Mandingo became a big box office hit in 1975. Even as the critics rejected it, audiences flocked to see a well-made and powerfully acted film that explored the racially charged history of the Old South in ways previously unimaginable. A sequel was a virtual lock after such a unique success: the producers knew there was a built-in audience and there was a vast array of literary follow-ups ready to be adapted. Drum was the result and sadly it’s a chaotic, lurid mess that replaces the subversive qualities of Mandingo with pure shock effects. In short, it’s exactly the kind of trashy, irresponsible potboiler that the film version of Mandingo was accused of being.
That said, Drum had one hell of a trailer, a tight spot that ran under two minutes and exploited the content and production values of its parent film to great effect. It begins with some narrated title screens to set things up. It testifies to the massive success of the Mandingo film, including a claim that ten million people saw it, and then promises a new film continuing the story that will go even further. It makes pointed use of the words “decadence” and “depravity” along with the fittingly lurid choice of verb “penetrate” to describe how it will go about its work. These titles are capped with a killer tagline: “Mandingo lit the fuse… Drum is the explosion!”
The footage begins with a killer quartet of images that punch the viewer right in both eyes: we see a few hundred chained slaves being prepared for sale, a lusty mistress taking the title slave (Ken Norton) to bed, some no-holds-barred brawling and a slaver’s mansion exploding with fire. The next snippet of narration promises the viewer a story that will cater to the lustful urges and their thirst for brutality with equal vigor as we see a montage of images where slaves are either treated as objects of lust or whipped and hung up in chains.
As that section comes to end, the narrator also promises “revenge!” This leads us to a powerful segment where the narrator is replaced by an angry monologue from a slave portrayed by Yaphet Kotto (he gives the film’s best performance). As he decries the way the master reduces slaves to obedient dogs and destroys their families, we see a group of slaves busting into a master’s bedroom to attack him. A counterpoint is provided by a segment with slavemaster Hammond Maxwell (now portrayed by Warren Oates), who grimly declares he knows nothing of culture.
This leads into a quick rundown of the cast, which also includes such notables as Pam Grier, John Colicos, Isela Vega and Paula Kelly alongside returning Mandingo alumni Brenda Sykes and Ken Norton. The final twenty five seconds or so is devoted to slave revolt footage: slaves stampede the mansion with torches, mistresses of the house get manhandled and a repetition of the tagline – “Drum is the explosion!” – is accented by a big fireball of an explosion at the mansion’s entrance.
The resulting trailer effectively exploits the carnage and lust of Drum but manages to do so in a more focused, targeted manner than the film itself. There’s none of the subversive cleverness of the Mandingo trailer here but it gets the job done in the best exploitation film trailer style.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Drum, click here.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Mandingo, click here.
To read Schlockmania’s “Top Trailers” entry on Mandingo click here.
And to read Schlockmania’s review of Paul Talbot’s excellent history of the Mandingo series, Mondo Mandingo, click here.