Death Of A Snowman (aka Soul Patrol or Black Trash) is one of the more unique entries in the Blaxploitation sub-genre primarily due to its production during South Africa’s shameful apartheid era. It’s also one of the handful of foreign productions making it a flick fans of the genre will no doubt get excited about. It’s a release that sparked my interest particularly when I heard it was going to be released by the folks at Synapse.
The film itself concerns itself with the investigation of a vigilante group calling themselves “War on Crime” knocking off Soweto’s criminals. Steve Chaka (Ken Gampu) is a reporter covering these murders who gets more interweaved in the plot when the group starts contacting him to let him know who the next victims will be. Chaka teams up with a detective Ben Deel (Nigel Davenport) to uncover the truth on why these murders are being committed. Of course Death Of A Snowman is riddled with all those clichés and isn’t too bad of a story. I dug the Blaxploitation meets Magnum Force vibe of the flick and found it enjoyable enough despite its shortcomings.
Death Of A Snowman has some quite atrocious editing and dubbing at points that will either deter or add to your enjoyment of the film depending on where your tastes lie. Not completely poorly executed but more than a little patchy. But hey, I got more than a few laughs out of it so you’ll likely find yourself chuckling and shaking your head at some of the film’s more dubious editing room moments. Not really a lost classic but worth a look if you’ve thrashed the majority of the genre staples to death.
Those expecting a scathing political satire of South Africa’s racist policies of the time will be disappointed. Personally I was hoping this film would be used as platform to draw attention to just how messed up and unjust the country was during this period of history. Death Of A Snowman really doesn’t have a political agenda (considering the political climate of the time I doubt it would’ve been even remotely possible to satirize the government without serious consequences) and it’s just pure exploitation cashing in on the popularity of the Blaxploitation genre in the states. To its credit however it’s one of the few foreign entries in the genre that is straight up and modeled off the American films and not simply a case of creative retitling.
Death Of A Snowman is by no means essential viewing but is still a solid watch that will appeal more to those well versed in the sub-genre or perhaps media buffs/critics who’ll find its historic context interesting.
Synapse as usual have done a great job on the 1.66:1 widescreen transfer which will be immediately apparent for those of you who’ve only seen the film on VHS, sure it’s still a little rough but miles ahead of what’s been available in the past. Fans will be finally able to retire their shoddy bootlegs as this is likely the most definitive release this flick will get. Not much in the way of special features aside from a trailer but considering the obscurity of the film that’s to be expected.
Still this is a great release that die hard Blaxploitation fans will be happy to add to their collection.
DIRECTOR(S): Christopher Rowley | COUNTRY: South Africa | YEAR 1978 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Synapse | RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 1.66:1 | REGION: 1 | DISCS: 1