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Slaughter (Blu-ray Review)

SlaughterThis Jim Brown blaxploitation vehicle directed by Jack Starrett (Cleopatra Jones) is the tale of an ex-Vietnam, ex-Green Beret captain known to his friends and enemies alike by one name …Slaughter.  Gunplay, fist fights and all-out action lies around every corner in Slaughter, co-starring Cameron Mitchell (The Klansman) and Don Gordon (The Mack) and written by Mark Hanna (Gunslinger) and Don Williams (Blood, Black and White).  Academy Award-nominee Rip Torn (Best Supporting Actor, Cross Creek) stars as the psychotic Mafioso who goes head-to-head with the out-for-vengeance Jim Brown in Slaughter.  The success of this film would later lead to a sequel the following year, which was titled Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off.  Hopefully with continued success of these Olive Films blaxploitation releases, that follow-up can see the light of day on Blu-ray.

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Film 

Ex-Green Beret Captain “Slaughter” is out to avenge the murder of his parents by the psychotic Mafioso Dominic Hoffo. Slaughter’s thirst for vengeance will not be sated, even after a sympathetic mobster’s girlfriend, Ann is presented to him as a peace offering.

Jim Brown wasn’t new to acting in movies when Slaughter was released.  He had actually done acting gigs for about eight years by 1972.  Most notably, he was in the classic film, The Dirty Dozen.  Slaughter was his first shot at a big time marquee role however.  And the football legend turned movie star made it look like an easy transition.  Brown has a command on his role, showing off a kind of “cool” while looking like one intense dude (He’s a big guy).  The man is also more than capable of handling the action and trading dramatic chops with his co-stars.  He delivers some of the silliest lines in the most sell-able ways.

Slaughter is one heck of a ride, too.  For its time, the film really has a breakneck pace.  If it lets off the gas, its not long before it leadfoots it for another section of the movie.  Whether it be a shootout, car chase or some stealthy espionage, director Jack Starrett knows what you came for and delivers the goods.  He’s able to manage and balance the “talkie” scenes, action scenes and love scenes in a way that you’re always on your toes with them.

Holding up is a question some might wonder going back to this blaxploitation action classic.  The film does feature some areas of dating.  Yes, there is plenty of racism abound in it.  I argue that’s something you should expect about a blaxploitation film to begin with anyway.  And some of it proves quite humorous in hindsight too.  There are lines like “You know what they say about these dudes, they all got rhythm” that are so ludicrous you have to giggle.  Its like no white person has ever seen or heard of a black person before.  Another piece of dating is their handling of technology or computers that is at the heart of this criminal investigation.  It was the 70s, nobody understood this stuff yet.  Have a good chuckle, yes, but don’t bash the film for being made when it was made.

If you’re wanting a blaxploitation film that delivers all the “goods” you want when viewing one, look no further than Slaughter.  It runs the gamut between having some cool and impressive action sequences, having that cool protagonist with an awesome swagger and also having the retrospective silliness at times for the appeal.  Mainly, watch it for Jim Brown being a badass every time he’s on screen.  Hopefully, Slaughter is the start of much more of Brown’s 70s catalog (And others) coming to Blu-ray finally.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: For being the grindhouse blaxploitation film that it is, Slaughter looks really good on Blu-ray.  Detail is above average and the clarity and cleanliness of the image come sort of unexpected.  No, this isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it doesn’t have to.  Slaughter is sharp enough, and bold enough an image, that if you know anything of how prints of this era were treated, and these certainly aren’t ones getting the best of preservation practices, you’ll be quite surprised and happy.

Depth:  Slightly above average.  Background imagery is a discernible as the focus sees fit.  Movements are smooth and cinematic.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty rich, and hit and miss hide detail.  I didn’t see any crushing and at times detail on things like hair, clothing and surfaces provided some really solid texture work.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look a bit natural, with reds coming through pretty bold.  Stylish clothing does pop, but keeps it real and isn’t overly vivid or anything.  More natural an appearance than anything.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones appear natural and don’t really alter at all throughout.  Close-ups give the best and most colorful amount of detail, and the medium shots are decent enough as well.

Noise/Artifacts:  There is grain and some specs/dirt on the film.  For the most part, this print used for the transfer is in very very good shape.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  This is a solid 2.0 mix that really gets the job done.  The action takes center stage, as guns blasting, tires squealing and car crashing really come at you loud and take command when asked.  None of the music, effects or vocals really step on one another’s toes.  Its not a super loose sounding track, but more than good enough.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear, with some analog sounding moments.

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Extras 

Trailer (HD, 2:44)

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Summary 

Slaughter is a fun film for both elements that hold up and those that don’t.  There are some very dated things in the film regarding computers and racism.  But Jim Brown’s presence, the pacing and the action in the film keep it at bay.  This Blu-ray from Olive Films features a very good presentation and virtually has no extras.  That’s all that is really dragging this score down.  For just the movie its more than good enough of a release and fan’s should snag it at the right price.  If you’re looking for more like this, then that’s how you send Olive Films the message!

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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