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July 13, 2014

Movie Review: Race War: The Remake (2013)

From the start, I could tell that Race War: The Remake was going to be a low budget mess. I know this, because I have been a part of many low budget messes in my time. At the same time, I knew it could be fun, because based on the opening credits, I knew there was no way the people involved in this movie took themselves seriously. How did I know this? After an epic narrative that scrolled across the screen to set up the story, lead actor Howard Calvert, who plays a drug dealer named Baking Soda, dances in a forest preserve behind the opening credits.

The forest preserve is a familiar scene in the micro-budget horror world. So is a warehouse / storage facility that doubles as the storefront of something else. Add poor lighting and on and off room tone, and this a a late '90s or early 2000s c-movie masterpiece. I know you think I'm dumping on Race War, but I'm not. Movies at this level are what they are. They're usually silly, and they usually look a little crappy in spots. That's fine when you know what you're going into. There is one very important element that every movie at this level needs in order to be enjoyable. Fun. It has to show that the cast and crew had fun. After watching Race War, I can tell you that there's no way anybody involved didn't have a great time, and it shows.

Here's the story. Baking Soda and his partner G.E.D. (Jamelle Kent) are crack dealers. Rival white dealers are trying to take over their territory. The duo encounters every racial stereotype possible on their quest to keep their business afloat, and they go on a gore splattered tear through every race you can think of.

The local bar, which also seems to serve as a grocery store (fronted by the previously mentioned storage facility), is run by an Arabic puppet. Looking closely, you'll notice that it's a Sheri Lewis Lamb Chop puppet dyed brown and modified with head wear. Whenever he speaks, Arabic subtitles pop up on screen. I'd love to know if they actually say anything, or if they're true translations of the dialogue. They also slam whites, blacks, Asians, Jews, Australians, Irish and anything else they could fit in. It's clearly out to offend everyone.

Oh, did I mention that G.E.D. and Soda have another partner named Kreech? Yeah, he's half black and half legendary movie monster. His dad was blaxploitation hero Rudy Ray Williamson, whose rotting head is featured throughout the movie. His mom is an alien who starred in an old movie about a black lagoon.

Yes, it gets weird. It also stays weird. Like I said, these guys had fun. That's the important thing when cash is limited. Hell, I wish more big budget productions would have fun. I definitely can't recommend Race War: The Remake to everyone. It's not for everyone. It's for the true indie horror fan. This is one to watch when you're feeling silly with a bunch of friends. It also doesn't hurt that the DVD has an insert of the original poster art, which has more of a '70s blaxploitation feel to it.

The one thing I can say is that it could have been much shorter. It comes in around 94 minutes, and 70 would have been fine. It's Tom Martino's first movie, and I can forgive the lack of editing. I think there is a notion that a movie has to be 90 minutes, but if it moves along and doesn't lag, the audience for this kind of thing won't care about run time. As long as they get what they pay for, which is probably silly gory fun, they'll be happy. Anyone looking for that will be happy with Race War.

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