On Film: Blaxploitation trailers tell their own story | Calendar | Chicago Reader

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On Film: Blaxploitation trailers tell their own story

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A three-minute tease may be all you really want to see of Scream, Blacula, Scream!, the 1973 sequel to the blaxploitation classic Blacula in which Shakespearean actor William Marshall plays an ass-kicking vampire revivified by voodoo. But other examples from Floyd Webb's collection of film trailers from the genre's heyday are surprisingly intriguing. Brothers (1977) dramatizes the controversial relationship between radical activist Angela Davis and inmate George Jackson, while the trailer for Carbon Copy (1981) features a very young Denzel Washington playing the long-lost son of a white corporate executive.

"I am not into Negrophilia," says Webb, an independent producer and the founder of the Blacklight Film Festival. "But I have a 13-year-old son who I want to be media literate. There's a whole new generation of film students and the general public who don't know what existed or how good or bad it was." Webb got his collection of Shaft-era trailers, lobby cards, and posters from a former projectionist at the black-owned Baldwin Theater in Los Angeles in the early 90s. Initially, he says, he was drawn to their novelty, but after he got them he started to rethink his opinion of the genre and its place in Hollywood history. "This genre gave birth to a new generation of black filmmakers," he says. "Some worked against these images and, as we see, some didn't. But B movies have their placeā€”I'm not an image policeman."

"Blaxploitation Trailers!," about 90 minutes of footage from Webb's collection, screens Friday, August 6, at 8:30 and Wednesday, August 11, at 8:15 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Webb will be present at the Wednesday screening to introduce the program and answer questions. He'll also give away the sound tracks to several films. Tickets are $9; call 312-846-2800 or see the movie listings in Section Two for more.

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