Color, 1971, 90 mins. 12 secs.
Directed by Jack Weis
Starring Kathy McKee, Tim Kincaid, Robert Priest, Madelyn Sanders Code Red (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Though it looks and feels an awful lot like a cut-rate imitation of Mandingo, the regional oddity Quadroon actually beat that studio-made slice of slavery chic into theaters by three years -- even if Kyle Onstott's source novel was published in 1957 and most likely had a place on these filmmakers' bookshelves.
In pre-Civil War 1835 New Orleans, white-bread Caleb (Kincaid) is hired to teach a group of social in-betweeners called Quadroons, the female offspring of black female slaves and their white owners. Though he's basically been recruited to turn them into courtesans, Caleb falls for one of his pupils, Coral ('70s TV actress McKee), who hates him at first sight but suddenly falls for him when he's wounded in a duel. Realizing his feisty true love is about to be given away at a big cotillion, Caleb is forced into action that will determine their destinies forever.
Extremely talky and featuring performances better suited to local dinner theater, Quadroon doesn't muster up as much exploitation value as you might expect; the sleaze value really only consists of some demure (and pretty unflattering) topless nudity and a couple of mildly bloody fisticuffs and shootouts. The real surprise here is the fact that Caleb is played by a very young Tim Kincaid, who later went on to drive-in infamy directing fare like Bad Girls' Dormitory, Breeders, Robot Holocaust, and Riot on 42nd Street and, under the name of Joe Gage, a lot of adult gay films like Kansas City Trucking Co. The only other name that really carries any weight here is co-director Jack Weis, who continued to expose Louisiana's scuzzy underbelly in the VHS favorite Mardi Gras Massacre and the delirious Something Weird favorite, Crypt of Dark Secrets. However, horror fans should get a kick out of a minor role for none other than Bill McGhee, who played the one and only Sam in Don't Look in the Basement!
Code Red issued this film on DVD in 2010 (its apparent home video debut) under its short-lived Saturn Production banner, branded as another release in its dubious Septic Cinema line complete with a weird toilet-themed menu design. The disc features a pretty battered but watchable anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer (with severely windowboxed opening credits). Far from a pristine presentation, it's still passable if you're willing to go along with the whole scratchy grindhouse aesthetic. The only extra is a pair of radio spots taken from vinyl.
In 2017, Code Red went back to the title for a fresh HD scan from the same print, which looks more detailed but still bearing signs of damage and color fading. It appears this is all that's left of the film, so basically it is what it is; the DTS-HD MA English mono audio is ok for a theatrical print of the era. The radio sports are ported over, while the disc also includes trailers for The Black Gestapo, Brotherhood of Death, Top of the Heap, Jive Turkey, Mean Johnny Barrows, and Lord Shango.