Tag Archives: audio

“Zebra Killer” Who Inspired One of the Most Racist Exploitation Movies Ever Made Dies

zebrakillerby Legendary Lew

J.C.X. Simon, one of the men convicted of murder in San Francisco’s infamous “Zebra Killer” crimes of the 1970’s, was found dead in his prison cell. The cause of death is unknown pending an autopsy.  Along with Larry Green, Manuel Moore and Jessie Lee Cooks, Simon contributed in killing random victims between 1973 and 1976.

The sensation of this crime meant that, of course, low-budget exploitation filmmakers with moneybags in their eyes took notice. Enter William Girdler, director of such amazing 70s films as Sheba, BabyAbby and The Manitou.  While the murder cases were still open, Girdler went to work filling grindhouse movie seats with one of the most outrageous urban crime dramas ever made.

Known primarily as The Zebra Killer (although it’s also been released under the titles The Get-Man and Combat Cops), this movie starred Girdler regular James Pickett as an insane killer committing his crimes in blackface!

This causes confusion with the police, who have a tough time determining the race of the perp, even though it’s quite apparent the killer looks like he just walked off a minstrel show. To make matters worse, the black cop leading this investigation, Lt. Frank Savage (played by Austin Stoker), really should be investigated by internal affairs. He gets drunk on duty, has suspects written up on false charges and spends his time on the clock knocking back a few at the bar or at home doing a horizontal wiggle with his old lady.  In an attempt to make Savage look like a badass, Girdler succeeds in only making him bad, thus making the movie more racist than was probably intended.

Still, this is a film that’s worth watching as a mid-70’s action curio. It’s really too bad that Girdler died in a helicopter accident at age 44,  a victim of the wild and woolly era of 1970’s Filipino exploitation moviemaking. He held the promise of creating even more unbelievable grindhouse fare.

Here’s the trailer for the movie under the title Combat Cops. Notice how the race factor of the film is deemphasized in favor of ballistics:

Interview with Artist Dave Asher at Chicago Filmmakers

Dave Asher as Melody Nife in SCI FI SOL

Dave Asher as Melody Nife in SCI FI SOL

Friday Night VOLUME at Chicago Filmmakers kicked off it’s 2014 run with a January jam-packed with ray guns, video game car chases, super hero dance battles, and an album of music the Chicago Journal called, “a brilliant slice of bedroom pop, infectiously catchy and rough around all of the right edges”.  All of this, courtesy of featured attraction SCI FI SOL, the music video fantasy adventure.

The final screening packed an especially rare whollup, as it was announced that the original album of music that inspired and scored the movie would, in fact, not be heard.  Instead,  the movie was played alongside the upcoming new album by Sci Fi Sol creator Melody Nife.

Joseph R. Lewis interviews Dave Asher, AKA Melody Nife, AKA musical director of legendary Chicago comedy theatre iO and artist behind the music of Sci Fi Sol, the music video fantasy adventure.
Recorded live on January 31st, MMXIV as part of Friday Night VOLUME, a series programmed by Jake Weisman at Chicago Filmmakers.

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