TOP OF THE HEAP
Director: Christopher St. John Run Time: 90 min. Release Year: 1972
Starring: Almeria Quinn, Christopher St. John, Florence St. Peter, Ingeborg Sørensen, Paula Kelly
“A genre-bending, fantastical psychological thriller . . . that has more in common with a European arthouse movie than an American B-picture.” – THE A/V CLUB
Written and directed by Black filmmaker Christopher St. John (SHAFT), TOP OF THE HEAP is a majestic melding of genre thrills, sociological rage, and psychedelic experimentation. George (St. John) is a cop in Washington, DC, and he’s proud to be one of the few Black officers on the force. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same. When George is overlooked for a promotion, he loses his handhold on reality and launches a personal vendetta against street crime. That is, when he’s not visiting alternate galaxies as an astronaut in his tripped-out dreams.
” “the old way is bullshit i don’t wanna live that way anymore.” – the very real socio-political conditions of a violent black cop who carries out the orders of the man (and yet still suffers racism and doesn’t actually receive the social power and money he expected) has his brain broken by the contradiction of his position and he attempts to escape that machine of all-too-predictable misery by retreating into fantasy. unfortunately it’s not that easy. very weary, angry and tragic piece of blaxploitation art cinema.” – josh lewis, letterboxd
“Total fucking scorcher. BAD LIEUTENANT + THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR ÷ THE NINTH CONFIGURATION. Yeah, really. Black cop’s psyche in open revolt as he realizes he’s become a willing tool of the system and swallowed whole a bullshit dream that was never intended for him. Where has this been all my life?” – matt lynch, Letterboxd
Restoration courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive.