• Disco Godfather (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: August 30th, 2016.
    Director: J. Robert Wagoner
    Cast: Rudy Ray Moore, Lady Reed, Carol Speed, Jerry Jones, Jimmy Lynch, Hawthorne James
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    The fourth and final theatrical film to star the late, great Rudy Ray Moore, 1979’s Disco Godfather (which some of us rented on VHS way back when as AVENGING Disco Godfather) opens with a mesmerizing scene in which a modest sized group of disco devotees strut their stuff on the dance floor of the Blueberry Hill disco. Lights flash, bouncing off of the mirrored walls while the music bumps along to that heavy bassline. As the DJ gets the crowd pumped up, the Disco Godfather emerges from the back of the room, bops his way through the merrymakers and takes his place behind the mic, encouraging man and woman alike to “PUT YOUR WEIGHT ON IT!”

    This Disco Godfather is actually Tucker Williams (Rudy Ray Moore), a former cop turned… Disco Godfather. Things are going great for him until his nephew, Bucky (Julius Carry) gets all hopped up on angel dust and freaks out! An ambulance comes and takes him off to the rehab clinic run by Doctor Fred Mathis (Jerry Jones) who explains to Tucker just what angel dust, or PCP, is all about and how it poses a huge threat to the young people of the day. Case in point? One of the patients, dosed on angel dust, served up a four month old baby that she’d cooked in the oven to her family!!! Tucker heads back to his old precinct to talk to Lieutenant Frank Hayes (Frank Finn) about cleaning up the streets. Before you know it he’s spearheading a program in which local citizens are encouraged to ‘Attack The Wack!’ – but of course, this brings the Disco Godfather to the attention of the local drug lord, who just so happens to be very well connected and more than happy to take Tucker out of the picture for good.

    There are a lot of reasons to love this movie. One of those reasons is the fan-fucking-tastic opening scene where Rudy ‘dances’ his way through the crowd. His dancing style is about as graceful as his patented martials arts style. He puts his hands up and moves them left to right while sort of thrusting his pelvis randomly, a big, goofy grin on his face shining from ear to ear. Rudy’s clad in a powder blue jump suit with an open chest and a lot of studded silver accent pieces, complemented by a dog-collar style accent piece also draped with silver chains. It makes quite a statement and it sets the tone for what’s to come.

    Another reason to love this movie is Rudy himself. In this movie more than his other features even, Rudy yells. A lot. Every line is either completely yelled or, at the very least, sort of yelled. He can’t turn it off and he can’t turn it down and if it’s too loud, you’re too old. If he wants you to PUT YOUR WEIGHT ON IT then you’ll damn well do as you’re told and you’ll like it, because Rudy yells it like he means it. There’s kung-fu in this movie too. It takes about twenty to thirty minutes to get there, but once we do, it’s as satisfyingly awful as Moore’s other attempts to work martial arts into his movie. In the final showdown, Moore’s hanging out in an alley wearing a neat green track suit. He and a few of the other ‘Attack The Wack’ guys take on about a hundred bad guys – with some help from a random jogger who wants to ‘kick some ass!’ - but then a giant guy with no shirt appears atop a big pile of dirt that’s in the alley for no reason. THIS fight is awesome and it takes place in the same alley used in Petey Wheatstraw (either that or there are multiple alleys with ‘LIL WAYNE’ spray painted on the same colored brick walls). The supporting cast members are pretty fun here – Carol Speed (the same Carol Speed who showed up in ABBY, The Mack and The Big Bird Cage among others) has a supporting role here that’s a glorified cameo. Rudy Ray Moore regulars Lady Reed, Jimmy Lynch and Jerry Jones show up here and Howard Jackson, action superstar extraordinaire (who also appeared in Dolemite) also has a small role here. Leroy Daniels, half of comedy duo Leroy And Skillet (of Petey Wheatstraw fame) also shows up for a quick cameo. Keith David even has a blink and you’ll miss it role as one of the guy’s hanging out at the bar. But really, despite all the awesomeness in the background, it’s Rudy in the foreground that glues you to the screen. That crazy grin is infectious.

    Maybe the biggest reason to love this movie, however, is the drug trip sequences. For some reason when Bucky trips, he sees monsters and skeletons and demons and a witch lady wielding a samurai sword, all coming at him out of the darkness, bathed in red light kind of like the scenes we saw in Petey Wheatstraw where Rudy talks to Satan in the underworld. They’re bizarre, completely surreal, and straight out of a horror movie. Later in the film, and this is a spoiler I suppose, Tucker trips himself – and he sees the exact same stuff, except even more of it! Did he and Bucky bond over PCP? Are they psychically linked somehow? Does anyone who tries angel dust see that stuff? I’ve never tried it so I don’t know. I do know that this movie is the tits, however, even if, unlike Moore’s other pictures, it’s actually lacking in tits. Where the earlier three films were loaded with nudity whether you wanted it or not, here everyone pretty much keep their clothes on most of the time.

    There are a few pacing issues in the first half of the movie, but once the Disco Godfather (who is addressed by that title more than once by some of the other characters in the movie) declares all-out war on the PCP dealers, there’s no stopping it.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Presented on a 50GB Blu-ray disc restored from the original 35mm negative in 2k, Disco Godfather makes its high definition debut from Vinegar Syndrome in AVC encoded 1080p framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Like their recent releases of Dolemite, The Human Tornado and Petey Wheatstraw, this new transfer vastly improves over the old DVD from Xenon. Detail is much, much stronger and the colors really pop throughout the movie, especially when all those dancers in their super funky disco suits are hanging out in the Blueberry Hill discotheque scenes. Aside from one instance where a cigarette burn and a big ol’ scratch or two pops up, this is otherwise pretty much pristine. In fact, as good as the other Rudy Ray Moore releases from Vinegar Syndrome have looked, this one looks just that much better. Clarity, texture and detail are way better than they’ve been before (you can definitely tell that Moore is wearing eyeliner in some scenes!), while black levels are nice and deep (this really helps the ‘trip’ sequences feel even weirder and more surreal as the various demons and witches appear out of the darkness). There are no problems with compression artifacts, obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement to note and once again, fans are given a substantial upgrade in the video department.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional subtitles in English only, also gets a pretty noticeable upgrade from past releases on home video particularly where the music is concerned (PUT YOUR WEIGHT ON IT!). There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, and the track is nicely balanced and quite clear. The music sounds a lot stronger here than it did on the DVD while the dialogue is always perfectly audible and quite clear. Alternate language tracks are also provided in French and German – weird!

    Once again, the extras for this release start off with a commentary track featuring Rudy Ray Moore's biographer, Mark Jason Murray, which also includes input from writer/director J. Robert Wagoner and co-writer Cliff Roquemore by way of some interviews that Murray conducted with them over the phone years ago. Also working its way into this track around the one hour mark is a collection of “rare on-set audio” which is interesting to hear. This is basically just what it sounds like – audio recorded during the shoot, so expect to hear clapboards and the director calling “ACTION!” as well as Moore and some of the others delivering their lines. There’s some pretty interesting stuff in here, not the least of which is Murray’s discussion of who did what as far as the film’s soundtrack is concerned. There was a pretty impressive array of studio musicians put together to work on this and they’ve played with a lot of the big names in R&B over the years. We also get some insight into the poor timing of the film’s release, given that it came out in 1979 as disco’s popularity was on the decline. Murray also notes how, despite the fact that Moore said in interviews at the time that this wasn’t a message movie, Disco Godfather is clearly just that – a message movie! There are also some interesting observations in here that take on one of the later scenes in the film, where Tucker is hallucinating, that may or may not allude to his being molested as a child! Along the way we learn who did what on set, we hear about some of the people who play smaller, supporting roles in the film and what their various connections to Moore happened to be, the obvious use of stunt doubles standing in for Moore during certain scenes, we get some info on the locations featured in the picture and other interesting related subjects.

    The fourth installment of the ongoing ‘I, Dolemite’ featurettes that have been included with each new entry in the line is, once again, well worth checking out. Clocking in at about twenty-five minutes in length, we get input from Murray again, as well as some archival footage in which Moore talks up the film and offers his thoughts on its history. Topics here include trying to come up with a more commercially viable film for Moore to star in, working with first time director J. Robert Wagoner, the pitfalls of shooting your movie on some ‘turf’ controller by a street gang and how to deal with them after they’ve shot at you, and quite a bit more!

    Outside of that, the disc also includes an the original theatrical trailers for Disco Godfather, Petey Wheatstraw, The Human Tornado and Dolemite, the film’s soundtrack as an isolated audio track, a still gallery, animated menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release, the clear Blu-ray case also holds a DVD disc for the film. Wrapping all of this up is a reversible cover sleeve featuring slick new original cover artwork by Jay Shaw on one side and the original one sheet art on the flipside.

    The Final Word:

    Disco Godfather might be a kinder, gentler Rudy Ray Moore, lacking the raunchy material that played such a big part in his first three features, but it more than makes up for that with garish costumes, goofy martial arts scenes and completely over the top horror movie style trip sequences! It’s got a killer soundtrack and an equally killer performance from Rudy in the lead. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray is a thing of beauty, presenting the movie in fantastic shape and with a load of great supplements, leaving past DVD editions in the dust.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!







































    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Well done, Ian. This review is hilarious! It makes me want to order it right now.
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      "WHERE IS BUCKY, AND WHAT HAS HE HAD?"