Slaughter (1972) – A Review
Jim Brown is a former Green Beret by the name of Slaughter. His parents are killed in a car bomb and he takes it upon himself to find and kill the people responsible for it. Slaughter finds them, attacks them, kills them, but the main culprit manages to escape and flees to a South American country.
Thanks to a deal with the U.S. government, Slaughter is granted immunity for murdering the bad guys, as long he crosses the border to eliminate the main big wig Norman Alfe, who is a powerful crime boss.
It’s a deal Slaughter can’t pass up. With Brown unleashed it’s a guarantee for plenty of action!
Slaughter is a a lot of of fun. It’s not a complicated plot at all. but really who needs that! It’s everything you would want out of a blaxploitation flick. It’s got a charismatic star playing a no-nonsense hero, it’s got the early 70’s vibes with the music and the clothes and it’s got plenty of that old school action fans will revel in.
The movie doesn’t waste any time with the setup and very quickly Slaughter has taken care of some baddies, makes his government deal and arrives in the unnamed South American country. Slaughter doesn’t much try to lay low. He makes his presence well known and that he’s ready to shake things up.
Sadistic Rip Torn is Alfe’s righthand man and just wants to kill Slaughter out right. Kingpin Alfe would rather make a deal with Slaughter to smooth things out and avoid further problems. He sends Stella Stevens over to him as a peace offering. But Slaughter is focused and a friendly blonde won’t distract him from why he’s on this getaway. Plus, Stevens falls for Slaughter and becomes his ally.
There’s a bit of a James Bond vibe as Slaughter goes to Alfe’s casino and makes his formal introduction to Alfe There’s a whole subplot about Alfe having some kind of super computer, which is the reason the government wants him eliminated, but that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. It’s enough to know that he’s just a bad guy.
Slaughter has to survive numerous attempted hits and he does so with unshakable coolness. In the end he makes his way to Alfe’s estate with ally Don Gordon and lays waste to all the baddies in a loud, bang climax. He finally catches up to Torn after a car chase and gives him a fiery, showy end.
Ok, it’s very low-budget and the action isn’t exactly elaborate. Some of the action scenes begin and end so abruptly it can be jarring.
There’s one early scene that takes place at an airport with Slaughter driving after a plane that’s trying to take off. The editing is very choppy and it’s clear they just tried to piece together a scene of Slaughter taking out the plane best they could with what they had to work with.
One very clichéd scene is Slaughter arriving at his hotel and unexpectedly being greeted by Gordon in his room, who we haven’t met yet. Instinctively Slaughter attacks this stranger and they get into an over-the-top fight. They’re flying across the room, punching each other, until both smash through the window into the pool.
Of course, we know this guy isn’t a threat to Slaughter and he’s there to help him. That’s what always happens in this scenario. But it’s almost comical how immediate Slaughter starts slugging the guy. The fight could have easily just been avoided had Gordon identified himself, or if he had waited for Slaughter in the hotel lobby instead of inside his hotel room. But then we wouldn’t have gotten an entertaining fight scene. It’s just funny how the the movie seems so unapologetic seizing on this to give us a pretty decent fight scene.
The streamlined pace of it all keeps up the momentum and the movie doesn’t waste time getting to the stuff they know fans want to see – the action scenes with Brown kicking ass. And for the most part they’re quite satisfying and Brown taking out a series of baddies one after another is a hoot. The bad guys try to run Slaughter down, we get knife fights, car chases, shootouts and Brown handles it all with badass appeal and a steely stare.
Torn does his part very well playing an evil heavy. Just by his demented grin you can’t mistake him for anything other than a bad guy. Gordon is a serviceable ally to Brown. Marlene Clark who is also meant to be working with Brown doesn’t get much screen time as she should have had. I had expected her to have more a prominent role. Most of the lady time is with Stevens getting moon-eyed by Slaughter, who he eventually gets vertical with.
Brown, the music by Billy Preston and the quick pace of Slaughter makes this a satisfying B-acitoner right until the end. There was a sequel called Slaughter’s Big-Off, which I’ve read wasn’t as successful both financially or entertainment-wise. But the original is for sure a good time and it will have you cheering for Brown as Slaughter!