J.D.'s Revenge (1976)

Genres - Drama, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Blaxploitation, Melodrama, Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - May 31, 1976 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This unique crossover between the possession-horror film and the blaxploitation film arrived a little late for the commercial cycles of those genres but it holds up as a potent little piece of work. J.D.'s Revenge remains worthwhile because it concentrates on craftsmanship instead of trying to achieve wild effects. Jaison Starkes' script evokes a convincing streetwise flavor and downplays the story's supernatural angle to focus on the psychological toll the possession takes on Isaac and the people around him. Appropriately, director Arthur Marks uses style where necessary (the use of color-tinting to bookend the flashback scenes is particularly effective) but keeps his directorial flourishes in check so the story's twists and turns can speak for themselves. This approach pays dividends thanks to intense yet down-to-earth performances from a talented cast: Lou Gossett, Jr. brngs the proper notes of remorse and regret to his hustler-turned-preacher character and Joan Pringle is quietly affecting as the girlfriend who finds herself at the mercy of Isaac's sudden personality changes. However, the movie truly belongs to Glynn Turman, who gives a gutsy performance as Isaac: he brings a palpable sense of pain to the shifting between persona, giving a unique physicality to the character's possession, and this makes him truly scary when he gives sway to the strutting, mercurial persona of J.D. Walker. All in all, J.D.'s Revenge is primarily of interest to cult film fans but they are likely to appreciate the film's adult, effective treatment of its story.