Screening and discussion of blaxploitation film classic Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off (1973) with Gerald Butters, author of the new book From Sweetback to Super Fly: Race & Film Audiences in Chicago’s Loop, and Sergio Mims, programmer of Chicago’s Black Harvest Film Festival and writer of Indiewire’s Shadow and Act blog.
One of the rare sequels that’s actually better than the original, Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off is a dazzling, violent and chaotic film about a world gone mad. After taking revenge on the gangsters who killed his parents in the first Slaughter film, blaxploitation film icon Jim Brown finds himself in the cross-hairs of a vicious crime lord (played by the unlikely Ed McMahon of The Tonight Show). With a climax that clearly inspired the bloody final confrontation in Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off is blaxploitation cinema in full bloom.
In From Sweetback to Super Fly, Gerald Butters describes the explosion of blaxploitation film in early 1970s Chicago. Films like Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off changed the dynamics of who attended motion picture theaters in the Loop, and led many Loop theaters to gain a reputation, in a seemingly short amount of time, that they were “black spaces.” But not all black Chicagoans were happy with the genre, claiming that it was destructive to black youth, and by 1973, plans were already in the works to bulldoze all of these theaters. Join a post-film discussion about this little-known history with Butters and Sergio Mims.
Gerald R. Butters, Jr is a professor of history at Aurora University, and teaches in the Masters of Liberal Studies graduate program at Northwestern University. His previous books include Black Manhood on the Silent Screen and Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966. A Fulbright scholar, Butters has lectured in Europe, Canada and the US.
(Gordon Douglas, 1973, 94 min)