As if his original productions weren’t bad enough, schlockmeister Al Adamson periodically repurposed old footage—from his own past films and from productions for which he acquired the rights—to swindle unsuspecting grindhouse audiences. Bogusly marketed as a brand-new blaxploitation picture, Mean Mother began its existence as Run for Your Life (1971), a Spanish-made adventure flick about a Vietnam deserter who becomes mired in various criminal enterprises. Adamson bought the movie, then shot about 30 minutes of new scenes featuring Dobie Gray, a singer who scored a pop hit the previous year with “Drift Away,” as a second deserter. (Squandering any tie-in opportunities, the singer is billed here as “Clifton Brown.”) Adamson spliced material from the two productions together and created a disjointed hybrid film. Mean Mother starts and ends with the new material, which has a quasi-blaxploitation feel if only because Gray and Marilyn Joi, the leading lady in his sequences, are both African-American. Every so often, Adamson cuts to the Spanish material, which has a totally different vibe. The new scenes are fast-paced and sleazy, whereas the European scenes are leisurely and slick. Tracking the storyline is pointless, though the overall gist has something to do with the deserters trying to raise enough money to leave Rome, where they landed after fleeing Southeast Asia, and relocate to Canada. There’s also some nonsense about drug deals and kidnappings, but, really, everything in the plot is an excuse to trigger fight scenes and sex scenes. Adamson satisfies low appetites with nudity and violence, but the deeply uninteresting Mean Mother disappoints in every other regard. As for Gray, the fact that he only notched one more screen credit—14 years after Mean Mother—correctly indicates that acting was not among his gifts.
Mean Mother: LAME