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ALABAMA'S GHOST (1972; Just For the Hell Of It).

There's absolutely no way to describe this film and make it sound remotely coherent. But what else could you expect from director Fredric Hobbs, the low-budget/high-weirdness auteur who blessed (obviously confused) drive-in patrons with ROSELAND, THE GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS and (the still M.I.A.) TROIKA. Amateurish, convoluted and insanely stupid, this supernatural blaxploitation gut-buster is the celluloid equivalent of a wicked hangover. And I'll give you odds that after only a few minutes you too will be muttering, "What the fuck am I watching?"... First, let's get the backstory out of the way: Hitler's long-missing scientist, Dr. Caligula, goes to Calcutta to interview famed magician Carter The Great, concerning his discovery of a "super-substance" called Raw Zeta. Resembling a super-duper hashish, it can also be refined and used to enslave humans. Soon after, Carter disappears and is announced dead, and so begins this unfathomable dip into dime-store dreck. While a Dixieland jazz band of old farts croaks the theme song, Alabama (Christopher Brooks, who seems to turn up in all of Hobbs' films) is a funky, stoner Brother who discovers a hidden underground crypt underneath the nightclub. Yes, it's the tomb of Carter, with all of his magical garb, tricks and stash of Raw Zeta -- which Alabama immediately smokes up. Deciding to use the equipment to become "Alabama, King of the Cosmos" and accompanied by Carter's grand-niece, Zoerae (Peggy Browne), he follows in Carter's footsteps by evoking spirits in a crappy nightclub act. But after being seduced by preening groupies and a prissy agent, Alabama hits the road with an act that mixes humdrum rock music, writhing dancers and psychedelic spookiness... becoming an unlikely, cross-country sensation. But when Alabama agrees to divulge Carter's famous Disappearing Elephant Trick, the bad mojo kicks in. There's a magic box that leads to a nightmarish (ha!) dimension featuring the ghost of Carter (played by another member of Hobbs' troupe, E. Kerrigan Prescott). And why not toss in a vampire conspiracy, ready to destroy civilization? Add a robot Alabama, biker vampires, voodoo ceremonies, plus an assembly-line of vampire victims, and you've got a movie with the subtlety of a ball-peen hammer to the temple. And just wait until you get a gander at Alabama's jaw-dropping car -- a bitchin' sculpture-on-wheels that looks like he's driving a Bosch-designed chariot. If you think you're bewildered now, that feeling is squared when you're actually watching this amazing flick. Padded out with authentically-hideous, early-1970s threads and increasingly stoopid surrealism, this outrageous outing from the great-and-powerful Fredric Hobbs proves that he truly is the unsung king of cut-rate cinematic insanity.

© 1998 by Steven Puchalski.