• J.D.’s Revenge

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: November 14th, 2017.
    Director: Arthur Marks
    Cast: Louis Gossett Jr, Glynn Turman, Joan Pringle
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    Isaac Hendricks (Glynn Turman) is an ambitious young man who lives in New Orleans. Not only is he in college full time to make it as a lawyer but he’s on the football team too, and to make ends meet? He drives a cab in what little spare time he has. Eventually his girlfriend, Christella (Joan Pringle), encourages him to take a night off so that they can celebrate the anniversary of friends Tony (Carl W. Crudup) and Sheryl (Barbara Taske). While at a night club, Isaac winds up volunteering to participate in a hypnosis act that winds up having some unexpected side effects – Isaac’s mind gets possessed by J.D. Walker (David McKnight), a forties era gangster who was made to be the patsy in the death of his own sister, Betty Jo (Alice Jubert), when it was found out she was pregnant with the child of Elija Bliss (Louis Gossett Jr.). Walker was eventually murdered by Bliss’ brother, Theotis (Fred Pinkard), but it seems he isn’t quite as dead as everyone thought.

    With Walker in control of Isaac’s physical form, his personality changes drastically. Where he was once kind and even meek, he’s now assertive and abusive. Isaac, however, seems to drift in and out of this state. Unsure of what’s happening he starts to question his own sanity, especially once the doctor he sees can’t find anything the matter with him… at least physically. After a possessed Isaac beats Christella, her ex-husband, Carl (Julian Christopher), tries to talk her into getting the cops involved but she knows that Isaac isn’t entirely to blame for this, she knows that there’s something wrong with him. J.D. Walker, however, has got other plans, plans that involve reconnecting with Elija Bliss…

    Directed by Arthur Marks for American International Pictures, J.D.’s Revenge is a pretty gripping mix of seventies Blacksploitation cinematic funk and horror movie elements. The end result is a very watchable, entertaining picture that blends genre conventions quite effectively. If the movie is never properly terrifying it is at least eerie enough in spots to work quite well. Much of the credit for this goes to Turman and McKnight, who basically plays two sides of the same coin here, but the script from Jaison Starkes gives him plenty to work with, even if the film shows some obvious logic gaps and leaves other important characters underdeveloped. Supporting work is good too. Joan Pringle is genuinely sympathetic as the female lead, and a young Louis Gossett Jr. is solid as Walker’s nemesis.

    Marks’ direction is strong. The pacing is controlled, deliberate to be sure but not slow, giving us enough to sink our teeth into even if we can see some of the story’s flaws without having to look too hard. We get enough background on Walker to make the possession angle interesting – there’s a reason he’s back and doing what he’s doing – while the location photography does a really nice job of capturing the naturally occurring atmosphere that mid-seventies New Orleans is able to offer. Robert Prince contributes a legitimately awesome soundtrack.


    The 1.85.1 widescreen transfer presents the film in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks quite nice. Detail is strong, there’s good depth and texture to the image and very little in the way of print damage to note. This isn’t quite as colorful as similar Blaxploitaiton films made around the same time but there’s still plenty of pop in certain scenes, color reproduction is strong. There are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction problems – this looks quite film-like, it’s a solid transfer by anyone’s standards.

    The only audio option for this release is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with subtitles available in English only. Again, no problems to note. The score has nice range to it, good depth too, while the dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow. There are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion to note. The audio here sounds just fine.

    The main extra on the disc is a new featurette entitled The Killing Floor. In this forty-six minute long piece we’re treated to interviews with director Arthur Marks, screenwriter Jaison Starkes, editor George Folsey Jr. and actor Glynn Turman. Here they discuss the origin of the film, what sets it apart from other Blaxploitation films, the characters that populate the picture, the score, the locations and quite a bit more. The disc also contains an eighteen minute audio interview with actor David McKnight entitled Here Lies J.D. Walker in which he speaks about landing his part in the film, working with director Marks and some of his fellow cast members, what it was like on set and his feelings on the film itself.

    Aside from that the disc also includes a still gallery, two minutes of radio spots, a theatrical trailer for the feature, an Arthur Marks trailer reel (which includes spots for Bonnie’s Kids, A Woman For All Men, Friday Foster, Bucktown and The Monkey Hu$tle) menus and chapter selection.

    Inside the keepcase, accompanying the Blu-ray disc, is a DVD version of the movie with the same extras on it. Also inside is a color insert booklet containing an essay on the film called Psychic Connections written by Kim Newman along with credits for the feature and the Blu-ray release. Arrow has also provided some nice reversible cover art for this release.

    The Final Word:

    J.D.’s Revenge is as entertaining as it is supremely cool. Arrow’s Blu-ray release is a good one, presenting the film in great shape and with a nice selection of extra features too. Fans of seventies soul cinema who can appreciate a supernatural twist should definitely appreciate this one. Recommended!

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