Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son-In-Law (1977)
By: Paul Ryan on November 3, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Dark Horse Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Mono. 99 minutes
The Movie
Director: Cliff Roquemore
Starring: Rudy Ray Moore, Ebony Wright, G. Tito Shaw, Leroy Daniels
Screenplay: Cliff Roquemore
Country: USA
External Links
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In the chaos of a (stock footage) hurricane in Miami, a hugely pregnant black woman gives birth. Firstly to a watermelon (???), then to an aggressive nine-year-year old boy (???). After chasing off his doctor, and swinging his fists at his dad, the boy's mother names him Petey Wheatstraw. Taken under the wing of an old guy, the boy is trained in martial arts - including how to chop watermelons with a samurai sword - but decides his calling in life is to become a stand-up comedian (???). Fast forward a few years and the grown-up Petey (Rudy Ray Moore) is packin' em' in with rhyming patter and crude put-downs of fat chicks.

This sits uneasily with his stand-up rivals Leroy and Skillet (Leroy Daniels and Ernest Mayhand), who aim to have Petey moved out of the way in order to protect their investment in a mob-backed night club – a precursor to the East Coast-West Coast rap feuds of the 90s, no doubt. When their goons attempt to rough up one of Petey's crew (in a scene featuring yet more watermelon) they accidentally kill a young boy instead. At the funeral, Leroy and Skillet up the ante by machine-gunning the entire procession, leaving Petey – and everyone else – dead.

Just passing by at the time is one Lu Ciphur (G. Tito Shaw), who takes ol' Petey down to his crib – Hell – and makes him an offer. He'll return him to life – along with everyone else – as long as he agrees to marry his daughter and bear him a grandson. The catch? Lu's daughter is UGLY. Really ugly. Or as Petey puts it, "this ho is so ugly she could scare a hungry bulldog off the back off a meat truck!!!!" But Petey wants revenge, so he agrees to it anyway, figuring he can weasel out of the deal later. Gifted with Satan's magic cane (and by magic, I mean it has a ball of tinfoil on the end) Petey uses the cane's powers to defeat his enemies, and do a bunch of good deeds. You know, saving a kid from being run over, converting a poor guy's crappy car to a brand new luxury ride, making fat chicks thin. The usual stuff.

Naturally, the devil comes by to collect, even throwing Petey a bachelor party/orgy with a bunch of female demons, and by demons, I mean black chicks with dimestore horns glued to their foreheads. Somehow Petey isn't bothered about cheating on his awfully tolerant girlfriend Nell (Ebony Wright), but whatever. Anyway, Petey's attempts to wriggle out of the deal – by doing such smart things as drugging a wino and sticking a mask of his face on said wino, or simply skipping town (again with the ???) - repeatedly backfire. Soon Lu Ciphur is sending his demonic hordes after Petey in a kung-fu-fightin' climax.

And by "demonic hordes" I mean a bunch of black guys in leotards and capes (???) wearing not only plastic devil horns, but what looks like papier-mâché mix on their faces.

Hang on; I think I just broke the question mark key…

If you're still reading by this point, it almost goes without saying that Petey Wheatstraw – The Devil's Son-In-Law is mighty stupid. Amateurish in every single way, this is a cavalcade of crude humour, rampant misogyny, black stereotypes (it's honestly hard to tell if all the watermelon bits are supposed to be ironic), terrible fight scenes and repulsive seventies fashion. Yet for all of this, the film is perversely watchable, just for its sheer deranged energy. As an intro to the work of the recently-deceased cult comic Moore it's probably worth a peek if you're really curious.
If the devil's daughter is one fugly beeatch, then this video transfer is her even uglier sister. A messy full-frame NTSC-to-PAL conversion with plenty of bleeding colours (particularly some retina-scorching reds) and frequent pixilation. Print scratches are frequent and noticeable. Sure, this wasn't an especially visually pleasing film to begin with, but the transfer only makes matters worse.
Better quality than the video, but still kind of muffled and scratchy in places.
Extra Features
Disco Godfather Trailer (3.31m, 4x3): While we don't get the trailer for the actual film on the disc, we do get this three-and-a-half-minute sample of Rudy Ray's 1979 cash-in on the disco fad. With lots of gaudy disco threads, roller boogie and Rudy Ray yelling his (copyrighted) catchphrase "put your weight on it" about ten times, this is comedy gold. Whether this one was intended as a comedy is rather unclear though…

Trivia Game:
For the three people in the world who've been dying to test their encyclopaedic knowledge of Petey Wheatstraw – The Devil's Son-In-Law, prepare to be let down. This quiz runs just five questions, and the last one isn't even about the film, but simply a reminder to buy the DVD of Moore's The Human Tornado.
The Verdict
Crummy, unfunny, yet bizarrely compelling, Petey Wheatstraw – The Devil's Son-In-Law is the kind of film Ed Wood might have made if he was into Blaxploitation. The quality of the DVD matches the quality of the film, so take that as a recommendation or condemnation accordingly.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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