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shock-o-rama presents
Mean Mother (1974)

"Knock off that soul brother crap. You ain't got no cool."
- Beauregard Jones (Clifton Jones)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 18, 2003

Stars: Clifton Brown, Dennis Safren
Other Stars: Luciana Paluzzi, Tracy King, Lang Jeffries, Albert Cole, Elizabeth Chauvet
Director: Al Adamson, Leon Klimovsky

MPAA Rating: R for violence/gore, sexual content, drug use
Run Time: 01h:26m:31s
Release Date: March 04, 2003
UPC: 612385320491
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

In the early 1970s, Independent International Pictures was one of the leaders in the creation of successful, low-budget, just plain weird exploitation and horror films. It wasn't uncommon for IIP to borrow large portions of an existing film, write a "parallel story" script, shoot new footage, and edit it into the original. Before you knew it, IIP had a brand new drive-in title which was marketed like hell, and would have wonderfully lurid poster art.

Mean Mother is one such film, and was the work of two IIP greats, director Al Adamson and producer Sam Sherman. The core footage is a dull 1970 Spanish/Italian-made jewel robbery movie entitled El Hombre Que Vino Del Odio, directed by León Klimovsky; that film's only claim to fame was that it starred Thunderball Bond girl Luciana Paluzzi. Sherman and Adamson (who for Mean Mother is credited as Albert Victor) retooled and edited the Klimovsky film to capitalize on the early 1970s blaxploitation craze, which really began with Melvin Van Peebles' classic Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song in 1971.

Using screenwriter Charles Johnson, who wrote Fred Williamson's Hammer, Adamson and Sherman concocted a way to add freshly shot footage, using original El Hombre Que Vino Del Odio cast member Dennis Safren as a connective link, to create a racially edgy film with a shady, violent black lead, with a supposedly international feel. To make things even more surreal, historically, Clifton Brown was cast to play the film's lead character Beauregard Jones. The surreal part is that Brown was actually pop singer Dobie Gray, who had the 1973 single Drift Away.

In the disjointed Mean Mother, Jones is an AWOL soldier who heads back to Nam and teams up with Joe (Dennis Safren), an old army pal, to smuggle drugs, jewelry and get back at some bad guys who double-crossed them. I think. The scenes where Safren has "crossed over" from the old film to the new stuff is handled pretty well, from a technical standpoint, but the stories never seem to really feel connected. The Beauregard Jones storyline gets almost forgotten during the middle portion, and we're left with the tired, and difficult-to-follow Klimovsky footage until a nonsensical car chase/shootout in the final act. Adamson and Sherman tried to spice up the blaxploitation angle, adding gratuitous nudity, courtesy of former stripper Tracy King as Beauregard's main squeeze, and some horribly edited fight sequences.

The story of the 1974 Independent International Pictures release Mean Mother is far more interesting than the film itself, which makes this disc from Shock-O-Rama more of a curiosity for B-movie nuts.

Oh yeah, about those people on the DVD cover art. I have no clue who they are, but I do know they were not in Mean Mother.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Mean Mother is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, and while it has a couple of rough around the edges in spots, it looks like an early 1970s B-movie. As this film was culled from a couple of different sources, image quality and detail does range from scene to scene. The blaxploitation footage has a relatively deep color field, while the slightly older heist footage is not quite so vivid. Night scenes look generally awful and make following the action a chore. The source print shows a significant amount of white specks, but surprisingly the rest of the film itself is in decent enough shape.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Ugly, flat mono is the order of the day for Mean Mother, and the track has not aged well. Voices have a harsh tinniness to them, with only the incessant wah-wah guitar sounding moderately tolerable.

Here's a title where the painful limitations of early 1970s mono are more than evident.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
11 Other Trailer(s) featuring Black Heat, Hell's Bloody Devils, Possession of Nurse Sherri, Naughty Stewardesses, Blazing Stewardesses, Cinderella 2000, Inga, Seduction of Inga, Female Animal, Roxanna, Lustful Addictions
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Sam Sherman
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Independent International Pictures producer Sam Sherman, who contributed a string of great (however truncated) commentaries for Image's Blood films, throws down another nice walk down memory lane with this one. Clocking in at only 47 minutes, the track probably has more info than most 90-minute commentaries, as Sherman loves to talk, and he certainly knows his material quite well. Here he spills the beans on how Mean Mother came to be, as the morphed by-product of a dull European heist film and freshly shot blaxploitation footage. I just wish Sherman's commentary would run the entire length of the film, a complaint I also had about his Image/Blood commentaries.

A six-page color insert booklet chronicles the creation of Mean Mother, and the work of Al Adamson; it serves as a solid addendum to Sherman's commentary.

The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and there are no subtitles.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

As much as I love the work of Al Adamson and Independent International Pictures, Mean Mother just doesn't cut it; there isn't enough of the Clifton Brown/Dobie Gray blaxploitation storyline to make it fun. Fans of B-movies might appreciate the mechanics of combining a previously shot film with newer footage to create an entirely new product. This was Al Adamson's and Independent International's forte, but Mean Mother is not the best example.


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