The Black Gestapo (1975)

One of the many blaxploitation with the title prefix Black… (…Samurai, …Caesar, …Aphrodite), Gestapo also manages – rather uncomfortably – to incorporate the iconography of Nazism, bringing another of the popular sub-genre’s of the exploitation market, that together make nazi-blaxploitation. “The People’s Army”, a vigilante group headed by General Ahmed (Rod Perry), are set up in Watts to protect black citizens in the inner city. After they run a white criminal organisation from the community, second in command Colonel Kojah (Charles Robinson), breaks the group in the middle to form his own, more fascistic group, indulging in money-making activities such as drug dealing, and orates for more direct, violent action.

Writer-director Lee frost (along with co-writer-producer Wes Bishop), has obviously, and incredibly insensitively, misinterpreted the black power movement in the late 1960’s/’70’s – particularly the Black Panthers – and presented it with Nazi iconography. It’s an uncomfortable juxtaposition to see a group of black men congregated on a ghetto basketball pitch, dressed fully in the garments of the most vilified, ultra-racist political movement of the twentieth century. Why exactly would anyone (but particularly an ethnic minority), take on this most instantly recognisable of images?

There does seem to be an attempt to perhaps represent the opposing views of the two major iconic black figures of the 1960’s. In Ahmed we have the message of non-violent protest from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whilst Kojah’s view of violent actions mirrors the philosophy of Malcolm X, and his pronouncement of using violence in self-defence. But maybe I’m just reading into something that’s not actually there. When the film isn’t insulting its audience, it displays nothing new to an already lagging genre, and simply presents generic tropes: Blaxploitation was always criticised for perpetuating racial stereotypes, but this film could indeed be guilty of far more. With a series of scenes-we’ve-seen- before, such as the castration of a white man, after he raped a sister, the film also uses the contemporary necessities such as soft female nudity. Action scenes are played out with little excitement or even much vigorous movement, which along with the amateurish film making makes this film a totally dull squib. So… Hardly the “New Master Race,” instead simply insulting to anyone who watches.