Drum – 1976
Kyle Onstott (novel)
Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Ken Norton
Review by Wayne Malin
Followup to “Mandingo” (NOT a sequel as many believe) about slaves in the old South. It’s better than “Mandingo” but that’s not saying much. They upped the sex and violence even more (this movie originally got an X rating–it was heavily cut to get an R) and the story moves very quick. I was never bored but I was sickened. The blacks are whipped, beaten, shot, assaulted (by women), and the “N” word is used constantly. Also there’s homophobia in here–there’s a gay character who is portrayed as totally evil and meets a very sickening end (although it’s staged for the audience to cheer). I almost stopped watching but I was (in a way) fascinated by seeing how disgusting and degrading a major motion picture could get.
The storyline is slight–very–I can’t even remember it. Ken Norton returns from “Mandingo”. He’s still very muscular, very handsome and still can’t act. Yaphet Kotto looks very embarrassed to be in this film but he’s not bad. Pam Grier (here credited as “Pamela”) has a nothing role (she’s the mistress of Warren Oates) but she does what she can with it. Warren Oates is actually very good here–he’s loud, obnoxious and (occasionally) hilarious. He really brings the movie to life. Everyone else is so-so.
I realize some people think this movie is great because (purportedly) it shows what slavery was like. Good for them–but I find it disturbing that anyone thinks this is a great movie. Subject matter aside, it’s badly directed, looks ugly and (as I said before) has little plot. Also what’s to be gained watching black men and women being tortured and humiliated? Unless you’re into S&M I suggest you avoid this. A very sick movie.