Don't You Like Daddy's Conk? J.D.'s Revenge (Arrow Video) Blu-ray review + Screenshots

J.D.'s Revenge is a fine example of the "possession" subgenre of horror that kicked off with The Exorcist in 1973. While the film isn't overtly scary, there are many thrills to be found.

The Killing Floor (46m 3s, HD)

Screenwriter Jaison Starkes, director Arthur Marks, editor George Folsey Jr, and actor Glynn Turman are on hand for this surprisingly long and thorough look back at J.D.’s Revenge. There are plenty of good stories to be had, like how Starkes got the job, the film’s original title (the title of this doc), and how the studio didn’t get the film (because they watched a black and white dup of the film and the flashback sequences are shot in a different lighting style). I was very surprised (happily) that this was a doc with a lot of meat to it. Definitely worth a watch.

Here Lies J.D. Walker (17m 42s, HD)

David McKnight, who played J.D. Walker, is interviewed by writer Steve Ryfle. This is a rare interview as McKnight doesn’t really do interviews. He talks about how he got the role (by scaring the director and casting director), his relationship with the director (they got on great, but the director didn’t really have to give McKnight too much direction), and how he wanted to make the role as authentic as possible (he designed the folds in the hat, carried a folding razor, and got a real conk in his hair.) I wish that this interview had been longer as McKnight has some great stories to tell and probably has more.

Gallery (1m 5s, HD)

No music, just a slideshow of images from the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2m 8s, HD, 1.33:1)

Trailer is in pretty rough shape, but it is still watchable.

Radio Spots (1m 49s, HD)

We get two spots. One is for the film and the other is for a double feature with JD’s Revenge and Coffy.

Arthur Marks Trailer Reel

-Bonnie’s Kids (3m 11s, HD)
-Bucktown (2m 17s, HD)
-Friday Foster (2m 38s, HD)
-Monkey Hustle (2m 20s, HD, 1.85:1, 4x3)
-A Woman For All Men (2m 27s, HD)
called Part-Time Wife in the trailer.

Arrow Video sent this to me as a screener so I will not be able to review the packaging. I can tell you that this is a 2 disc release, one blu-ray, and one DVD. Both discs feature the same special features. The cover is reversible with one side featuring commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips and the other side featuring the film’s original theatrical poster. There is also the usual Arrow booklet featuring writings about the film from Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies.

jds revenge.jpg

J.D.’s Revenge is presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and looks great. The picture has a natural feel to it with colors looking very accurate and skin tones just about right. There is no digital manipulation at all and there is a thin layer of grain. Blacks are deep and the flashback sequences are soft but right. There are a few optic effects in the film, but they blend well with the footage.

The film’s original stereo soundtrack is brought to life here. The dialogue is crisp and clear and there are no imperfections in the track. The film has a nice atmosphere to it and this track captures it very nicely.

Law student Ike is enjoying a night on the town with his friends when his life changes dramatically. Taking part in a nightclub hypnosis act, he becomes possessed with the spirit of a violent gangster murdered in the 1940s. Believing himself to be the reincarnation of murderous J.D., Walker, Issac launches a revenge campaign against those who had done ‘him’ wrong all those years ago…

I think that J.D.’s Revenge gets overlooked because so many people think that the film is a Blaxploitation film, but it isn’t. Well… not entirely. There are a few exploitative elements to it, but overall this is slow burn horror film about a spirit that wants revenge for a wrong that happened 30 years before the events of the film.

The film opens with a flashback of what happened to J.D. and his sister. We can sense right off the bat that we are not given the whole story and we can expect this scene to grow over the course of the film until we are given everything that we need to know.

Issac and his girlfriends, Christella, are our protagonists of the film and are a loving couple. Issac is a law student, but I couldn’t tell you what level of law he is in. I know that it doesn’t matter, but it still would have been nice to know. Anyways, the two take their two friends, who are also a couple, out for a night on the town for the couples’ first anniversary. Issac and Christella take their friends to a nudie bar which is something that I found to be really odd. I know that the film takes place in New Orleans in the 70’s, but it still felt odd to me, a child of the 80’s.

After leaving the nudie bar, the two couples are promised by another bar that they will be able to see something that they have never seen before… and with no cover charge, the two couples enter the bar. Here, I was expecting to something even weirder than two couple’s going to a nudie bar, but this is no nudie bar. It is a hypnotist show. Of course, Issac is one of the “participants” called up to the stage. The hypnotist does her thing and this is where the film starts to show us what it really is. During the performance, Issac starts to see weird images. He sees a cow getting its neck sliced with a lot of blood pouring out on to the floor. Issac shakes it off and goes about enjoying the rest of the night.

If you have seen any kind of possession film before, then you know where this film is going. Issac starts to see more and more images and starts to behave in a weird manner. He buys a fedora and has rough sex with Christella. Slowly but surely Issac is becoming J.D. Walker, the man from the beginning of the film. As slowly as Issac becomes J.D., we also start to see what is going on. I won’t give anything away, but the intended target of the J.D.’s Revenge isn’t who we think it is. The film tries to throw us a few curveballs, but for some reason we never buy them. At least I didn’t. I don’t why I didn’t buy them, but it never happened.

Because J.D.’s Revenge is a slow burn horror film, we are able to take in the characters and the atmosphere that the film lays out for us. We like Issac and Christella and we don’t want anything bad to happen to them. We don’t, however, like J.D.. He was a violent man who loved rough sex, possibly rape as well, and he carried a foldable razor blade, of which he was a fast draw. We want J.D. to get his revenge, but only because that will mean that he can leave Issac’s body and we can know that Issac and Christella are safe again. I do like the fact that the one getting the revenge is someone we don’t like. Usually it is someone who has a clean, or sort of clean, conscience, but here the guy was a bad guy.

I can’t talk about this film without talking about the performances, most importantly the one from Glynn Turman. Turman brings a sweetness to Issac that we don’t see in many male characters, especially ones from the 70’s. He is a guy who loves his girlfriend and wants to study and have fun. He loves his friends and his friends love him back. When he is taken over by J.D., Turman changes gears and begins to chew the scenery. He starts out slow with the hat and gradually adds things here and there that drives a harsh divide between Issac and J.D.. The changes are many times very subtle, like changing the way he says a few words or how he walks. By the time he puts on the flashy suit and has his hair conked, Turman is in full scene-chewing mode and he is wonderful. When he goes to the bar and picks up the woman, Turman is a totally different person. He has a leaning to his walk and he has become a pro with the razor blade. I loved the scene where Issac, as J.D. walks into the church to confront the man he thinks did the wronging. The way that Turman puts accents on words is amazing and is one of the standout scenes in the film.

J.D.’s Revenge is a really good film. There are a few scares in the film, including one with a broken mirror where I couldn’t tell how the effect was done. The performances, especially from Turman, are fantastic and elevate the film beyond a normal horror film. I can see how some may not like the film because how slow the burn is, but if you give the film a chance, you will find a smart horror film that should not be considered a Blaxploitation film because that keeps it from being considered a true horror film.

The Film8
The Picture9
The Sound8
The Features8.5
The PackagingN/A


J.D.'s Revenge is a very fun film, filled with great performance from Glynn Turman, Lou Gossett (before he changed it to Louis Gossett Jr), and Joan Pringle. The film also has a great look to it and the atomsphere is good. While the film isn't all that scary is still stands as one of the 70's most underrated films.

The blu-ray, from Arrow Video, is fantastic. The picture and sound quality is up to Arrow's already high standards and I was surprised by the ammount of special features. While the number of special features isn't that high, what surprised me was the fact that there is a 48 minute documentary about the film. This is a must buy if you are a fan of slow burn horror films, "possession films, or great acting.
Overall Score


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