Saturday, March 8, 2014

Disco Godfather

SCHLOCK!!! That's the word for Disco Godfather. It's a ridiculous piece of over-the-top blaxploitation with a heavy dose of drugsploitation and a shot of disco wrapped up with an amusing attempt at martial arts.

Rudy Ray Moore, in a bit of a turnabout from his pimpin' days as Dolemite and Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son in Law here plays an ex-cop turned club owner turned D.A.R.E. booster. His disco gig provides an excuse for endless scenes of folks shaking their polyester-clad asses and, occasionally, busting out the tube socks and roller skates. ("To be a member of the disco squad at the Godfather's you have to get funky and get down.") All the while, Rudy Ray grooves around behind the decks in a variety of chest-exposing spandex jumpsuits, often hollering "Put your weight on it!" sometimes for five straight minutes. I think it's supposed to be a song.

"I'm fine, divine and guaranteed to blow your mind!"

But there is a serpent in Rudy Ray's funky paradise: The wack. His basketball star nephew has a run-in with angel dust, causing him to freak out on the dance floor, blow the big game and go to kooky crazy dusthead rehab.
"Bucky, what has you done to yourself?"
"No need to talk to him. He's wacked out."

So the next day Rudy Ray puts on his best silver satin newsboy cap and white carnation boutonniere and goes to dig the scene at the "PCP Unit." (Where the Head Doctor In Charge  looks like an old junkie jazzbo in ultra-dark shades and carries around a clipboard with his script on it. No! Fucking really! If you ever see this movie, look at the doctor's clipboard as he holds it and there's a script with the dialogue highlighted. Which proves that at least there was a script, because i would have sworn a good bit of this is improvised.  Definitely a chunk is dubbed in post, but whatever...)
Rudy Ray takes one look at all these bad actors in ratty wigs bugging their eyes our and jumping on the furniture and decides something must be done! So he looks up his old chief of police and cop buddies and sets out to "come down on the suckas who's producin' this shit!"

One thing we come back to incessantly during Disco Godfather is the bargain-basement surrealism of the angel dust possession scenes. Plastic skeletons, rubber masks, fright wigs, zombie makeup, giant snakes, homicidal Globetrotters, sexy demon ladeez, yo' mama... all emerge from the poorly-lit background and hover threateningly in semi-focus.

So Rudy Ray gets busy. The Godfather gives interviews to a Jayne Kennedy-knockoff lady reporter, gets the cocktail waitresses to go undercover, throws an "Attack the Wack" rally, "makes some contact with my snitch friends" and, of course, kicks butt in some of the most ridiculous "kung fu" battles ever. These are some of the most delightful moments in Disco Godfather, where the movie somehow pulls off being oblivious and self-parodying at the same time.

And, yes, that is a piece of wall art made out of carpet remnants. When it comes to craftin', Martha Stewart ain't got nothin' on Rudy Ray Moore!

The mastermind behind the wack is a local entrepreneur with an afro and a basketball team and who i swear to Christ is Dave Chapelle doing a Billy Dee Williams impression.

... and here we have the lab that manufactures, processes and packages all the PCP in Dolemite City. Yup, two guys could easily create "15,000 gallons" of narcotics in such expansive, high-tech facilities....

You know, all this heavy, intricate plotting and intense atmosphere is wearing me out. Let's take another disco break! With wheels! And a fetishy abundance of crotch shots!

But enough filler. Back to the action! Or maybe we'll watch some more praying and singin' over angel dust junkies. Disco Godfather is a firm believer in Jesus steppin' in when the 12 steps don't work.

"Praise the Lord, baby, you gonna be alright!"

Okay, now we're back to the action. Rudy Ray is out for vengeance! He stomps around in loud doubleknit suits and babbles overdubbed tirades about the wack. He and his buddies do a lot of bursting into rooms full of people in wigs and opening up a can of (supermarket-brand) whoop-ass on whoever is nearest the door. ("And Betty! One of the nation's most notorious shoplifters. Bitch, you know I know ya!") Allow me to again remind you that neither he nor anyone else in this film seems to have any actual martial arts skills, so the  kicking and chopping is pretty sloppy. So we've got no actual kung fu masters, but wwe do have this guy, who seems to have taken a few classes and speaks in the weird staccato diction and vaguely Asian accent of a dubbed Shaw Brothers movie.
Rudy Ray gets serious enough to change his three-piece threads and bedazzled jumpsuits for a down-to-business tracksuit with matching knit cap.
 Actually, all the good guys wear sweatsuits. Bad guys wear bellbottoms.
"Hey, what's happenin' man? You need some help?
"This is an angel dust factory!"
"An angel dust factory! Well, let's kick ass then!"
"I can dig it."

A nice touch is that the credits open with "Assistants to Mr. Moore." Because what else are these folks doing but help the creative visions of Rudy Ray Moore take corporeal form? 'Tis truly a great mission indeed. If you're seeking a nice chunk of cray-cray that will put a (disbelieving, indulgent) smile on your face, look no further than Disco Godfather.

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