6 Reasons Dolemite Is The Most Awesomely Bad Movie Ever
You can't call the 1975 blaxploitation film Dolemite a bad movie, in the same way you can't call the Charge of the Light Brigade a failed military engagement: By any sane definition it really absolutely is the worst one ever, but its level of failure so far transcends the original concepts involved it takes on immortality. It honestly might not be legal to make a film like this any more.
This of course is just all the more reason to examine it, as if it were one of the last, badly deformed specimens of an endangered species.
Based on the credits, incomparable expletivist Rudy Ray "Dolemite" Moore writes, produces, directs and stars in the film.
WARNING: Poster teaches at least two incorrect lessons about firearm safety.
Based on everything else we see on screen, he filled all positions he couldn't physically do himself with people he picked up off the street. Most of the "actors" look like they just regained the power of speech through experimental surgery, and the boom mic makes daring raids to claim scenes as part of the Gloriously Crappy Sound Man Empire.
While some cinematic experiments have been recorded in one take, Dolemite was written and produced in that take too. People arrive on screen with absolutely no idea of what they're supposed to be doing, many looking like the concept of "pretending to be someone else" is being explained off screen in sign language several seconds after the camera has started rolling. This is the only way to explain why a "Fuck you"/"No, Fuck YOU" exchange can take upwards of 20 seconds.
A scene from the trailer, featuring an apparently heavily sedated Rudy Ray Moore.
It's still a priceless window into the most motherfucking soul on the planet. The plot is Dolemite framed, Dolemite released, then badly-paced VENGEANCE. Even within such a complex plot they find time to reveal Rudy's opinions on:
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Dolemite's first action on release from prison is to strip out of the square prison-issue clothes, with the entire male population of the prison watching, and get into pimp gear.
Tightey-whiteys: The only whiteys Dolemite will tolerate.
He then gets into a limo and starts taking his clothes off again for some reason. This is one of the many, many scenes that obviously seemed badass inside Rudy Ray's head and nowhere else, and that offer irrefutable proof that once Rudy screamed action, everyone else was too terrified to speak. One particularly curious decision that you'd think even the most cowardly Assistant Director would have raised his hand for: If I was portraying a badass ladies man his first action would not be "Performing strip-tease for a male convict population."
His adoring audience.
Rudy Ray Moore wants you to know he's successful with women, and he thinks "insinuation" is something people do when they're impotent. If he wishes to imply a lady likes him, the only reason you don't see shaft is because the cameraman can't get the lens into the molecule-thin gap between his crotch and the refurbished prostitute/actress impersonating a face-shaped vacuum cleaner.
The only time any of the women in the film look comfortable on screen is when they're licking people. I tried to imagine a life so tragic that the best moments in it are licking Rudy Ray Moore, which is why I'm dictating this article to the suicide negotiator on the street 10 floors below me. This remains the only movie I've ever seen where a full backhand slap is the most romantic gesture. And this is a real full on pimp-slap (as in "Oh, THAT'S why pimps are considered a cross between humanity and sewage"). Of course, in the world of Dolemite, this always leads immediately to sex. Horrific, horrific sex.
Stephen King once had a nightmare like this but was too scared to write about it.
A still image really doesn't capture the horror, and because I'm not Cthulhu I can't put it into words. I was going to make a GIF until I remembered my strict vow of "NOT measurably increasing the amount of terror and pain in the world." I've seen more romantic scenes in Hellraiser. I don't know exactly how long the grunting goes on, because I was screaming the first time and will lose my remaining eye if I go back to check, but recall it being approximately Forever Times Torment.
Dolemite is often called upon to dispense ass-whooping, which is unfortunate as his kung fu makes William Shatner look like a CGI-aided Jet Li. His primary attack is arthritically wiggling his leg at people until they remember they're supposed to fall down.
That's actually the kick on the way up. Dolemite won' let martial arts,
or basic human anatomy, get in the way of kicking ass!
Overall I'd say the choreography is maybe two notches below what you'd get with marionettes in a puppet show reenactment of The Matrix: Reloaded. Observe the below confrontation. The evil antagonist (ie, fat white guy in a suit) makes his move...
His opponent makes the exact same motion one would use to gently straighten a man's tie with your toe...
...which prompts the villain to spontaneously launch himself into the open trunk of a nearby car, off screen and out of the movie, finding the merciful reward we all hope to receive after death.
We would link the video clip for this, but right after that kick it immediately cuts to Dolemite having his favorite kind of sex: graphic and horrifying. We're thinking about implementing a subscription-based model where we show you that clip unless you pay $19.95.
Rudy Ray knows drug addicts. Rudy Ray knows whores. Rudy Ray knows a surprising number of rat-soup eating motherfuckers, but RR does not know any musicians. The excruciatingly extended music scene--one of many methods used by Mr. Moore to extend his 20 minute plot into the hour and a half demanded by The Man--features a band who could only have been hired to destroy the stereotype that black people have rhythm, and create a new stereotype that black people can't hear.
If you see these men, and they're moving, it's already too late to run.
Every character swears like a sailor on shore leave from the S.S. Tourette's, with the exception of a preacher character, who balances things out by running guns through his church and boning a woman so fat he could choose any fold at random and call it an orifice. Yet he refuses to say "motherfucker." That is an extremely specific moral line you've drawn for yourself, preacher man.
Everyone else uses language like a motherfucker with his dick in a mousetrap. The motherfucking is so intense you'll finish the movie with a new sibling. My wife had to spend a fortnight training me out of calling our cat a "rat-eating motherfucker," despite both parts of that statement actually being true for most cats.
I could go on, but hopefully by this point this article is being read by your roommate, who is wondering what exactly you saw on your computer monitor that made you race out of the apartment and toward the video store (and they will have a copy--they keep it in the safe with the cash, as an anti-theft measure). Once you settle in to watch it, keep one idea firmly planted in your mind:
Not only was Rudy Ray Moore not promptly arrested when the film was released. It made him enough money to spawn a sequel.
For more from Luke, check out Ireland's Only Kung Fu Movie (Is The Worst Film Ever Made) and 7 (Stupid) People Who Sued the Scientific Method.