just Affair) with the goal of producing compelling stories. His work has appeared in BlackSciencefictionSociety.com, Genesis Winter 2015 Issue, AfroPhantoms.com, Horroraddicts.net, and a non-fiction essay in Apairy Magazine #8 2016 a Metro Philadelphia arts and literature magazine. You can also hear an interview with Mr. Goodridge on Genesis Science Fiction Radio air date 12/2/16 on YouTube.

Advertisements

BHH: “Outcasts” by Valjeanne Jeffers 2 of 3

“Outcasts” by Valjeanne Jeffers 2 of 3

Monique watched the airships ready for take-off through the bars of her cage, hanging beneath the cliff. She still bore a black eye—the latest bruise from her mother. Only this time she’d fought back: punching and scratching. She’d done no more than was needed to fend Isabelle off and stop her beating. Still, two more weeks were added to her sentence.

 

Longing pierced her soul, as she gazed at the puffs of steam streaming from the ships on their way to patrol, and the wooden wings flapping. Suddenly, the first one was airborne—flying past the slender rocks that separated the triangular stacks of boulders at the edge of her village. The sound of palms on drum-skins beat in refrain to the ships’ wings, as if the drums were were the reason they could fly.

 

One. . . two. . . three … and now they soared into the distance. Monique stared at them until they were lost to her gaze. She gripped the bars of the cage. Suspending prisoners outside during the day, and letting them return home at night, was supposed to be a kinder punishment than perpetually confining captives indoors.

 

I’m still a prisoner. Being outside just makes it worse.

 

The rumbling of her belly and the shaking of her cage let her know it was time to eat. In the next moment, two women hoisted her cage up from under the rock and shifted it to the ground. Their narrowed eyes and pursed lips revealed what they thought of her. The strange one who lusts for the flesh of her sisters. The bad daughter who beats her own mother. 

 

One of the women reached into the folds of her dress and produced a skeleton key. A few moments later her dearest friend, Angelique, sauntered over.  She was a plump young woman, her skin the color of ripe bananas with a thick head of hair. She carried a basket and there was a blanket under her arm. The delectable smell of diri kole ak pwa, brown rice with red kidney beans topped off with red snapper, tomatoes and onions, drifted toward her.

 

Angelique smiled, her teeth flashing against her cafe au lait skin. “Let’s find somewhere nice to eat.”

 

Angelique was a mulatto Affranchis: a wealthy descendant of the union between slave owner and slaves. Birth determined the Affranchis social position, and intermarriage between them solidified this caste solidarity. Some of them had even owned slaves, before General Toussaint had emancipated all living in Saint-Domingue.

 

Angelique knew how the ships were put together, what made them tick and she could fly. So she said. She and Monique’s mutual interest in airships had brought them together and they’d quickly become friends—in spite of their dissimilar backgrounds. How she’d come by her knowledge of airships was a mystery. But she’d shared all she knew with Monique and swore her to secrecy.

 

She was also in love with John, the dark-skinned son of former slaves. Because of his social status Angelique’s parents, who followed the old ways of class solidarity, had forbade any courtship between their daughter and John. Tradition meant she must obey her parents’ wishes or suffer the same fate as Monique.

 

“But I’m going to marry him anyway,” she’d whispered. “See if I don’t.”

 

Monique secretly thought Angelique made half of her stories up, although she never said so. Still, she tells pretty tales, non?

 

Monique followed her past the cottages to a meadow, took the blanket from her friend and spread it on the grass. “If you don’t stop being so nice to me, they’re going to get someone else to bring me lunch.”

 

The young women sat down, unpacked the food and began to eat. “I bet you wish now you’d just taken the punch instead of fighting back, eh?” Angelique said, her sympathetic eyes belying the coldness of her words. “Next time will be probably worst you know. Isabelle has always been ill-tempered. She’s so angry with you. She had her heart set on grandchildren.”

 

Monique frowned. “I can’t help the way I am. Just like you can’t help loving John. . . Your parents will never let you marry him. They’re going to pick out a man for you.”

 

Her best friend grinned slyly. “So they believe.”

 

“What does that mean?”

 

Angelique bit into a piece of fish and didn’t answer. For awhile they ate in silence.

 

“Do you miss Simone much?”

 

Monique’s eyes filled with tears. “Wi. . . It is an ache.”

 

“So you love her?”

 

“Wi.”

 

“What is it like. . . loving a woman?” Although they’d been best friends for years, they’d never discussed this.

 

Monique shrugged. “Like your love for John, I suppose. For me, it is as natural as breathing.”

 

“Well, perhaps after tonight you will met another woman and fall in love.”

 

“Loving someone, whether man or woman, is not like picking vases from the well. If one is empty, you just pick another one, n’est-ce pas? Love is not like that. . . What makes tonight so different?”

 

“Stay awake and find out.”

 

Monique shook her head. “I can’t go fishing. I need my sleep.”

 

“Who said anything about fishing? You must pack a bag and stay awake.”

 

“Poukisa wap fè sa? What are you up to?”

 

Angelique laughed like a child but would say no more.

 

Monique gazed at her friend with exasperation and affection on her brown face. “Why do I always listen to you?”

 

“Because I’m your best friend! Who else would you listen to?”

At that moment, two women plopped on the grass to their right, close enough to hear what the friends were saying. They fell silent and finished eating.

 

##

 

To be continued… Feb 8th, 2019… stay tuned!


Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, a member of the Carolina African American Writer’s Collective, and the author of eight books.Valjeanne was featured in 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction. Her first novel, Immortal, is featured on the Invisible Universe Documentary time-line. Her stories have been published in Reflections Literary and Arts Magazine; Steamfunk!; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Genesis Science Fiction Magazine; Griots II: Sisters of the Spear; Possibilities; and The City.Book I of The Switch II: Clockwork was nominated for the best ebook novella of 2013 (eFestival of Words); and her short story Awakening was published as a podcast by Far Fetched Fables. Preview or purchase Valjeanne’s novels at: Valjeanne Jeffers official site

Black Horror History: Black Herman

Black Herman
by James Goodridge

The jazz age! Blues! The Harlem renaissance period of the 1920’s to about the mid 1930’s were a premier time for the emerging black diaspora creative and intellectual ethos. Literary icons such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston influenced the era with their poetry and prose. Art that recorded the new Negro world view came from the canvas of Aaron Douglas. With his use of mystical light and shadows combined with art deco lines and African themes, he embodied the visual of the renaissance. William Grant Still’s musical movements (Lenox Ave.) provided the soundtrack. This along with other creative souls too many to name here crafted the black struggles and hopes of their day.

Then there was Black Herman.

Thin, tall, and awkward. A dark brown man who dressed “to the nines” as they use to say, sometimes wearing tuxedos as much off stage as he did on stage, Black Herman’s mortal life began as Benjamin Rucker in Virginia in 1889. A student of the mysterious Prince Herman he took his mentor’s name after Prince Herman’s death in 1909. Using prestidigitation, patent medicine, and asrah levitation as part of his repertoire, Black Herman shot to fame in the south as a “race magician” and up north playing to integrated theater goers. But while some magicians disavowed the occult, he embraced it. Working out of his townhouse on west 136th Street in Harlem, Herman did what is called “working the roots” aka hoodooism.

Today the items he used you would find in botanical shops. Your everyday octagon soap found in the market being one of such items. One of Herman’s more interesting  feats was his “Black Herman’s Private Graveyard” where he would have the theater audience follow him to a prearranged site where he would be buried alive for three days only to be resurrected. Sadly the great depression and a fraud conviction cutback Herman’s booking and touring. Depending on which story you read, Black Herman collapsed on stage during a performance in Kentucky or at a boarding house he was staying at in said state in 1934. Legend has it the audience followed his body to the funeral home not believing Herman was dead. Heart attack on stage or indigestion after a boarding house dinner, one could only guess.

Black Herman was made immortal resurrected in literature by author Ishmal Reed in his novel Mumbo Jumbo (1975 Avon). In it, Black Herman is a sleek hoodoo detective going up against corrupt Knights Templars in Jazz age Harlem. A good chapter in Occult America by M. Horowitz (2009 Bantam) is devoted to Black Herman and other black occultists.

For a time like your book title, Mr. Herman, you covered the world.

**********

Born and raised in the Bronx, James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing.jamesgoodridge headshotCurrently, he is writing a series of short “Twilight Zone” inspired stories from the world of art, (The Artwork) and a diesel/punkfunk saga (Madison Cavendish/Seneca Sue Mystic Detectives) with the goal of producing compelling stories