Back in the 1920s-50s, many movie theaters in America were segregated. So, black patrons either weren't allowed into the places or they were forced to sit up i the balcony. As a result of this, many enterprising black entrepreneurs opened up black-only theaters as well as movie production companies. The problem was economic power...the production companies had very little money and couldn't afford better equipment and staff. As a result, most of these race films are, at best, second-rate. A few of these today are still very watchable...but you need to excuse the amateur acting and production values.
"Drums o' Voodoo" is one of these race movies. And, like many of the film, they were shown and re-shown over the years...and often the titles were changed to try to hide that the movies were not the latest products. It's also known as "Louisiana" as well as "She Devil". And, in the process, the films were often trimmed. The Alpha Video DVD apparently only runs 48 minutes. The YouTube copy I saw ran 52 and IMDB lists the run time as 70 minutes.
Auntie Hagar (Laura Bowman) is the local voodoo priestess in this Southern community. And, like voodoo typically is, it's a combination of traditional Christianity and African folk religion. Hagar and the Preacher have like interests...to keep the local community safe from evil. And, in this case, the evil is a pimp who has come to town to corrupt folks...in particular Myrtle, a woman whose mother came to an early death. And, according to Hagar, Myrtle will suffer the same fate if she isn't careful. That's also why she recommends her grandson NOT marry Myrtle. She also says the pimp will be blinded unless he leaves town! But the grandson as well as the pimp don't believe in voodoo and you wonder if the old woman's prediction will come true or not.
"Drums o' Voodoo" is a pretty bad film...and pretty silly. The acting is often poor and the dialog ain't so hot, either! But it also is quite entertaining because of its weird plot AND Laura Bowman's over-the-top performance. She's quite enjoyable as the priestess! But regardless, it's also a fascinating portrait into 1930s Black America...sort of like a time capsule...albeit a bad one!
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