Arrow Video has released the 1976 Blaxploitation/Horror film J.D.’s Revenge in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. I had not seen the film previously but I was interested because of the director involved. I knew of Arthur Marks from his extensive work on the old Perry Mason television series (one of my favorites) and so I was eager to see him step outside of those boundaries.
The film focuses on a black law student named Isaac played fantastically by Glynn Turman (Peyton Place, Cooley High, A Different World and many more). After a night on the town celebrating his friend’s anniversary the group goes to a hypnotist for laughs. While under the spell Isaac flashes back to the 1940’s and a showdown between gangsters and a long held secret. When he comes back to reality he tries to shrug the images away but they stay with him in the days to follow.
Isaac gets headaches and can’t concentrate on his studies or his job because of these visions. He is given a clean bill of health and told it’s probably just stress. If only it were that simple. Slowly Isaac’s personality changes and his new behaviors turn into a nightmare for those around him. Will Isaac figure out what is happening to him in time? Will he go completely insane? You’ll just have to watch the film to see how it turns out!
The plot, while simple, gives a bit of a unique perspective on your typical personality shift/possession movie. The actors play it fairly straight and really dig into their roles, especially the Glynn Turman in the lead and Louis Gossett Jr as the Reverend Elija Bliss. Unfortunately, with the lower budget there are parts that don’t work as well. A bit of the plot is shallow and leaves quite a few seemingly interesting points underdeveloped. Also, some parts of the movie drag a bit, especially when showing unnecessary flashbacks that are repeated. But all in all it’s a decent 70’s horror film.
Some of the dialogue is outright hilarious and over the top. Glynn Turman does a fantastic job selling the idea that he has a different personality bleeding through his typically docile character. His body language and accent changes, depending on which part he is portraying. There is quite a bit of the film that has to be carried simply by his facial expressions and he pulls them off quite well. The film has a surprising amount of nuanced social commentary as well. The cast is full of great character actors like Julian Christopher, David McKnight, and Earl Billings.
- The Killing Floor – New retrospective making of documentary with screenwriter, director, editor and lead actor.
- Here Lies J.D. Walker – audio interview with actor David McKnight
- Theatrical Trailer
- Radio Spots
- Arthur Marks trailer reel
- 23 page booklet with photos and new essay Psychic Connections by Kim Newman
J.D.’s Revenge Final Thoughts:
J.D.’s Revenge is a decent little 70’s film that is a mix of parts of Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde and The Exorcist. I know the film is officially listed as blaxploitation but to me it plays just like a horror film from that era. There are lots of memorable lines and the actors are given interesting roles to play. The budget didn’t allow for the film to really knock your socks off, but I do think it’s worth checking out. Arrow Video did it’s normal job of releasing the definitive version, with a great transfer and special features. All fans of the film will want this in their collection.
Available at Amazon and other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.