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
of which really goes to make this movie seem much more interesting
than it actually is. Poorly placed prepositions aside, let us continue.
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.
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.
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
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.
wait while you read that part again. Hm hmm, hm hmmmmm... okay, got
Charles takes out Psycho Cop, the Lying Prosecutor, and is about to
pay off the Corrupt Judge (corrupt because he 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.