Hell up in Harlem

Hell up in Harlem

Director: Larry Cohen, Janelle Cohen, Fred Williamson, Julius Harris

Cast: Larry Cohen, Janelle Cohen, Fred Williamson, Julius Harris

     
 

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MGM's DVD of Hell up in Harlem does a respectable job of dishing up this blaxploitation favorite for the digital video audience. On the technical side, the best element of Hell up in Harlem is its new, anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. It delivers the vivid colors and sharp detail that this comic book-styled film requires. This disc uses the film's

Overview

MGM's DVD of Hell up in Harlem does a respectable job of dishing up this blaxploitation favorite for the digital video audience. On the technical side, the best element of Hell up in Harlem is its new, anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. It delivers the vivid colors and sharp detail that this comic book-styled film requires. This disc uses the film's original mono soundtrack, which is occasionally muffled due to poor location sound, but otherwise does a serviceable if not spectacular job. A French language soundtrack is also provided as well as French and Spanish subtitles. In terms of extras, Hell up in Harlem serves up two trailers (a teaser and a full-length preview) and a full-length commentary track from Larry Cohen. The latter extra is guaranteed to delight exploitation buffs, because Cohen packs with tons of intriguing background details; highlights include Cohen revealing how he had to use a double for Fred Williamson in many scenes due to scheduling conflicts and how several sequences were invented on the spot to take advantage of available locations. This fun commentary both preserves an interesting bit of exploitation film history and also serves as a primer for aspiring filmmakers on how to do an action film on a budget. All in all, MGM's DVD of Hell up in Harlem is well worth a look for blaxploitation fans and a treat for fans of Larry Cohen's unique filmmaking style.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
This fast-paced sequel to Black Caesar delivers twice the action of that film, yet is only half as satisfying because it lacks the hard-hitting drama and balanced tone of its predecessor. The key problem is its script, which manages to be underwritten and over-plotted all at once. Hell Up in Harlem also suffers from weak villains; little time is devoted to the motivations of characters like Zach and DiAngelo, so they come off as simple cardboard villains merely designed to push the plot along. Fred Williamson and Julius Harris make a compelling father-son criminal team, but their relationship never gets the time it deserves due to the film's unnecessarily complicated plot. On the plus side, Hell Up in Harlem benefits from a slick funk score by Motown producers Freddie Perren and Fonce Mizell. Also, writer/director Larry Cohen does maintain a snappy pace (an action scene occurs about every five to ten minutes in this film), and works in plenty of odd, witty touches like a chase scene that involves its participants boarding separate planes to pursue each other across the country. However, the constant flow of bullets and fisticuffs becomes numbing after a while, because there is no emotionally involving story to back them up. As a result, Hell Up in Harlem feels like the cinematic equivalent of empty-calorie junk food. It's fun while it lasts, but is ultimately unsatisfying.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/16/2001
UPC:
0027616867841
Original Release:
1973
Rating:
R
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:34:00

Special Features

Director's audio commentary; Teaser trailer; Original theatrical trailer; English: mono; French: mono; French & Spanish language subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fred Williamson Tommy Gibbs
Julius Harris Papa Gibbs
Gloria Hendry Helen Bradley
Margaret Avery Sister Jennifer
D'Urville Martin Reverend Rufus
Tony King Zach
Gerald Gordon Mr. DiAngelo
Bobby Ramsen Actor

Technical Credits
Larry Cohen Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Janelle Cohen Director,Co-producer,Screenwriter
Franco Guerri Editor
Fenton Hamilton Cinematographer
Peter Honess Editor
Larry Lurin Production Designer
Fonce Mizell Score Composer
Freddie Perren Score Composer
Peter Sabiston Executive Producer
Alex Vanderkar Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Main Title/Credits [6:01]
2. "The Ledgers" [4:36]
3. Emergency Evacuation [5:39]
4. Like Son Like Father [6:03]
5. Cleaning Up the Rich [8:04]
6. Free At Last! [3:43]
7. An Appeal for Decency [9:18]
8. Trouble 3 Years Later [5:07]
9. A Family Divided [7:15]
10. Big Papa Goes Down [9:36]
11. Taking Back His Turf [5:58]
12. Eliminating Trash [4:46]
13. Flight Trouble to L.A. [8:18]
14. One Less Sinner [3:47]
15. Saving a Young Soul [4:43]
16. End Credits [1:47]

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