Continuing the Septic Cinema
moniker used for their double bill of THE VELVET TRAP/HOT NIGHTS ON THE CAMPUS
released last year, QUADROON’s main menu doesn’t exactly instill
confidence. The menu in question features an animation of a Porta-John which,
after being knocked over on its side, reveals a cut out of actor George Lupo’s
head on one end and a flowing stream of diarrhea coming out of the other. In
real estate presentation is everything, or at least so I’ve been told,
and in many ways the same could be said for DVD releases. As collectors become
more finicky and consumers become more frugal how a release is presented (its
cover, special features, etc.) could mean the difference between a hot ticket
item and frequently ignored filler destined for the bargain bin. Based on QUADROON's
presentation it would appear that those evolved regard the production as nothing
short of a steaming pile.
After a friendly bet leaves him penniless, Caleb (Tim Kincaid), a Yankee who has only recently arrived in Louisiana, is forced to seek aid from friends and family. Not one for taking handouts, Caleb takes a job as an educator, teaching a class that is distinctly unique to New Orleans. Described by his friend Antoine (Robert Priest) as having been “blessed with a drop of cream”, Caleb’s students consist of young women known as Quadroon’s, the offspring of white Creole men and their black lovers. Raised and fashioned to be mistresses, one Quadroon in particular, Coral (Kathrine McKee), catches both Caleb’s eye and curiosity. For the life of him, Caleb can not comprehend Coral’s compliance with her lot in life but the light skinned beauty makes no qualms about her fate. Despite his better judgment, Caleb’s growing affection becomes further complicated by the impending Quadroon Ball at which Coral will be presented to Mister Dupree (George Lupo), a local Creole with whom no man would dare challenge for fear of repercussion. Fearing only a life without his beloved Coral, Caleb foolhardy steps between Dupree and his would be Quadroon, leading to a gentlemen’s duel to which the winner will receive a prize “1/4 Black, 3/4 White and ALL WOMAN!”
For a picture about attractive women, born and raised to be submissive sexual partners, QUADROON is rather tame. Scenes of sexuality are kept to a minimum, with hardly any nudity to be seen save for a fleeting glimpse of Kathrine McKee, and short shots of stiff action (and acting) do little in helping to liven up the mix. The film is however overtly racist which considering the picture plot should not be all that surprising. What is surprising however is the apparent participation of the town of New Orleans. I can’t help but wonder what the numerous government officials and city offices thought when they first saw the picture, in particularly a scene toward the film's conclusion in which Mister Dupree is punishing Coral’s mom for tricking him into letting Coral escape. Rather than letting his grimy Caucasian henchmen have their way with her, the greatest punishment Dupree can conjuror to inflict on the captive woman is to force her to sleep with a black man. Four black men actually, each of which maul the poor soul and the audience’s eyes via several superimposed closes up of panting men, heaving back and forth. Maybe the film and it makers had something to say and maybe they were just trying to make a quick buck (I'm betting on the latter) but between its bleak ending and high school play stage design any message, positive or otherwise, was lost on me.
QUADROON would prove to be Herbert Janneke Jr. sole cinematic endeavor but co-director Jack Weis would remain in Louisiana to direct a few more regional films including MARDI GRAS MASSACRE and CRYPT OF DARK SECRETS, which is worth watching for Maureen Ridley's naked voodoo dance alone! Most of the cast moved away from acting after QUADROON, though several remained in the entertainment field, most notably Tim Kincaid who directed a number of B pictures in the late 1980s for Charles Band, including ROBOT HOLOCAUST, BREEDERS and MUTANT HUNT. Tim also directed RIOT ON 42ND ST. and BAD GIRLS DORMITORY (both of which saw DVD releases through Code Red/Media Blasters) as well as host of gay pornographic films under the alias Joe Gage. QUADROON's cast also includes Bill McGhee, best known for his popsicle sucking antics in S.F. Brownrigg's DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (1973).
Backed by an anamorphic widescreen transfer, QUADROON is presented in a 1.78.1 aspect ratio. Far from outstanding, the print used features its fair share of running lines and other bits of dancing debris. Colors are a bit muted and day for night scenes are often so muddled it’s hard to tell what is going on. Likewise the mono English audio track isn’t the cleanest, featuring its fare share of pops and distortion; it is however no more difficult to follow than George Lupo’s horrid attempts at a Creole accent. This release's sole extra is a pair of radio spots, one 30 seconds long, the other 60, both of which have seen/heard better days. (Jason McElreath)
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