Hell up in Harlem (1973) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is the sequel to "Black Caesar", starring Fred "The Hammer" Williamson.

The Hammer turns out to be a community minded guy who wants to make NYC a decent place to life - the Giuliani of his own time - except that he plans to do it by violently wiping out all the violent hoods. 

Or something.

He also has a ledger showing crooked payoffs accepted by the corrupt NYC infrastructure, and he sends that to a Senate Investigating Committee. 


Margaret Avery's breasts are exposed in a lovemaking scene with Fred "The Hammer".
Confusing, poorly edited, poorly photographed, and poorly acted, it doesn't even have the colorful characters and world-class R&B that you expect in these 70's Blaxploitation films. I don't think there's even a decent Afro! The post production stuff is just as bad. They added all the fight noises in the editing room, and the punches always seem to arrive long before the noises! 

My favorite scene: The Hammer chases a guy to the airport, but arrives too late to get on the same plane to LA. So Hammer gets on another flight from a different airline which arrives in LA at about the same time, and he finishes the chase at the baggage claim! He chases his enemy up the conveyor belt, shoots him in the face, then dumps his body back down the conveyor belt, so that he arrives with the suitcases!

And what was the deal with Hammer's father?

It's just a half-hearted effort, and I pretty much have to agree with Maltin's score of no stars.

Why in the world does this have a director's commentary on the DVD? I didn't listen to it, but what could he possibly have to say? "Here's how I made this scene incredibly confusing." "Look how I screwed up the transition between these two scenes." We're not talking Spielberg here. Larry Cohen's career highlight was Q: the Winged Serpent. 

Tuna's comments in yellow

Hell up on Harlem (1973) was properly trashed by Scoopy. A quick summary: bad plot, acting, script, photography and soundtrack, good breast exposure in a well-lit sex scene of Margaret Avery. I would add that a big problem with the film was that the black characters were just not black enough. Things I learned from this film:

  • Fred Williamson always kills what he shoots at.
  • Cops never kill what they shoot at.
  • Fred Williamson is a frustrated high hurdler.
  • Any street hood is more trustworthy than your father.
  • It takes less than 20 seconds to strangle anyone, and if you do it with a scarf it is a professional job.
  • Bad cops are all Italian.
  • Women are helpless, and prone to cower.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length director commentary by Larry Cohen

Is this a future superstar playing an uncredited extra with no lines?


The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 0/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.5 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a E (Scoopy) or D- (Tuna). One of the weakest entries in this class of films. I like these 70's blaxploitation films, but this one has no humor, a confusing lack of continuity, no Pam Grier, no Huggy Bear, no Roundtree, and even the score is not as good as usual. Tuna says, "This is seriously bad, and from a genre I normally like".

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