Over the years, Charles Manson has achieved cult hero status amongst people who are apparently willing to forgive (or forget, or just not give a damn about) the fact that he not only orchestrated the murders of nine innocent people (including 8-months-pregnant actress Sharon Tate), but also that he’s a white supremacist who wanted to bring about an apocalyptic race war between whites and blacks, dubbed Helter Skelter. In his dream scenario, Manson’s “Family” would ride out the war underground, and after the blacks won (due to schisms between racist and non-racist whites), they would prove incapable of ruling the world and would somehow just allow him and his handful of Family members to take over.
This plan is the jumping-off point for Honky Holocaust, a what-if movie set in an alternate reality in which Helter Skelter plays out as predicted — except that blacks prove plenty capable of maintaining society. With Manson dying 10 years into their stay, his right-hand man Dan Masucci (Lucas Fleming) leads the Family — including Manson’s daughter Kendra (Maria Natapov) — out of their bunker after 35 years underground to find an America that elected Angela Davis president in 1984, that has dollar bills featuring Nat Turner and that relegates whites (referred to derisively as “albies,” presumably short for albinos) to slums while sanctioning reverse Jim Crow segregation.
When Kendra is separated from her clan, she wanders into a white ghetto, where she’s almost raped by some hoodlums and then harassed by black cops. Then, she makes her way to a black neighborhood, where she’s threatened by black citizens, evicted from a segregated restaurant, beaten up, nearly raped again and eventually dumped back in the white ghetto, where she’s — yup — almost raped AGAIN.
A black local named Lucius (Constantine Taylor) rescues her from the latest would-be rapists and takes her in, his one day of kindness somehow overcoming 25 years of subterranean racist indoctrination, plus another couple days of horrible first impressions of the black community. She somehow needs Lucius to explain to her why whites and blacks don’t get along, and after a two-minute history lesson (plus a two-minute bang session), she’s ready to declare, “I’m just the baddest Negro bitch you’ve ever seen!” She abruptly switches sides and dedicates herself to stopping Dan from assassinating the mayor of San Francisco. (Just disregard the fact that everyone has Boston accents.)
Honky Holocaust is basically what would happen if Troma remade Black Like Me — a film that is as awkward and ill-conceived in fruition as it sounds in concept. It feels well-intentioned — trying to show white people how it would feel to be an oppressed minority — but the tone is all over the place, going from goofy slapstick splatter to serious-minded racial discourse to borderline pornography, undermining any attempt at a genuine message.
Even if the message were coherent, this movie would still be hard to like because of how it so gleefully embraces ugliness (and I’m not talking about the low production values and catatonic performances) — including rapes, castrations, murderers urinating on victims, pregnant women having babies cut from their wombs in graphic detail, closeups of maggot-ridden genitalia and child murder — but hey, it’s Troma, so I guess this is supposed to be “edgy” entertainment.
Taste aside, it seems like writer-director Paul McAlarney’s heart (which is white) is the right place, but I would never want him mediating any sort of racial discussion or offering any commentary on how to bridge the racial divide, because Honky Holocaust‘s “final solution,” as it were, seems to be GENOCIDE. Kendra points out that the white slums, full of downtrodden, persecuted Caucasians, are a “training camp for another Aryan Nation” — never mind that the only advocacy of white supremacy in the film comes from her “Family,” not from any of the ghetto dwellers — so she decides to go down there and just shoot every “albie” dead. The end.
Her role, aside from Grim Reaper, is apparently to wake up complacent blacks who’ve grown comfortable being in charge (and it seems all harbor a latent desire to kill Whitey) and remind them that 99% of white people are dangerous racists — except her, of course, despite her crazy-ass genes. So basically, the appropriate response to years of racist oppression is racist oppression in the other direction — including segregation, police brutality and even lynching. Screw Gandhi and MLK; give this man a Nobel Peace Prize!