Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Petey Wheatstraw

Petey Wheatstraw (1977)
Dir: Cliff Roquemore (Human Tornado/Rude)
Starring: Rudy Ray Moore, Leroy and Skillet
So to open Blaxploitation History Month, It is only fitting that I start with a film by the man who got me into the genre to begin with, Rudy Ray Moore. Now I have reviewed a few of his films through the years of course tackling his most famous work in Dolemite and the sequel Human Tornado, and also I chimed in on my thoughts on the film that first introduced me to the genre Disco Godfather, Now I take on one of his lesser known yet in my opinion better films Petey Wheatstraw " The Devil's Son in Law".
    The film opens with Petey (Rudy Ray Moore) telling the tale of his birth,Which shows his mother going into labor at home during a huge storm in Miami, Florida first giving birth to a watermelon then  he is birthed a full grown child appearing to be around 12. Once he exits his mothers womb he jumps up and attacks the delivering doctor for smacking him on the bottom. Shortly after we see young Petey being bullied by some neighborhood kids and after trying to fight the gang off he is approached by Batu, An old man who takes Petey under his wing to teach him the ways of Kung-Fu. While the credits role there is a short montage of Petey training and once his lessons are done he tells Batu his real dream is to be a comedian.Flash forward several years and Petey has grown up to be a successful performer.
Petey gets on a flight to put on his own showcase while in the town he is schedules in we meet his competition Leroy and Skillet. Leroy and Skillet are in talks with a local Mobster Mr.White who is looking to finance their show but if the show does not do well they will have their lives to pay.Everything seems to be looking up for the comedy duo until they hear the news of Petey's arrival and that his show will be taking place on their opening night. Leroy, Skillet and gang set out to convince Petey to postpone his show but their is some bad blood between the funny men. So Leroy and Skillet send out troops to take down all of the adds for Petey's show and when they attempts to peacefully sabotage Petey don't seem to work things take a turn for the worse. Leroy's henchmen Scarface Willy and his sidekick accidently shoot and kill Petey's friend Teddy's younger brother while trying to scare the friends/promoters of Petey, then things get even heavier when the goons open fire at the child's funeral killing Petey and his friends in the attack.
Immediately following the shooting a strange man arrives and resurrects Petey. He gives Petey his card reading Lucifer, turns out the man is in fact the devil and he has a proposition for Petey. If Petey agrees to marry his daughter and provide him with a son, in exchange he will bring Petey and all his friends back to life to seek revenge on those who killed them. After some debate due to the daughter being so ugly, Petey gives in and it is as if the event never took place. After explaining the situation to his Friends Petey and gang set out to get pay back for the underhanded tactics of the dirty playing duo.Teddy goes after Scarface Willy the same night at a club and while he is engaged in a brawl with Willy and his staff of security, Petey arrives on the scene scarring the guys and they run to allert Leroy and Skillet of their findings.
After Leroy and Skillet receive the news they send out some more goons to try again to take out Petey, and after a kung-fu fight in his underwear Petey gets a call from Lucifer telling him of a cane he has provided him with that has super powers.the cane comes in handy helping Petey discover a bomb planted in his club while watching acts rehearse fro his show, After  the bomb threat Petey sets out to go to Leroy and Skillets opening night and he sabotages their show , causing them to verbally assault Mr. White and the fans in the audience, This outrages the mob boss and the duo are taken away as Petey burns the club down.

Now Petey needs to find a way to get out of the wedding and back out of his end of the bargain.The day of the wedding arrives and Lucifer is a bit unhappy with the fact that Petey has been using his powers for good helping out people in the ghetto but he does take Petey to a special hideout to provide him with a private bachelor party where he is treated to an orgy of she devils. After Petey's fling he comes up with a plan to trick the devil by making a mask duplicate of his face to put on a wino and send the decoy off to marry his daughter. Everything seems to be going according to plan until The wino wakes up and takes the mask off revealing the fact that Petey and his friends are trying to skip town.
 Furious with Petey's attempt to trick him, Lucifer sends out his army of demons to take out Petey and crew. This leads to a final showdown in which Petey fights of the devil with his own cane and in a typical Rudy Ray Moore flick fashion the ending is not quite what you would expect, But I will leave that to the viewer to see for themselves.

One thing I love about the films of Rudy Ray Moore is that they are they perfect example of the phrase " So Bad they are good" , Because that is exactly what they are. All of his films are so goofy and over the top that you cannot help but love them. From the extremely corny dialog to the costumes to the truly cheesy fight scenes , All of his films are nothing but fun from beginning to end. I will say that the fight choreography in this one is  far better than his other films but that is not saying much because it is still awful, But hilarious at the same time. Leroy and Skillet are great as the villains in this one as it is so out of character for them it is just a joy to watch them try and be evil. Rudy Ray Moore as usual delivers dialog like no one else can from the rhyming to the attempts to be serious he is awesome once again. This is exactly the type of Blaxploitation film I would suggest to those looking to get into the genre , Because it is just pure fun. No it is not Shaft or Super Fly which are a more serious take on the genre but sometimes the more serious films are not the best way to get into a genre especially for younger film fans as they seem to have shorter attention spans and get bored so easily , A film like this is just so fast paced and goofy it is hard not to watch every moment wanting to see what next ridiculous thing is done or said. Now that I got my Moore fix out of the way I will be taking on a whole spectrum of Blaxploitation from drama to action to horror to comedy. One thing about Blaxploitation cinema is that it is a genre that has so many sub genres in itself it is impossible to put in a box of it's own.
Now as for Petey Wheatstraw......
I am going to rate these a little different than most films due to the fact they are all so different so I will just provide a overall score for these film reviews
 Overall: 6.5 out of 10


  1. WOW I haven't seen this in a long time! Brings back memories, my uncle plays the devil in this movie. Thanks for taking me back.

  2. Your uncle was in this? That is great! who did he play? thanks for checking out my site.