Alabama’s Ghost begins with a long shot of a unknown cityscape late in the evening. While this is happening, a narrator begins to tell the story of what is about to unfold. We learn that Hitler assigned Dr. Caligula to interview a spiritualist named Carter The Great (a famous magician). It seems that Carter The Great discovered a rare super-substance known as Raw-Zaeta (which is similar to that of hashish). We also learn that if any mortal were to be wired to the deadly Raw-Zaeta, they could be used as a broadcasting catalyst to enslave all humans with the sound of a voice, thus becoming an unwitting tool for the most diabolical forces of evil known to man.
We’re then introduced to Alabama (Christopher Brooks), whom is a stagehand/manager at the San Francisco nightclub, Earthquake McGoon’s. At the clubs closing, Alabama is told to clean the place up and upon doing so discovers an old chest filled with props previously owned by Carter The Great. In the chest he finds a small box filled with what appears to be hashish (Raw-Zaeta) and an artifact that leads him back to Granny (Ken Grantham). After the two enjoy a bowl of the hashish, Alabama agrees to give the artifact to Granny and in return, Granny promises him great fame as a magician.
At this point, Granny tells Zoerae (Peggy Browne) to accompany Alabama, helping him along in his new found fame. It’s here we’re introduced to Otto Max (Steven Kent Browne), a manager of sorts, hired to guide the career of Alabama. Alabama is an instant success after his first show at Earthquake McGoon’s and soon after gets in bed with Zoerae. At the moment the two are about to do the nasty, the ghost of Carter The Great appears (E. Kerrigan Prescott). The ghost warns Alabama about the possible consequences if he continues along the path he’s on and Alabama accuses the ghost of being a racist.
I first heard of Alabama’s Ghost while listening to one of my favorite cult cinema podcasts, Outside The Cinema (highly recommended). Host Bill and Chris seem to love this oddity of a film (Bill more-so than Chris) as they often refer to it during their shows. So naturally I dug up a copy (because I sometimes do stupid things) and gave it a watch. Here are my thoughts.
Alabama’s Ghost was a real tough watch for me. I tried watching it multiple times and actually fell asleep twice before finishing it. I don’t make it a habit of doing this, but truth be told, Alabama’s Ghost is a real slow burn and was difficult to sit through. The film is all over the place in terms of plot and it had me saying “what the fuck” more than a few times. The film is slow paced, badly scripted, edited, acted and directed. And while the story seemed to make some sense (I THINK…), it takes forever to unfold and the payoff isn’t worth your time. I do give credit to director Frederic Hobbs for thinking outside the box and have to say that there are some surreal and bizarre moments in the film. But these moments are few and far between and even the creepy vampires can’t save this film from being a sleeping pill for those watching it.
Alabama’s Ghost was written, produced and directed by Frederic Hobbs. It was shot in and around the city of San Francisco and was released in 1973. The film is often mistaken as a blaxploitation film, but it doesn’t contain any of the stereotypes found in that sub-genre (hit-men, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, ethnic slurs, corrupt politicians or corrupt cops). It is in fact a horror movie, or a “super hip horror movie” if you will. Hobbs directed a total of 4 movies in his short film career, Alabama’s Ghost being his last and Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973 – also starring Christopher Brooks) being his more well-known. After working in film, Hobbs went on to become a successful sculptor and toyed around in other forms of art.
The history behind the real Earthquake McGoon’s, Carter The Great and Turk Murphy (all featured in the film in some way or another) did lend some realism to the film. Turk Murphy opens the film with his band as they perform ‘Alabama’s Ghost’ during the credit roll. Carter The Great is featured via ‘real’ Carter The Great posters and memorabilia and Earthquake McGoon’s was an actual functioning nightclub in the city by the bay.
Thoughts In My Head:
- Granny looks like a man
- Oh my, Granny is a man and possibly a vampire too
- Alabama looks good dressed as Napoleon
- I thought the hippie revolution died in the 60s
- Alabama’s act is selling out, why, I have no idea
- I love the funky 70s music
- I don’t think this is a racist ghost
- This film makes no sense whatsoever
- Alabama’s momma looks younger than he does
- Oh look, I had the same plastic vampire teeth when I was a kid
Favorite Badass or Badass Moment: Sorry kids, no badasses in this one
Favorite Boobs or Boobs in a Scene: Sorry kids, no boobs in this one
Favorite Death Scene: Sorry kids, no deaths in this one
Boob Count: 0 pair
Body Count: 0
IMDB Rating: 5.3 / 10
My Rating: 1.0 / 10
Final Thoughts: Alabama’s Ghost is at times surreal and very bizarre. This however isn’t enough to save the slow pace of the film, a film that often makes no sense whatsoever. I can only recommend it if you can see it at no cost and or have 90 minutes of time you’re willing to waste. And, oh, I have no idea why the IMDB has this film rated at 5.3 as there are far better films with lower ratings.