Jul 6, 2024

Ripping This Night A New One

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern

Super Soul Brother / The Oracle / Fatal Termination
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA

I woke up on Friday morning excited for one of my favorite nights of the year on the Mahoning calendar, but I went to bed wondering whether or not this is the year that AGFA's annual event has jumped the shark. 

The first movie of the night was a 1978 blaxploitation flick, and the only film that featured Wildman Steve in a starring role.  It has multiple titles, and the one that was advertised on the poster was Super Soul Brother, but the print that AGFA brought out to the Mahoning had a different title, which I have censored in the photo above.

Based on the advertisements leading up to this event, I was expecting something like a more comedic Shaft.  I'm sure that's what the filmmakers were going for, but if that's the case, they failed and failed hard.  This was basically the 70's equivalent of a minstrel show.  Every blaxploitation film I've ever seen has leaned into stereotypes, but this movie goes so hard in the direction of being outrageously offensive to get laughs that I found myself growing more bored with each passing minute.  Make excuses for it if makes you feel better, but this movie wasn't worth the time it took to thread it up in the projector.

The Oracle was the only movie of the night that I enjoyed, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it good.  It's the kind of schlocky horror flick that goes best with the occasional interruption from Joe Bob Briggs to add some humor and background information to what we're seeing on the screen.

I think I'm going to have to give this one a second shot when I'm in a better frame of mind. I was too annoyed to let myself really get into it.

The final movie of the night was a Hong Kong action / cop flick from 1990 called Fatal Termination.  The goofy title was probably the best part of it for me.  It's one of those movies that they genuinely tried to produce an action-packed dramatic story, but the acting in the dialogue are so silly that it becomes an unintentional comedy. I thought it was okay. I didn't love it or hate it, but this really isn't a genre of film that I get too heavily invested in, so take my lack of enthusiasm with a grain of salt.

And that's a wrap on Triple Ripper III, and it might end up being a wrap on my attending this event because it has gone steadily downhill in the years since it began.  The first Triple Ripper in 2022 was one of my favorite shows of the year.  Last year's Triple Ripper II wasn't as good as the first, but I still had a good time.  If Triple Ripper II was a step down from the original, Triple Ripper III fell down the entire staircase.

I won't go so far as to call it a terrible show.  The Oracle was good enough that it would have been a fun choice for a Patreon screening, and Fatal Termination was alright, even though it's not really a genre of movie that I have a whole lot of interest in, but Super Soul Brother was absolute trash, and the decision to start off a triple feature with that nonsense in 2024 is simply mind boggling.  I guess they wanted to go on chronological order, first with a movie from the '70s, then the '80s, then finish it off with a movie from the '90s, but I think this night would have gone a whole lot better if it started with the Oracle and ended with Super Soul Brother, or better yet, replaced it with another film altogether.  At any rate, I'm glad to have had a night to hang out with my friends on the lot, and I was glad that Susan and Anthony won the raffle.

Part of the fun of the Triple Ripper in previous years has been to go onto the lot knowing as little about the movies as possible and letting the night be a surprise, but frankly, AGFA has lost my trust in giving them the benefit of the doubt.  Assuming it comes back in 2025, I'm going to be doing as much research as possible on the films in the lineup before deciding whether or not to head out to the lot that night.