'Slaughter' *** 032205
DVD Review (1972)

The Work = ***
So, Jim Brown is the man. I give you 'Slaughter', a mediocre but not horrible film from the wave of cinema often referred to as "Blaxploitation." 'Slaughter', would probably be a waste were it not for big Jim Brown. How he didn't go on to a larger career in film is beyond me. (I may get some insight soon because in not too terribly long I will be reviewing Spike Lee's movie on him, 'Jim Brown All American'.)

Brown plays Slaughter, a Green Beret captain looking into the murder of his father. The film really only sketches out what one might call a plot in the loosest of terms. Actually it doesn't hurt the film too much because there is a lot of action (albeit low budget action) and because what he lacks in acting chops Brown makes up for in screen presence.

The man was huge on screen (and probably in life too.) He is somehow charismatic with his assured, cool, delivery. Watch for the way he delivers a line to a thug with a knife on the rooftop of a building. The man had just tried to run Slaughter over with a car. That didn't stop him and Slaughter let's the thug know he had better have more skill with the knife. The whole movie may be extremely low budget and convoluted but that doesn't seem to matter to Brown who just plows through the material with confidence.

Actually, to be fair, he is not the only one that helps the film. The underrated Don Gordon plays Slaughter's partner. Gordon you might recognize as a villain in 'The Mack' or as McQueen’s friend in 'Bullitt'. He also brings a certain gung ho charm to the film. (Actually, he's still around and a good sport too, he's on the extra features for 'The Mack'.) MGM should have had him talk about 'Slaughter', not to mention getting input from Jim Brown himself.

Stella Stevens looks really, really, attractive as the love interest in 'Slaughter' and she certainly does a serviceable job acting here. Rip Torn (who somehow kept reminding me a bit of Jack Nicholson with his style of acting) also does a good job playing a man you love to hate. He is the central villain in 'Slaughter' and he is smarmy and racist mobster.

Anyhew’, for the most part the actors carry the film along. What holds it back are some of the funky choices in direction. Whether it was the film's director Jack Starrett that did it, or whether someone else forced it on the film I don't know. In any event, there are several distracting passages of action that have a lot of shots that were filmed with a wide lens. When I say a wide lens, I mean a wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide lens.

These highly distorted shots stand out and look extremely awkward. Several other shots in 'Slaughter' employ normal-ish wide lenses for little reason, other than I suspect, to make them sort of match the crazy slo’ mo’ wide angle shots in the other sequences. I honestly don't know what they were thinking. I wonder if possibly it was done to cover up stunt doubles and/ or effects.

DVD = ***

The Look
Ok, at least MGM put it in widescreen. The transfer is not the worst but it is pretty grainy in places. There was also some haloing present. I guess I can't complain they did do a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer.

The Sound
We get a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix that I'm guessing is pretty faithful to the original source. Several lines were obviously dubbed in but I'm guessing that's in the original too.

The Bonus
Hmmmm, some French and Spanish subtitles, a French audio track (Hoooraaaayy!) and the trailer.... You know, jeez people, do something! Get commentaries from people that worked on the film or even just fans of the genre. Get interviews! If nothing else, since he talked about 'The Mack', you know Gordon would probably talk about this film. Come on, do something!!!

All Together = ***
So, at the end of the day 'Slaughter' is what you might call a mediocre film I suppose. For me it is better than that. Jim Brown makes this his action vehicle. I say it's worth checking out if you are a fan or even a fan of the genre. Hell, seeing Stella Stevens nekked' ain't no price to pay!


'Slaughter' Links:


Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.