J.D.’s Revenge is a blaxploitation film, one of the few that goes into horror movie territory. There was Blacula, Blackenstein and Abby, an Exorcist knock-off, and this one continues the latter’s supernatural theme. It begins when a smart Black law student goes out for a night on the town with his friends. In a nightclub, lead character Isaac Hendrix (Glynn Turman, who had a role on The Wire but was also in Cooley High and many other blaxploitation classics—and was even considered for the role of Han Solo!) gets on stage with a hypnosis artist. Soon thereafter, he becomes the host for the spirit of J.D. Walker, a pimp killed in the 1940s.
As you might expect, he starts beating up his girlfriend and becomes a total monster. It’s an amusing 95-minute film—it’s certainly no stone-cold classic, but it’s a fun watch.
The other main actor you may recognize is Louis Gossett Jr., who has gone on to a solid career, including roles on many popular ‘70s TV shows but might be best remembered playing the alien in Enemy Mine. It was directed by Arthur Marks, who was also responsible for Friday Foster, Bucktown, Detroit 9000 and many others. Marks had started his career in the 1940s, when he was an AD on Lady of Shanghai, and did a bit of everything, including screenwriting and lighting. He went on from his blaxploitation period to direct in television, including episodes of Starsky & Hutch and I Spy. J.D.’s Revenge was his second to last film, with the final one being The Monkey Hu$tle, one of the only films where Rudy Ray Moore starred and didn’t have a lot of input.
Over the years it has been reported that Prince did the soundtrack for this film, because the composer is listed as Robert Prince, and he’s been confused for the artist formerly known (to his mother) as Prince Rogers Nelson due to the similar name.
On the disc there is an audio interview David McKnight on the disk, a making-of documentary put together by Arrow, and trailers for several of Marks’s other films, plus a booklet with an essay on the film by Kim Newman.