Black Shampoo (1976)


In my mind, I have considered upward of ten movies that could serve as my first post, each one having the characteristics that I thought would make them good choices since we (seriously) started talking about this blog last week. Up until last night, I had no clue as to which one to pick. I needed my inaugural post to be one that carried behind it what both John and I wanted this exercise in fandom to be, a venue to highlight lesser known cinema while talking about the genres we love. Good thing I started a fairly significant Blaxploitation run the other day or I may still be staring at my computer monitor, waiting…waiting.

I first heard of Black Shampoo several years ago. And by that, I literally just heard the name. I had never heard of the director. Or the actors. Netflix was no help, with the only option being the dreaded “Save” status. Even a quick Internet search yielded little in return; just a bare bones IMDB page and a Wikipedia entry that only regurgitated the synopsis found on the back of the DVD case. With the Internet failing me, I can only assume that the title tried to capitalize on the popularity of the Hal Ashby/Warren Beatty Shampoo which came out in the year prior to Black Shampoo’s release. Outside of the film’s title and the protagonist being a ladies man who works in a salon, the similarities end there.

So is the movie any good? A lack of information and fans online can’t be a good thing, right?

This is partially true as the movie itself isn’t particularly good. The direction, cinematography, acting, and generally everything else that goes into making a film is lacking, even by low budget standards in 1976. However, what the film lacks in technical knowledge, it more than makes up for in how insanely bipolar and un-pc* it is. It starts off in the 1970’s softcore B movie realm – a shock in itself; then downshifts for around a half hour to set up its paper-thin story before the third act turns into one of the most violent revenge flicks I have seen in recent memory. Hot curling irons, pool cues, guns, and vehicular manslaughter abound. Our protagonist even gets the opportunity to go all Dark of the Sun on several mobster henchmen before the film reaches the conclusion of its brief running time – only 82 minutes!

During its final 15 minutes, Black Shampoo seems to set its sights on becoming the most surreal entry in the Blaxploitation movement, a goal that it not only achieves, but obliterates in the process. This fact alone makes it worth checking out if you are a fan of exploitation or bugnuts cinema.


*There is no way this would get made today, and I think that the trailer  above gives the viewer a pretty good indication about what I am referring to without having to get into all the gory details. If political correctness was a person, then Black Shampoowould have drove over to his house, kicked his dog, flushed his goldfish, made out with his wife — his daughter had to watch, and then burnt the house to the ground all while Rammstein’s Du Hast played at a high decibel.


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