This isn’t the kind of classic cinema news you get every day: Dolemite is coming to VOD, baby! And it’s not just Dolemite coming our way in a glorious HD remaster, it’s a bevy of other blaxploitation classics, from the original film’s sequel The Human Tornado to the tremendously trashy blaxploitation horror mash-up Blackenstein. All are coming our way on July 3 courtesy of Xenon Pictures, with a clear intent to capitalize on the upcoming, Eddie Murphy-starring Rudy Ray Moore biopic, Dolemite is My Name.
If you’ve never heard the name “Dolemite” before, then you are in for a treat, as the film is one of the most colorfully ludicrous of the mid-’70s. Comedian Rudy Ray Moore plays Dolemite, the superpowered, rhyming, irresistible-to-the-ladies super pimp who engages in battles with “the man” and generally kicks ass wherever he goes. Moore had developed the character as a sort of urban stage persona, and his independent recordings as “Dolemite” proved so popular and influential that he was eventually able to produce the 1975 original himself, along with its 1976 follow-up, The Human Tornado. Both make for genuinely hilarious viewing, although we’ll warn you now—they’re both quite ribald. The trailer below should make this quite apparent.
Additional films coming to VOD from Xenon include the equally infamous Rudy Ray Moore film Disco Godfather, wherein Moore plays a disco nightclub owner who needs to clean up the streets when his nephew gets hooked on angel dust. Also arriving at the same time: The lesser-known Petey Wheatstraw, where Moore plays a comedian who is gunned down, then given a chance to make a deal with the devil.
Not to be ignored with all the focus on Moore is the fact that Melvin Van Peebles’ original 1971 classic Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song will also be hitting VOD at the same time—the film widely credited with launching the blaxploitation era in the first place.
Among the other titles available: Multiple entries in the prison-fighting Penitentiary series, “the original black samurai film” Death Force, and others such as Welcome to Death Row, The Muthers, Lord Shango and Blackenstein. Notably absent is Blacula, without which Blackenstein would certainly not have come to be.
If you fancy yourself a cinema fan, you owe it to yourself to check out at least one of these classic pictures. And then, once you’ve seen Dolemite, make sure to enjoy Michael Jai White’s superb modern parody Black Dynamite. You’ll enjoy it even more, knowing where the jokes come from.