BLACK OAK CONSPIRACY (1977)

blackoakconspiracy_usposterTheme Song:


Jingo’s Song by Phil Everly (of The Everly Brothers fame).  It’s a good enough song, if not a little too upbeat for the film.  Everly had been writing songs for Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way… primate erotica film series at the time, and this has that same happy vibe. 

Interesting Dated References: Putting patches on your pants and/or shirts in order to extend their life, a doctor not charging you for a quick visit, giving your friend a pill so he can determine what kind it is and said friend takes said pill to a lab instead of immediately ingesting it. 

Best Line: “You look like something a wolf ate and shit over a cliff,” said by the sheriff to his wife who is drinking a Miller High Life. 

Social Context:  The Man.  What are we ever going to do about him?  He’s been ruining lives and taking advantage of the simple folk for years.  The police are on his side; there’s nothing we can do.  It’s time for one of us to stand up against this The Man. 

Summary: It must be nice to be moderately successful and return to your hometown to much praise.  Having squandered away all potential by being a resentful misanthrope elitist with a glaring sense of entitlement, I stopped returning home years ago as it was just too much of a downer.

But that’s not the case for Jingo Johnson.  Nope, Jingo the Hollywood stuntman gets word his mother is sick, and immediately heads home.  Everyone is pretty happy to see him.

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Well, everyone but some yokels and the sheriff.  Jingo visits his mother in the convalescent home and she’s basically dead.  In addition, his mother sold their family farm to pay bills. 

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Continuing his tour of imposing on people just because he’s back in town, Jingo visits his old friend Homer, played by Seymour Cassel.  I swear, that dude has the best face ever, and what a career.  A bunch of plot details are laid out about the sale of the farm, some mining company, etc.

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Jingo invites Homer (who is overly concerned with drinking) to go look at the old property.  Homer accepts, ” … as soon as I get my shoes on.”  Conveniently, Homer’s sister is Jingo’s old lover whom he abandoned when he went to Hollywood.

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Seriously, how many patches can you put on a pair of shorts?  There is more patch than original denim.  At some point don’t you tearfully retire them and buy some new shorts? So, Jingo and Homer (nice names) head out to the old property.  When they get there, the house is demolished and one of the mining big wigs and his moustache and his henchmen start a fistfight with Jingo.  The Sheriff shows up and Jingo is ordered to shape-up.  Jingo’s driving an El Camino with a gun rack in the back window!  Black Oak Conspiracy starts off good enough, but suddenly the entire middle is a giant, boring, mess.  Why?

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Because Jingo feels the need to try to rekindle things with his girlfriend, so there goes 10 minutes.  Sheriff is shown having an affair, there goes another 10 minutes.  Jingo is shown investigating, 10 more minutes.  Sheriff is shown conspiring with the owner of the mine, 10 minutes.  The son of the owner of the mine stalks and beats up Jingo a few times for another 10 minutes.

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Sure, cool cars, 70s decor, all the good stuff, but nothing is really making this movie jump.  And the subplot, which is about the mine owners making people sick so they go into the convalescent home they own and sell him their property in order to pay for their care, is ridiculous, even though it is purportedly “based on a true story.”

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Jingo makes love in a barn to the gal he left behind with such passion that his mother dies the next day.  That’s when Homer suddenly figures out the property was exchanged for convalescent care, and the pills his mother was taking were killing her.  At that moment they realize the sheriff and the mining company are all in cahoots.  The sheriff tries to frame Jingo by using his shotgun to shoot the business owner.

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Super-violent head explosion in the middle of this relatively subdued movie!  I can’t figure out why they would put the effort into making this look so violent when in the entire movie there hasn’t been any blood of note.  And a reminder:

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So, Sheriff kills a bunch of people and tires to frame Jingo.  This leads to a big showdown in the mine/quarry.  This gives a chance for the sound mixer to go nuts with the reverb like he’s King Tubby.

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Jingo wins the fight, turns in the sheriff, and runs off back to California with his new girlfriend, which is really his old girlfriend.  Black Oak Conspiracy was written by Jesse Vint, who also starts as Jingo.  Vint was famous for Macon County Line.  No doubt Black Oak Conspiracy was designed to cash in on the popularity of that film, but ultimately fails because of too much talking and not enough action.  Less talk, more rock.

Poster and Box Art: That poster is pretty intense.  Blood; a car on fire on a power line; another car through a store window; a chick dragging her lifeless legs around, blood, jeans so torn the inner thigh shows through.  It’s a lot to take in.  There’s some proportional weirdness going on with the car size, and also some questions about the window frame that’s supporting the black car.  Well, now that I look at it, I can’t quite tell how the left car is balancing on the pole, but if you just suspend your analysis for five minutes, it’s a great poster. 

Availability:   Black Oak Conspiracy was released on a double-pack DVD, although it seems to have gone out of print.  Rumor has it this will be coming out on a different double-DVD pack from Shout! Factory sometime soon, probably because it was directed by Bob Kelljan of Scream Blackula Scream, Rape Squad, and the Count Yorga series of films.

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