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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Black Mama, White Mama [Blu-ray]

 

(Eddie Romero, 1973)

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:38.234 

Disc Size: 34,438,899,975 bytes

Feature Size: 25,559,436,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.02 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 22nd (US) April 4th (UK), 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Commentary by filmmaker Andrew Leavold, director of The Search for Weng Weng
White Mama Unchained - An interview with star Margaret Markov (14:01)
Sid's Filipino Adventure - An interview with star Sid Haig (15:51)
The Mad Director of Blood Island - A previously unseen archive interview with director Eddie Romero (14:38)
Trailer (1:54)

Gallery (26 images)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
The first pressing also includes a booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali and extracts from the original press book, illustrated with archive stills and posters

DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: CHICKS IN CHAINS ON THE LAM FROM A PRISON HELL!

Before her iconic turn in Coffy, Pam Grier starred alongside Margaret Markov in a grindhouse spin on Stanley Kramer's The Defiant Ones, fusing the Women in Prison film with the emerging Blaxploitation movement for a riotous romp of bullets, babes and blood!

Lee (Grier), a tough prostitute and Karen (Markov), a revolutionary, are admitted to a tough women s prison where almost immediately (after some playful showering that prefigures Porky s) they clash. Packed off to a maximum security prison, their transport is ambushed by Karen s guerrilla friends and the two escape into the Filipino jungle. Chained together and with differing escape plans their clash intensifies as Lee wants to retrieve a stash of stolen cash to get her off the island and Karen wants to re-join her revolutionary group. Escape isn't easy as they come up against a series of obstacles including a corrupt cop, a bounty hunter, a sadistic Drug Lord and guerrillas who threaten to turn everything upside down.

Chock full of girl fights, gun battles, nudity and humour, Black Mama White Mama, which was also known as Women in Chains and Hot, Hard and Mean, lives up to all its titles as well as featuring a brilliant Sid Haig (Spider Baby, House of 1000 Corpses) as a cowboy bounty hunter and Lynn Borden (Frogs, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry) as a lesbian guard from a script co-written by Jonathan Demme (Caged Heat) and a score sampled by Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill.

 

 

The Film:

Two female prisoners, one black and one white attempt to escape a women's reformatory in this violent exploitation film that is a cheap knock- off of The Defiant Ones. The black woman is in for prostitution while her blonde counterpart was involved with a radical group. They escape after lesbian guards make passes at them. Though chained together, the two manage to make their way through the Filipino jungle to a camp filled with revolutionaries and drug smugglers. There more action ensues as the crooks engage in a climactic battle with a crooked cop!

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

On some undisclosed island in the South Pacific, Pam Grier plays Lee Danier, an angry hooker in an evening dress who gets sent to a not-so-classy women’s reform prison in the middle of the jungle. Do not pass “Go”, do not collect $200. There’s also Karen, played by Margaret Markov, who has likewise earned herself some prison time, due to her nasty habit of trying to instigate revolutions on communist islands. But she looks more like she barely escaped her last photo shoot. Karen and Lee don’t play well together, especially in confined spaces. So when they misbehave in the cafeteria, they’re forced to stand in a walk-in Easy Bake Oven out in the sun for the day as punishment. Fortunately we’ve got a non-stick cooking Pam as our star. The wardens are fed-up with having to break-up their catfights, which cuts into their group shower ogling time. So they chain the two together; make them wear yellow, prison issued mini-skirts; and send them on a bus trip to be interrogated. The bus ride comes to a quick halt, though, when Karen’s rabble-rousing friends attack the convoy. We know they’re revolutionaries because of the amount of their facial hair. The longer your mustache, the more you’re fightin’ “The Man.”.

Excerpt from theLostHighway located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond to the best of our knowledge (see below).

 

NOTE: As Michael Brooke informs us on Facebook in regards to Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' We presume Black Mama, White Mama to be the same situation.

 

Black Mama, White Mama gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow.  It is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1 1/2 hour feature. Colors (bright yellows, olive greens) are rich and there is some wonderfully consistent textures supporting the film-like presentation. The 1080P reproduces solid contrast exhibiting healthy, black levels and lots of pleasing depth in the 1.85:1 frame.  It's very clean with a no scratches or speckles. This Blu-ray probably looks a lot like the theatrical version of the film. It provides an impressive video viewing - as good as we are likely to get for the film.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred via a faithful linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in the original English. There are plenty of aggressive effects - mostly in the form of gunfire that are exported flatly with a pinch of depth. The score by Harry Betts is unremarkable but standard and sounds clean, if not dynamically crisp. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' + 'B'.

 

Extras :

Arrow provide an all-new commentary by filmmaker Andrew Leavold, director of the bizarre history of Filipino B-films documentary The Search for Weng Weng. It's fun and light with some good discussion. White Mama Unchained is a 14-minute interview with star Margaret Markov who talks of her career, working with Pam Grier, and making Black Mama White Mama. Sid's Filipino Adventure is a 16-minuten interview with star Sid Haig (who was also in Jackie Brown with Pam Grier.) The Mad Director of Blood Island is a previously unseen, 1/4 hour, archive interview with director Eddie Romero - who passed away in 2013. There is a trailer and gallery (26 images) and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips and the first pressing also includes a booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali and extracts from the original press book, illustrated with archive stills and posters. A DVD is also included (NTSC for both packages) signifying it as 'Dual-Format'.

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I enjoyed Black Mama, White Mama! What's not to love? Pam Grier, women in a foreign prison, shower scenes, lesbian sex, Nun habits? And the production imperfections only add more kitsch appeal. The Arrow Blu-ray has a lot going for it with an excellent a/v presentation, commentary and very worthwhile supplements. Fans, especially those who want the booklet, should dive-in head first. 

Gary Tooze

March 3rd, 2016

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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