WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
I have to confess that until recently, I never even knew SUPER SOUL BROTHER existed. I discovered this film while doing a little shopping at a Hudson Horror Show event back in June of 2015. I was perusing the titles on Vinegar Syndrome‘s table, and was talked into buying this movie. Once I heard the phrase “a homeless wino becomes a superhero” I was pretty much sold. So now, nearly two years later, I have finally decided to dust off the DVD and give it a whirl. (Damn my curiosity to Hell!)
Bob (Benny Latimore) and Jim (Lee Cross) are looking to steal ten million dollars in diamonds. But rather than pull off a heist the old fashioned way, they have entered into an agreement with a scientist named Dr. Dippy (Peter Conrad). You see, the criminal tag-team has donated about six grand to the diminutive Doc, in order to develop a formula that will give people superhuman abilities. The only problem with Dippy’s invention is that in its current form, it will kill whoever takes it. Without a “neutralizer” to combat the serum’s harmful effects, the test subject will die within six days.
Not keen on being a lab rat, Bob announces that he’ll just go grab himself a wino off the street. After a brief stroll through Miami, Bob decides that Steve (“Wildman” Steve Gallon) just happens to fit the bill. To make sure he doesn’t scare off his intended “lab rat,” Bob gives Steve the royal treatment, buying him new suits, setting him up in a “ritzy” apartment, and hiring a prostitute (dressed in a French maid outfit) to cater to Steve’s every sexual desire.
After what seems like an eternity, Steve is finally injected with the serum, then easily fooled into stealing a jewelry store’s safe. But once Steve has served his purpose, Bob reveals that “The Six-Thousand Dollar Nigger” was merely a pawn in a diamond heist, and will die in six days! With time running out, Steve must find an antidote with the aid of his love interest Peggy (Joycelyn Norris), and thwart the evil plans of Bob, Jim, and Dr. Dippy! Will the SUPER SOUL BROTHER succeed?!
Originally released under the controversial title, THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER, this Blaxploitation obscurity sadly turned out to be a complete bore. Aside from its lethargic pacing, SUPER SOUL BROTHER’s biggest crime is the fact that nothing happens for the vast majority of the film. The paper-thin plot is dragged out for nearly an hour before “Wildman” Steve Gallon finally gains his special powers. And other than performing a few lame feats of strength, his newly discovered abilities are never really put to the test!
SUPER SOUL BROTHER was definitely meant to be a comedic feature, but it fails way more often than it succeeds. Many of the actual attempts at humor don’t quite work and feel forced, but there are some (unintentional) laughs to be had here. The villains in this movie all seem to be vying for the coveted title of “worst hairstyle,” plus Bob and Jim publicly wear their pistols in their waistbands almost as if they were fashion accessories! But my favorite part of the movie has to be Peter Conrad as Dr. Dippy, who struggles to maintain his quasi-Russian accent throughout the entirety of the movie.
When not plotting to use Steve in a get rich quick scheme, Dippy romances his busty girlfriend Monica (Wild Savage) who is twice as tall as he is. These two characters actually play pretty well off of each other, and part of me wishes that they shared more screentime together. But instead, most of the focus is on the film’s awful hero (if you want to call him that) “Wildman” Steve. Why awful? Because the guy is nothing more than a sex-starved hobo!
Unlike many Blaxploitation heroes, Steve lacks the screen presence and machismo of characters like Dolemite and Shaft. Those guys talked the talk (No one could ever say “Mothafucka” as awesomely as Rudy Ray Moore!) and walked the walk (Richard Roundtree’s Shaft acted like he owned the streets!). Steve just kind of bumbles around and forces himself upon women, which in itself could have been a harmless character quirk had he not turned into a rapist halfway into the film. There’s a scene where Dr. Dippy sends his assistant Peggy home with Steve to keep an eye on him and make sure he gets plenty of rest for the following day’s experiment.
Steve persists in trying to get into Peggy’s pants, especially after he discovers that she is a virgin. (“A virgin?! Oh shit goddamn it, it’s my lucky day!”) He gets all “sex-crazed” and begins undressing her without permission until she finally relents, and then he leads her to the bedroom. This may have been intended as a mostly harmless and silly sequence, but it becomes slightly disturbing when Peggy repeatedly begs Steve to not hurt her, even as they climb under the sheets. He also yells at her in the heat of the moment when she says she’s afraid. (“Bitch it’s too late to be afraid now!”)
And speaking of Peggy, why in the hell does she allow Steve to go through with the experiment in the first place?! She’s been working with Dr. Dippy on the super serum, so I would assume she knows that it straight up kills test subjects less than a week after the injection! Yet she doesn’t say a word when the formula is administered to Steve. In fact, she doesn’t have a clue as to how to create the fabled “neutralizer,” so I wonder… does she actually want him dead? Even though she brings him the necessary chemicals to create an antidote (which Steve accomplishes on his own, and entirely by accident), there’s no real effort made to save his life!
By the end of the movie, Steve survives, keeps his powers, gets the girl (either due to Stockholm Syndrome, or maybe because he’s pure dynamite in bed), and walks away with a fortune in diamonds. He gets everything by essentially doing nothing! He doesn’t grow as a character, and he never does anything with the powers he is granted by Dr. Dippy’s formula. Steve is as pointless as the movie itself, and it kills me to say that because “Wildman” Steve Gallon was, by all accounts, an accomplished comedian, radio DJ, and humanitarian!
SUPER SOUL BROTHER is a chore to sit through Vault Dwellers. It’s poorly made, fails to deliver a worthwhile protagonist, and doesn’t measure up to the standards set forth by all the Blaxploitation films that came before it. In the hands of a more competent director, I think something could have been made of this short (yet somehow agonizingly long) movie, but as it stands, SUPER SOUL BROTHER is definitely a film I won’t soon revisit. Though the movie offers up a few genuine laughs, and delivers some skin, it is simply not enough to save this forgotten film from receiving:
DVD Notes: While I’m not a fan of the movie, I do appreciate the effort that the folks at Vinegar Syndrome made to restore SUPER SOUL BROTHER, and give it a new lease on life. The print they utilized must have been in rough shape, because there are so many scratches, pops, and missing frames on this transfer. Still, when compared to screen captures of the film’s VHS release (circa 1996), the image quality is far superior! So if you’re convinced that you actually want to give this film a shot, I highly suggest Vinegar Syndrome’s bare bones DVD!
Also, I could not find a trailer for this film online, so enjoy a montage of clips from this little seen Blaxploitation flick.