Code Red // 1971 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // June 18th, 2010
Rips the veil of secrecy from history's strangest chapter!
Caleb (Tim Kincaid, Bad Girls Dormitory), a yankee visiting family in New Orleans, loses all his money in a card game and is forced to get a job as a teacher. The white men and women are taught in institutions and the slaves aren't taught, so that leaves the quadroon women, three quarters white and one quarter black, raised to be cultured and erudite so they can make suitable concubines for rich white landowners. Caleb falls in love with one of his pupils, the beautiful Coral (Kathrine McKee), but she is already promised to the dastardly Dupree (George Lupo). Caleb must now find a way to escape with Coral before she falls victim to Dupree's nasty intentions.
I requested Quadroon for review, not because I thought it would be a good or even decent film, but because the description made it sound as reprehensible as anything I'd seen in some time. Luckily, I did not walk away disappointed. The film is cheap, poorly made, stupid, and racist to boot. It's hard to know, but it seems like co-directors Jack Weis (Mardi Gras Massacre) and Herbert Janneke, Jr. believed they were making a serious film, which is the only real entertainment to be had here.
Since the film is more about the masters than the slaves, we're left with good and evil slave owners pitted against each other to own slaves. If there's one group I love to root for, it's benevolent plantation owners. They're a really sweet bunch for not outwardly abusing their slaves, only forcing them to work until death and impregnating their daughters to make a generation of indentured concubines who aren't as dark as their ancestors. This, of course, opposed to the evil slave master who does the same thing, but sneers a lot more. You have to love that black-and-white moral dichotomy; it doesn't make you feel dirty at all.
Quadroon looks like a homemade production in every way. It has the appearance of a Herschell Gordon Lewis film (Blood Feast) without any of the entertainment value. Actually, I'll step back from that a little bit; there are some entertaining moments, but it's pure mockery.
Tim Kincaid, who would go on to direct a truckload of gay porn films as Joe Gage, is the kind of deer-in-the-headlights protagonist you want to smack upside the head, but he's James Stewart in comparison to George Lupo, Kincaid's rival. Supposedly, he's playing a Creole nobleman, but his accent varies wildly from Adam Sandler's Cajun Man to something that sounds like a cross between Harvey Keitel and George Wendt. Sadly, his accent is considerably better than his ability to actually deliver the lines. The only saving grace is Kathrine McKee as the object of affection. She's no great thespian herself, but her stellar beauty at least gives the audience something to look forward to. Unfortunately, her presence isn't felt nearly enough.
The quality of filmmaking is utterly amateurish, and the plodding pace would be unbearable if not for the increasingly repugnant politics to keep us on our toes. This climaxes into one of the worst examples of racist filmmaking I've ever seen, ranking right up there with Fight for Your Life and Goodbye, Uncle Tom, and that's saying something. The difference here, though, is that Quadroon manages to be that offensive with a minimum of sex and violence. From a content standpoint, especially for a 1971 exploitation film, Quadroon is quite tame, but its intense bigotry takes it over the top. On the mildly positive side, the film can boast some fairly realistic costumes and sets, leading me to believe that the producers participated in historical reenactments and they shook down their friends for their outfits. There simply isn't enough money behind the film for it to be anything else.
We received a check disc from Code Red, so all the technical details are subject to change. As it is, the non-anamorphic image looks awful, full of grain and noise. The sound isn't much better, though it is audible enough. The only extra provided is a series of original radio spots, which is nothing too interesting.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Radio Spots