You know I think this might be our first Blaxploitation movie for the Collab? Which is quite surprising really. Maybe Jill will correct me but for now I just want to sit with that. I’ve been meaning to check some out for a long time and now I’ve finally seen Miss Grier in action, maybe I bloody will.
Also, the world sadly lost Sid Haig this week and he appears as a very young, very nasty henchman in this week’s pick, coincidence?
A black nurse takes vigilante justice against inner-city drug dealers after her sister becomes their latest victim.
She’s the ‘GODMOTHER’ of them all.
Uh. This film is a lot. In a good way and a bad way but maybe that’s just because by the very nature of this sub-genre, it was not designed with a middle-aged white woman in mind. What I mean is I found some of the imagery and language quite uncomfortable but I’ll go into that in a bit.
Coffy (Grier) is a nurse with the goth AF surname ‘Coffin’ but goes as Coffy because I guess it’s just nicer. She’s a nurse in a busy hospital by day (also night) and a vigilante justice seeker by night (probably not day). Her main MO is to get revenge on the bastards that got her little sister Lulubelle hooked on smack but also, she wants to clean up the streets which are full of corruption. Not only at the hands of the criminals but the police too, the rat bastards.
Coffy moonlights as a junkie in search of her next fix to gain access to a well-known dealer. At his home, she blows off his head and forces his associate to take a legal overdose. When he asks her why, Coffy mentions her sister’s name and her ‘victim’ admits he can’t even remember her. Ohnoyoufuckingdidn’t.
Meanwhile, Coff hangs out a bit with her buddy Carter, a police officer who is vehemently against police corruption. She moans about the state of the community and he agrees with her. Despite this, she’s not convinced he’s as blameless as he says he is until she witnesses him being beaten half to death by some thugs in his apartment. She also gets a slap down (and is sexually assaulted but nobody ever mentions it again. Mmmm).
Carter is badly hurt and left severely brain damaged so our girl does what all good undercover heroes do: she adds him to her ‘To Be Avenged’ list and goes on her merry way. Coffy also has a boyfriend – Howard Brunswick – a local councilman who’s just decided to run for congressman. She digs him for his work in the community and wholeheartedly supports his politics.
Pam, sorry Coffy next sets her sights on super pimp King George and manages to get a gig as one of his tricks by pretending to be a Jamaican prostitute called Mystique. This causes ructions between the other ‘hos’ as George drops them like hot potatoes when Mystique rocks up.
And, well from here there are high jinks to be had, cat fights, horrible misogyny, murder, overuse of the word ‘bitch’ and justice, in no particular order.
Will Coffy do what she came to do – that is, get revenge on behalf of Lulubelle and Carter? Is Howard Brunswick the good guy he claims to be ? Watch if you like your tongue-lashings sharp and delicious, and your arse whoopings bloody and straight to the point.
“What first attracted you this film, Christa?”.
“Well, Pam Grier did, Your Honor and as one of the first female action heroes no less.”
While this film is very exploitative of the female form – all women are whores or bitches, boobs pop out of skimpy tops regularly and are there to be squeezed like ripe grapefruit – Pam is a vision as ballsy Coffy, hell-bent on serving streaming hot mugs of justice to criminals – her way. The woman is resourceful – using her sexuality like a weapon to get where she needs to go – and fearless in ways you can’t even imagine.
I think I might have enjoyed this one a little bit more however, had Coffy had more female support (or offered more) but as it is, vigilante work seems to be a very isolated business. The only interactions Coff has with anyone female, besides her sister are very rocky. I guess this would be the case if you were digging around in the underbelly of the city where everyone’s just trying to survive but still. Girl power, anyone?
How good would it be if she could actually help some of these women build more meaningful lives down the line? I like to think that just after the credits rolled, that’s exactly what she did.
On the topic of strong imagery, there a horrible scene in which King George finally gets what’s coming to him and it’s the way in which he’s tortured and killed that I found haunting (he’s hung from a noose and dragged through a field for miles until dead). It’s an unflinching death and maybe there’s a point to be made in there somewhere, who knows?
I strangely got accustomed to hearing the ‘B’ word but found myself flinching at the overtly racist slurs used towards Coffy and any of the black characters by anyone not black. Which is how I should feel, I know. And call me crazy but I will never tire of hearing Pam Grier refer to everyone as ‘Motherfucker’. I can see now where Samuel L. got the inspiration for his trademark tagline.
There are many things that could be said about this movie and I think I’ll enjoy reading more about the feminist viewpoint of Pam’s grindhouse movies. I liked Grier’s powerhouse performance and can’t look away from her when she’s onscreen, so it’s not hard to understand why she’s the Queen of Blaxploitation.
I need more. STAT.