Written by: Carroll Jenkins on April 18th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1978
Director: Rene Martinez
Writers: Laura S. Diaz, Rene Martinez
Cast: Steve Gallon, Joycelyn Norris, Benny Latimore, Peter Conrad, Lee Cross
DVD Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 74 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.98
Two bruthas finance a dwarfish scientist to develop a serum that induces superhuman strength. The only problem is they haven’t formulated the neutralizer and without it the subject will die in 7 days. So they drag a wino in from the street to commit the robbery for them, none other than W-i-i-i-i-ldman Steve.
The actual title is ‘The Six Thousand Dollar Nigger’, and the N-word is used abundantly along with GD, MF, and many more epithets. Wildman Steve’s comedy is quite a bit like early Richard Pryor given the topics and the vocabulary, but Wildman wasn’t angry at everyone. His good-natured super-suave moves on the ladies are lots of fun to watch, and the bare-bones plot is mostly a vehicle for a super-duper time.
The villains are great, with Benny Latimore exceptional as the funky main man who shows Wildman a good time, cons him into participating in the robbery, then plans to off him in cold blood. This film was a one-off from his career as an R&B musician with tunes such as ‘There’s A Red Neck In The Soul Band’ (’75). Peter Conrad (Porky’s) plays the mad scientist, but his performance actually brings some credibility to the audacious goings-on. His portrayal is intelligent and measured much as Peter Dinklage as Lord Tyrion in Game Of Thrones. But not to worry, Wildman keeps things from getting too serious.
This widescreen presentation is sourced from a 35mm print from the American Genre Film Archive, a non-profit whose mission is to save forgotten exploitation fare and transfer to digital format before they are lost forever. The image and color is actually surprising good, considering. There are some light but persistent projection lines and little bits and pieces of dialog and scenes missing due to splices. The dialog is mostly easy to discern. No subtitles or extras.
Yet this really is not a so-bad-it’s-good movie, it actually is, despite the low budget, quite enjoyable on it’s own merits. Yes, the acting by ‘saleswoman 1’ is rather stilted, and when Wildman beds Penny to take her virginity her cesarean scar is visible. Despite, or partially because of, the un-PC swearing and nudity this is a rare diamond in the ruff.