Before directing the legendary PENITENTIARY trilogy, Jamaa Fanaka helmed these two offbeat genre films, which helped catapult him to recognition as one of the most important black filmmakers working in 70s independent cinema.
In Fanaka’s debut feature, WELCOME HOME BROTHER CHARLES, a young black man is sent to prison, after being brutalized by a corrupt racist cop. Upon release, he takes deadly revenge against the cops, lawyers, and thugs who got him busted, using a most unusual weapon… As much a parody of exploitation films as it is a proud piece of genre cinema, BROTHER CHARLES combines horror and blaxploitation tropes with stirring social subtext resulting in a drive-in movie unlike any other.
Fanaka’s second feature, EMMA MAE, tells the story of a naive young woman who moves from the Deep South to Watts. Initially finding herself at odds with her surroundings, Emma eventually gains acceptance from a local drug addict and dealer. But when he’s arrested and jailed, she plans a daring bank robbery to bail him out… Featuring a cast of mostly non-professionals and shot entirely on location in Watts, this uniquely subversive action film is an insider’s view of black, working-class LA neighborhoods.
Vinegar Syndrome brings these two landmark films to Blu-ray, newly restored from their original camera negatives.