CANNON MONTH 2: The Zebra Force (1976)

Oh man, this movie.

Lt. Claymore (Clay Tanner) had his face scarred, lost his voice — he has a robot-sounding one now — and his right arm lost thanks to Vietnam, but now that he’s back in the U.S., he’s gathered his old Army friends to either get rich quick or clean up the neighborhood or both — he makes them flush heroin down the crapper and says, We’re not in this to hurt society but to rid society of some of its scum and of course we reap the profit.” — by having them wear masks that make people believe they’re black when they’re white and rob the mob.

Yes, this is the plot of the movie.

To make it even stranger, the masks are really just black actors playing the role and then when the mission ends, they take off the mask and are white actors.

Then, a mob boss named Salvatore (Anthony Caruso) hires Carmine Longo (Mike Lane) from Detroit and teams him with his best assassin Charlie DiSantis (Richard X. Slattery) to take out the Zebra Force, which is as problematic a name — and movie — as you can get.

Writer, director and producer Joe Tornatore did acting and stunts before this movie, choosing it as his debut. He also made a sequel in 1987, Code Name Zebra, and also was behind Grotesque, one of the oddest horror movies I’ve ever seen.

Somehow, RC Cola paid to have their product all over this film. I can only imagine how they felt when they watched it. I’d like to imagine a packed screening room full of soda pop executives and their families just stunned into absolute madness.

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