The Zebra Killer (AKA Panic City AKA Combat Cops) (1974)

From William Girdler, director of Exorcist rip-off Abby, comes an intriguing and — get this — original plot: a racist white man (James Pickett) named Mac, pissed off that his father was sentenced to the electric chair, decides to kill everyone involved with the conviction (no word on the mental state of his brother, Cheese). But in order to throw police off the case, he disguises himself as a black man. Apparently, all it takes is shoe polish and an afro wig to baffle the Louisville Police Department.

Hot on Mac’s trail is homicide detective, anti-hero, and all-around badass Frank Savage (Austin Stoker). Savage is basically Black Dirty Harry, or maybe he’s Brown Shaft; he back-talks his superiors, yells at his coworkers, and gives the ladies what they want. Plus he knows judo. Did I say that he’s hot on Mac’s trail? Make that lukewarm. See, Savage hates his job and would rather go drinkin’ ‘n screwin’ than work on solving a few silly murders. As he details his strategy to the police chief:

Chief: “What’s you plan now, Sargeant?”

Savage: “I think I’ll go home.”

Chief: “And then what, Sargeant?”

Savage: “Well, Chief, I just might get laid.”

Who’s the black Kentucky fuzz who wants to go home and get a buzz?…Savage!…Damn right. Although the possibility that the killer is disguising himself as a black man is brought up to Savage (The first clue should’ve been when Mac evades police by jumping into the river. Hello? Black people can’t swim!), it takes until much later for him to consider it as a viable option, as he instead busies himself by stealing porn magazines from an informant’s store. “Charge it to the pussy posse,” he tells the owner.

When Mac kidnaps his girl, however, Savage gets…mildly annoyed. Damnit, can’t the pussy posse rescue her? Thanks to Stoker’s hilarious who-gives-a-flip performance and Pickett’s maniacal evildoing, The Zebra Killer rarely ceases to engage, although you’ll have to look past the picture and sound quality. Let’s just say that it has yet to be re-mastered. Can ya dig it?

“Yeah, my refrigerator’s running. What’s it to you?”
“Dude, is this some sort of soul shake?”
“Affirmative Action, here I come!”
Do you really need a sniper scope from 5 feet away?


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