In Your Face (1977)
Abar, the First Black Superman
Nomination Year: 1997
SYNOPSIS: I was attracted to this movie by the title and cover copy, thinking it would be perfect Smithee material. I was almost disappointed. Almost. As I watched the first part, I was struck by the nearly intelligent social commentary: it was the story of a well-to-do Black doctor whose family faces prejudice and persecution when they move into an all-White neighborhood. The city's militant Black rights group, led by a fiery but intelligent youth named Abar, stirs up counter-trouble. As racial tension mounts, people start getting hurt. At this point, I was about to abandon the film as being too good for my purposes. But luckily, that's when things started getting seriously weird. The doctor's son is killed by a bigoted mob, and his frightened wife and daughter move away. The doctor, though, refuses to be bought, bullied, or scared out of his new home, so he summons Abar and tells him that he's developed a serum which will make him invincible. He injects Abar with the serum and Abar develops these weird-ass psychic powers with which, it seems, he can alter reality itself. Abar goes around town and sets things aright with his mind-warp. I remember staring open-mouthed at the last twenty minutes or so; I never expected this normal-seeming film, with no hint of the supernatural, to throw such a bizarre curve so late in the storyline. I almost cheered.
Abar Saves the Day, Loses the Audience
Criminy! The "super-serum" plot device comes near the end, out of the blue. In and of itself it's bad enough, but to see the effects of Abar's powers is downright painful. He stares off into space, and:
And so on... Ulch. Truly must be seen to be believed.
- White cops stop harassing blacks and instead fight among themselves or spout peace slogans like "Make love, not war."
- A group of drunken black reprobates suddenly find themselves drinking milk -- and loving it.
- A young black purse-snatcher is suddenly compelled to return the purse and collapse at the victim's feet.
- A greedy black preacher, about to leave his poor congregation in his Cadillac, discovers it's turned into a horse and buggy, right under him. He acts as if this were always the case and merrily trots away.
- A burly pimp is on the corner shaking down his whores. One stare from Abar and an abused hooker becomes an expert martial artist who easily beats up the cringing pimp, five times her size.
- A selfish black contractor sits with his family at dinner, bragging about how much money he's making. He finds his spaghetti has turned to worms!
- A group of shiftless black youths are lounging around the streets one second then Abar does his mind-thing and -- poof! -- they're in caps-and-gowns, graduating from college.
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