The Bad Movie Report

Soul Vengeance

aka Welcome Home, Brother Charles

The review of Soul Vengeance contains multiple mentions of a certain part of the male anatomy which is still considered unmentionable in many parts of the world today. Proceed at your own risk, and once more this is suggested for MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

-The Spoilsport Management

All of which really goes to make this movie seem much more interesting than it actually is. Poorly placed prepositions aside, let us continue.

Filmmaker Jamaa Fanaka has been making something of a name for himself of late. Unfortunately for him, however, that name is being bandied about in the Bad Movie community. From his astounding ultra-light aircraft vs. drug dealers epic Street Wars to the Saturday-afternoon-TV fodder Penitentiary movies, to this, his first film, Fanaka is gaining a reputation as a provider of ...well... different fare.

Sould vengeance - The BoxTypically, the plot is a bit more convoluted than an initial viewing would have one believe. Charles (Marlo Monte) is a small-time drug dealer who gets busted while his partner N.D. (Jake Carter) escapes. The white cop whose job was catching ND has a whole bunch of issues and starts beating the cuffed Charles, which is a Very Bad Move on the streets of Watts. Psycho's liberal partner Jim (Stan Kamber) has a tough time preventing an impromptu riot, especially when Psycho starts beating mouthy whore Carmen (Reatha Grey). Later, Psycho pressures his partner into stopping in a deserted alleyway so he can beat on Charles some more; when Jim tries to intercede after a few minutes, Psycho knocks him out, then attempts to castrate Charles with a straight razor.

You would think some of this would turn up in Charles' trial, but nope - so he does three years hard time before he is released on parole. Swearing to go straight, Charles finds that the drug-permeated strands of his former life have gone on without him. His old girlfriend, Twyla (Jackie Ziegler) is now the prime fillie of his old pal N.D.'s stable, which leads to Charles getting roughed up and swearing vengeance. The ex-con's younger brother, Teto, is following in his brother's steps. The only sympathetic person he finds is Carmen, who remembers the exact date he was busted and they both ran afoul of the Psycho Cop.

Carmen quits her ho ways and Charles sets out to find a job, only to have a whole bunch of bad mojo stirred up by seeing Psycho Cop on a local news report. So he begins going out at night, working his vengeance. You see, during his time in prison, Charles discovered that his injured penis was capable of growing to enormous lengths. Uh hm. And not only does it have the power to Hypnotize White Women, but it can, like a python, lash out and strangle his enemies.

I'll wait while you read that part again. Hm hmm, hm hmmmmm... okay, got it? Good.

So Charles takes out Psycho Cop, the Lying Prosecutor, and is about to pay off the Corrupt Judge (corrupt because he I'm gonna get in enough trouble for posting this.  Forget  funny captions.witnessed Charles' brutalization on the street - he was about to be Carmen's john for the afternoon!) when Jim shows up, gun drawn. The Liberal Cop (next on Charles' list) had managed to find the one psychiatrist who had a black ex-con patient with a growing penis fixation and put two and five-million together to.... aw, crap, it was astounding detective work. The tables get turned, though, by the Judge's still hyp-mo-tized wife, and Charles winds up with the gun. Attempting to escape, Charles keeps running into Jim's back-up, until the ex-con stands on the ledge of the apartment building, threatening to jump.

Which is where the movie begins - all this is a long flashback. Jim brings in Carmen, hoping she will talk Charles into coming down, and surrendering peacefully. But knowing everything her man has been through, Carmen tearfully yells for him to "Jump!" Freeze frame. The end.


Needless to say, the facet of this movie that endears it to those of us who seek out uncommon fare is the Monster Penis as Instrument of Revenge sub-plot. What renders Soul Vengeance as problematic is that this subplot does not surface until over an hour into a 90 minute movie. Up until that point, the movie pretty much lives up to its former name, Welcome Home Brother Charles, as the ex-con tries his best to stay on the straight and narrow, to never again return to jail, and as he witnesses what has become of the threads of his former life of crime; bitterly watching his pimp-bedecked little brother sitting at a bar table with his now-nemesis ND; torturing himself by watching Twyla perform her exotic dance routine.

Why we still watch rap videos.This portion of the movie is fairly well done, possibly the part filmed by Fanaka while a student at UCLA - it's when we switch to the Murderous Member portion of our movie that we start to run into real problems. Whereas earlier, the pimp-and-ho tough guy dialogue fell mostly into the realm of cliché blaxploitation, the antics of Charles seducing each of his enemies wives and subsequent stranglings play almost into the realm of parody; much of this, taken out of context - and the shift in tenor is so extreme, there isn't much context anyway - plays out like a horror film made by some white supremacist group. Black male despoils white women and disposes of White Power Icons by use of his Superior Manhood. After all, none of his black tormentors - the traitorous ND or his legion of Bogarts - is made to feel the wrath of the Demon Dick.

Or could this be taken for wish fulfillment? Power fantasy? The final picture is so jumbled, the focus of Charles' hatred given so many targets, we can only take what we are offered at face value.

Soul Vengeance feels like a student film much of the time - a few portions have that popular Lynchian quality to them - which means some occasional sub-standard camera work, and a whole lot of bad acting. But there's also some very good acting, and I I actually BELIEVE he is commanding his dick to strangle someone.would be remiss if I didn't mention that Marlo Monte, Reatha Grey, and Jackie Ziegler - as Charles, Carmen, and Twyla - turn in fine performances, with Monte truly exceptional as Charles, even when the film dips into poor sci-fi overdrive. It's a shame we've never seen him again.

Here was, most likely, a student film about a man trying to go straight and dealing with a very traumatic experience, which was given a shamelessly commercial hook - almost literally, at the last minute. People have seen movies with less of a hook than a murderous penis rampant - and as this is the primary reason that most people see this movie, we can only assume it worked.



If you see only one murderous dick film this year... aaah, forget it.

- March 12, 2000

Second Opinions
Teleport City