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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Son of Ingagi (1940)

Son of Ingagi is the first science-fiction/horror film to feature an all black cast.  It is one of approximately five hundred "race films" which were made in the United States between 1915 and 1950 and was intended for black audiences.  Because these films were produced outside of the Hollywood studio system, fewer than one hundred remain.  This makes Son of Ingagi an important film to view if solely for historical reasons.
The story revolves around a young newly married couple and their encounters with Dr. Jackson [a black, female doctor in 1940!] and her monster sidekick named Ingina.  The story definitely draws its inspiration from James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) but its plot unfolds in its own unique way.  Thankfully no pitchforks or torches were involved in the making of this film!
If you are wondering why the monster is called Ingina but the film is called Ingagi, it appears that the movie takes its title from the 1930 film Ingagi which is about a tribe of gorilla worshipping women who are encountered by an explorer.  It was a successful exploitation film and presumably the producers of Son of Ingagi hoped to piggy back on its success.
This film was well acted through and though.  Furthermore, they accomplished quite a bit on what I assume was a very limited budget.  However, the film lacked emotional punch for me.  There are no real scares in it and I doubt any viewer would feel sympathetic toward Ingina, like they did toward Frankenstein's monster.  That being said, I'm glad I got the opportunity to view the film and appreciate the fact that it has been preserved for future generations to enjoy. 
Download a copy of the film from Archive.org
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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