Category Archives: Blaxsploitation

Feminist vigilantes, vampires & the forgotten exploitation film career of Bob Kelljan

Bob 1

US director Bob Kelljan (right), with Timothy Carey in the 1977 Charlie’s Angels episode ‘Angels on Ice’, which Kelljan directed.

On the weekend I unintentionally plunged head first into the lost cultural zeitgeist that was the short but fascinating big screen career of US exploitation filmmaker, Bob Kelljan.

This started Friday evening, when I finally got around to checking out Australian outfit Ex-Films‘ DVD re-release of American International Pictures’ (AIP) controversial 1974 exploitation rape revenge film, Act of Vengeance, courtesy of my friend and film scholar, Dean Brandum. The DVD extras include an excellent essay by Dean on the film’s distribution and the controversy over the original title, Rape Squad, which the company subsequently changed at the last minute to Act of Vengeance.

Lost/unknown/unappreciated exploitation films from the 1960s and 1970s have been hot property for a while now. That said I have little tolerance for watching an exploitation film for the sake of it. But Act of Vengeance, which Kelljan was brought into direct after the previous two directors were fired, delivers on several fronts. 

The plot focuses on a group of women who have been victims of a hockey masked man dubbed the ‘Jingle Bells Rapist’ by the police, because of the song he makes his victims sing as he attacks them.… Read more

Book review: The World of Shaft

The World of Shaft

You might remember the news last year that New Line pictures had acquired the rights to do yet another film remake featuring the iconic character of John Shaft. If so, you may also remember the ensuring controversy that erupted over plans to make said film a comedy, including an open letter protesting the move by  award winning journalist, David F Walker.

I am not sure at what stage the proposal Shaft remake is at, but I totally agree with Walker in his introduction to Steve Aldous’s recently released guide to the character, ‘When author Ernest Tidyman’s book Shaft was first published in 1971, and director Gordon Parks’ cinematic adaption followed a year later, a new era of representation began in American pop culture.’

The World of Shaft attempts to chronicle the cultural phenomena that is the ex-juvenile delinquent, Vietnam Vet, New York private eye known as Shaft. From the character’s origins via the pen of white ex-newspaperman Tidyman to the, in my opinion, rather average 2000 cinematic remake, this is an exhaustive examination of every aspect of the character and his various manifestations.

Shaft emerged from a combination of Tidyman’s desperation to make it as a writer and, as he put it in an interview, his “awareness of both social and literary situations in a changing city.… Read more