BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite & The Human Tornado) came into this world as a 10-year-old boy ready for battle. Wearing diapers and beating the white doctor’s ass who delivered him (and then his father for “keeping him up at night”) is certainly a hell of a way to start off Cliff Roquemore’s third feature film with the godfather of rap. It is also, given the fact that his mother first gives birth to a watermelon, offensive as hell.
This is the territory of Petey Wheatstraw. Written and directed by Roquemore, the film is not a Dolemite sequel but it might as well be. The rhyme styles of Moore simply slay from beginning to end and the hysterical 5-minute opening that sets the tone for this wild tale is pure comedic gold. The next few minutes detail Petey’s desire to entertain the world with foul-mouthed iambic pentameter.
Like Dolemite, Petey Wheatstraw is a sharp-tongued wicked comedian/character who knows Kung Fu. He only wants to make the world laugh, though. Armed with a mission to entertain, he builds a comedic legacy that demands to be seen. Audiences flock to him from far and wide and Petey, the ultimate insult comedian that he is, delivers an amusing and vulgar-laced standup routine night after night.
When the scheduling of a new show interferes with the plan of comedy rivals Leroy and Skillet (Leroy Daniels and Ernest Mayhand) to make a whole lot of money, the dimwitted duo – feeling threatened by Petey’s refusal to reschedule his show – hires a hitman to take him out. Petey reschedules for no man. Soon enough, Petey and his posse are dead.
Enter The Devil himself. Oh, what was that? You didn’t catch the extended title of the movie? Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil’s Son-in-Law. You see, Petey, now dead, makes a deal with Lucipher (G. Tito Shaw), promising to marry his ugly daughter (Ebony Wright) if he will bring the ass-kicking comedian back to life to enact his revenge upon the idiots who plotted against him.
The Devil agrees. With the resurrection complete, Petey immediately goes after those responsible for his death with the devil’s own super pimp cane (which causes its victims to literally shit themselves to death) and, immediately, starts to figure out how to get out of the agreement. Petey Wheatstraw will take no devil daughter as his bride.
The DIY film seems content to tear down everything Dolemite did so successfully. While funny, its extremes often render it a ridiculous farce in the Blaxploitation error of filmmaking. Once Petey gets his ass-kicking power from the devil, he and his gang (also resurrected) are an unstoppable force. There are scenes of high-flying Kung Fu mixed in with scenes of Petey trying to comb out the kinks in a kid’s hair. And Pete’s plan to get out of marrying the devil’s ugly-ass wife is the fantastical tipping point in this supernatural comedy.
While funny, Petey Wheatstraw (and its tin foil-topped super pimp cane) is not for everyone. It’s misogynistic, racist, and vulgar as hell. It also thinks poop is very, very funny. But you cannot deny the fact that Rudy Ray Moore is the baddest muthafucka on the block and therein lies its ultimate source of power. Moore and Roquemore take the black culture and all the myths so important to its longevity and re-introduce them into the culture as urban farce.
Regardless of your feelings on the matter, Petey Wheatstraw, with its blu-ray debut from Vinegar Syndrome, is here to stay.
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 94 mins
Director: Cliff Roquemore
Writer: Cliff Roquemore
Cast: Rudy Ray Moore, Jimmy Lynch, Leroy Daniels
Tagline: Have No Fear, It's the Comedy Smash of the Year!
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm gonna get them silly son of a bitches. Let's make it."
Distributor: Generation International Pictures
Release Date: November 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: July 26, 2016
Synopsis: Petey Wheatstraw (Rudy Ray Moore) is a candidate to become the devil's son-in-law. The storyline is a scaffolding on which Rudy Ray Moore's standup humor can be unfolded. Beginning life as the afterbirth to a watermelon, the young Wheatstraw becomes a martial artist, but is unable to best the evil comedy team of Leroy and Skillet, who also indulge in wholesale murder. Satan restores the comedians' victims to life, and charges Petey with the task of marrying his clock-stoppingly ugly daughter to giving him a grandchild. When Petey attempts to default on the deal, he is pursued by the devil's henchmen.
Available on Blu-ray - July 26, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
Vinegar Syndrome prides itself on restoring cult films. Their release of Petey Wheatstraw is a great example of their quality of work and is the third in a series of expected Rudy Ray Moore restorations, culminating in Disco Godfather next month. Fully restored in 2k from a recently discovered 35mm negative, the AVC encoded 1080p image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) is gloriously gritty with eye-catching details, a nice layer of grain, and solid black levels that add a bit more depth to the picture than ever seen before. Colors are vivid – especially the Hell sequences with its red-lensed effects. The film's original mono 1.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack, which also supplies clean dialogue and a funky soundtrack so you will need to TURN IT UP.
- There is a new historical commentary track recorded by Rudy Ray Moore's biographer, Mark Murray. It is insightful and adds a bit more depth to the movie than expected but, as he shares his own information, really could have and should have included a moderator to break it up a bit. Co-star and set designer Jimmy Lynch, and Cliff Roquemore provide some closing comments.
The on-going Rudy Ray Moore documentary (now in its third part) continues on this release and covers the making-of Petey Wheatstraw with new interviews from its cast and crew. An updated look at the Los Angeles shooting locations is fun, as well. The film’s 11-tracked soundtrack and a still gallery are also included.
- I, Dolemite: Part III (20 min)
- Shooting Locations Revisited (9 min)
- Still Gallery