This Rebel Breed Reviews
I'd even seen the trailer for LOLA'S MISTAKE on several Something Weird comps, but I'd had no idea that I actually had the movie in my collection. Some days, I'm just an idiot.
By any name, THE BLACK REBELS is a great piece of juvenile delinquent cinema, right up there with HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. The film begins with the beating of a black student, the most recent of several that causes the cops to send in two rookie officers undercover at a local high school.
The high school is essentially comprised of three gangs--the white Royals, the Mexican Caballeros and the black Ebonies, all of whom hate each other. The Royals are led by Buck, a meanie who's running the reefer trade, but wants to break into the ethnic markets, even to the point of handing our joints to grade school kids.
Frank, one of the two cops (played by Mark Damon), poses as a half-Mexican, half-black student and gets involved with Lola (Rita Moreno!), a half-white, half-Mexican girl dating Jimmy, a white boy trying to get into the Royals. Lola's brother Manuel disapproves of Lola dating anyone outside of Mexicans, and beats up the cop for merely walking his sister home.
Buck ends up killing Jimmy, framing Manuel for the murder. Meanwhile, the drug kingpin involved wants to see a turf war between the Caballeros and the Ebonies, and the other cop attempts to secure Buck's loyal sidekick to become a partner in a drug scam.
With enough plot for at least three JD flicks, THE BLACK REBELS is practically overflowing with drama and dated angst. There's racism, drugs, beatniks, teen pregnancy, a black student being painted white, a white student being exposed as black, pool parties, rumbles, and some amazing dialogue. (In his attempt to join the Ebonies, the cop comes up with the brilliant question, "You need a *snap, snap* swinging cat?")
In addition, there's even a smattering of nudity to keep desperate heterosexuals awake, mostly in clips of one of the cops occasionally walking in on various couples going at it, having nothing to do with the plot. My guess is there were quick inserts, and made to be easy to remove depending on which terriroty the film was being screened in. There's even a bizarre toe-sucking scene that comes out of nowhere!
(THE BLACK REBELS, by the way, is the most misleading of the titles. Though the film deals with racism, the black gang is presented as the least rebellious. But that's the title Something Weird has it under.)
It's such a highly entertaining flick that it amazes me that it hasn't gotten any more of a cult reputation--the IMDB doesn't even list a single review for it! Fans of 60's JD flicks should definitely seek this one out. Watch for a young Dyan Cannon as "Wiggles!"
(Side note: Why have I never seen an interview with Mark Damon in any cult film mag? The guy's career is amazing, ranging from this to the Corman FALL THE THE HOUSE OF USHER to Radley Metzger's LITTLE MOTHER to YOUNG HANNAH, QUEEN OF THE VAMPIRES to Mario Bava's BLACK SABBATH to Troma's STUCK ON YOU!)