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the First Black Superman Abar

Abar, the First Black Superman (1977) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  102m  •    •  Directed by: Frank Packard.  •  Starring: J. Walter Smith, Tobar Mayo, Roxie Young, Gladys Lum, Tony Rumford, Rupert Williams, Tina James, Art Jackson, Allen Ogle, Joe Alberti, Dee Turguand, Nelson Meeker, William Carrol Jr...
       Upon moving into a bigoted neighborhood, the scientist father of a persecuted black family gives a superpower elixir to a tough bodyguard, who thus becomes a superpowered crimefighter.

Review:

Image from: Abar, the First Black Superman (1977)
Image from: Abar, the First Black Superman (1977)
Image from: Abar, the First Black Superman (1977)
Image from: Abar, the First Black Superman (1977)
Image from: Abar, the First Black Superman (1977)
Image from: Abar, the First Black Superman (1977)
From the looks of Abar, the First Black Superman, not a trace of progress was made from the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. That doesn't stop Frank Packard from making his "statement" on race relations between whites and blacks. This is such a clumsy and badly made film, but not for one moment was I bored. At times I was flabbergasted, or yelling at the screen at a character's actions (or, more often than not, so-called performances), but never did I want to turn it off. It's a classic of fun-bad movies, only hurt somewhat by the fact that its main character doesn't turn into the First Black Superman until an hour into the film! (who really REALLY doesn't look like how he does on the re-issued cover, "In Your Face", titled for some God-awful reason).

Abar is part of a black resistance, of sorts, but he only comes into play with the life of Dr. Kincade and his family when the good doctor and his kin move into a 200 grand house - in the suburbs! Oh, Whitey doesn't like that, and of course there's a "welcoming" committee waiting outside the home with signs like "N-word" this and so on, and of course Kincade doesn't feel too comfortable at it, especially when one white woman yells at one of his kids. So he gets Abar to help out as security, but it unfortunately doesn't save Kincade's quick-talking (or mumble-mouthed) son from getting run over by another Whitey in a car. Vengeance must be had! But can Kincade take the serum he's developed for rabbits to gain psychic powers? Will Abar, a volatile and possibly psychotic being with huge muscles and bad 'tude be able to take it? Tune in next week as...

Oh, this is such stupid stuff. Some of the dialog is bad enough, but the performances, oh man. It's like watching an off-off-off-off-off Broadway production that is really the Community theater of a basement in Queens putting on Blaxspoitation. The lead actor, J. Walter Smith, makes me pine for Rudy Ray Moore's expert ability. His job here ranges from wildly, badly over-the-top to unnecessarily whispering every line. The kid actor playing Kincade's son, Tony Rumford, speaks his lines like he wants to rush away to go to the bathroom. And the director makes Tobar Mayo (Abar) into a kind of black El Topo in the last twenty minutes with a series of eye-close-ups that should make him SUPER BAD ASS NEGRO-MAN-THING, but is really just as silly as anything else.

So why recommend it? Because it is so funny, and so tasteless that it's hard to resist. It's the kind of movie that liberally (I mean inappropriately, like at the end and at a critical point midway through) uses clips from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Did they even get the rights to this? Maybe for the good of all African-American kind they persuaded the King estate to use the clips for good use... such as highlighting a story of racial oppression where there's either dirty ghetto that can't be saved or white suburbia that won't have one black person anywhere near them. I almost hope there was a series (or at least a sequel) of these movies. Perhaps once was enough, but I can at least say it's a unequivocal guilty pleasure.


Review by MisterWhiplash from the Internet Movie Database.