Alabama's Ghost (1973)

A few weeks ago I reviewed Godmonster of Indian Flats, an ignored B-movie that I felt showed great potential. So much that I decided to seek out the director Fredric Hobbs' other work. I discovered that he was both an artist and an experimental filmmaker. Godmonster of Indian Flats may not be considered a masterpiece, but it's far from your every day low budget 70's monster flick. It has this bizarro flavor and a stark sincerity that struck my fancy. I found out that the same year Hobbs made Godmonster, he made a blaxploitation horror movie called Alabama's Ghost. Naturally, I tracked it down immediately.

Alabama's Ghost teeters between avant-garde and nonsensical. The movie starts with a dixieland jazz band performing the title track while the end credits role. The story revolves around a black handyman named Alabama who accidentally drives a fork lift through a wall in the basement of the club he works at. He starts exploring and finds several chests full of a dead magician's belongings. Amidst cloaks, cards, endless handkerchiefs and other magic gimmicks he also finds the Great Carter's stash of mystic ganja. Apparently the Great Carter had been developing a special hash to control minds. In it he finds an address to a little old lady's shack, the supposed sister of the Great Carter. He decides he's going to go and blackmail her for the use of Carter's magic garb so he can get rich and famous. At no point during this movie does Alabama seem like he has any clue what's really going on, much like the audience. The old lady turns out not to be an old lady at all. She's actually the leader of a world wide vampire cult.

To fulfill their own plan of world domination they need Alabama's body for...what, I'm still not quite sure. At one point this phrase is uttered...
"Doctor they have a twin Frankenstein. They're trying to kill Alabama!"
So I think that may have something to do with it. I'm getting a little ahead of myself though. So Alabama carries on his plan of mixing magic with a prog rock. He and his band tour the country and he becomes rich and famous. Unfortunately he keeps being haunted by the ghost of the Great Carter.

One of Hobbs' movie sculpture cars also seen in his impossible to find documentary "The Trojan Horse"

There was lots of wackyness to please my sensibilities. It's a wild, psychedelic, freakshow from a truly underrated auteur. I was happy to see almost the entire cast of Godmonster of Indian Flats starring in this. I especially liked Peggy Browne, who played Zoerae, the vampy broad who seduces Alabama. Her performance stood out in Godmonster and it stood out here too. She delivers her lines with allure and I really dug her presence. The actor who played the Great Carter, E. Kerrigan Prescott is my favorite though. It's obvious that he's a great thespian but loves to ham it up. He did mostly TV, but I was thrilled to see he was also in Arthur Crabtree's Fiend Without a Face. His character was the most fascinating part about this movie to me. I could be reaching here, but I got the impression that he was intended to be an homage to Dr. Mabuse, by using mind control from beyond the grave. Even kind of looks like he did in Testament of Dr. Mabuse...


Alabama's Ghost is baffling, bizarre and purposely politically incorrect, but to a select few those are precisely the reasons to watch a movie like this. There's much more that I haven't mentioned because I truly feel this is a film that garners repeat viewings. Jam packed with the good stuff, Like Nazis, an elephant, and voodoo mysticism. This movie is a gluttonous nutty free for all and is a beautiful reward for actually enjoying Godmonster of Indian Flats and doing the footwork to find more like it. I still haven't been able to find any info on Hobbs' first film, Troika being available in any form, but I'll keep trying. Now as soon as I have the funds I'll just have to make the leap and buy Roseland and put this Hobbsian triple feature to bed.


  1. you should see it! it's confusing so it's kind of hard to follow sometimes, but it's definitely a little "weirder" than Godmonster, with a much higher potential for cult status. Worth a look!

  2. "Alabama's Ghost" is one heady brew--overpacked, overplotted, overwrought and absolutely delightful in every particular. I love this film--it's so full of bizarre ideas and abrupt, often jarring changes in tone, yet it still presents at least the illusion of a cohesive and appealing vision even if we're not quite sure what that vision is. The cast give wonderful performances and are clearly having the time of their lives. I particularly love Christopher Brooks as Alabama. He only appeared in a handful of films, most notably jazz bandleader Sun Ra's pseudo-Egyptian afro-naught fantasy "Space is the Place" (which I highly recommend for lovers of the offbeat 70's weirdness such as yourself). It's gratifying to see this film taken seriously as an expression of outsider cinema art. I just stumbled upon your blog today and I've been going through it (backwards) all evening. I'm enjoying it immensely! Cheers to you...I'll be looking up quite a few of the movies you've profiled.

  3. I just watched this again intending to review it for submission to a list of the weirdest movies of all time. I must say I noticed more depth to the story and imagery on a second viewing. The elusive "cohesive vision" of director Hobbes seems to include a religious/messiah allegory but it is blurred between the characters of Alabama and Carter's ghost, as if Carter was unable to complete his divine mission to destroy the vampire cult and has knowingly enlisted Alabama to do the honors. Alabama isn't really up to the task and requires the intervention of the voodoo witch doctor and his robot double. Some hero! I am wondering if there wasn't some sort of commentary against mixed race relationships as well. Carter's ghost interrupts the consummation of Alabama's relationship with Zoerae and Alabama repeatedly refers to him as a "racist" ghost. Later Alabama seems to find happiness with the unnamed escapee from the vampires' den who tips off the witch doctor about the Alabama double and the cult's plans and who is the only black woman in the film apart from Alabama's mother. The vampire cult, who are, after all manipulating and using Alabama as a sort of psychic slave, wear black capes and hoods which look suspiciously like KKK uniforms. It's another bit of subtext that's hinted at enough to make you wonder but vague enough to possibly be the viewer grasping at straws for some kind of meaning. Carter is using Alabama, too, and there's a nice bit of symbolism in Alabama frantically searching for an escape from Zoerae and finding he's utterly surrounded by the giant Carter posters. Carter the Great, by the way, was a real Magician who really did die in India (albiet in 1936, not 1935 as they indicate in the film)...the many posters were genuine Carter memorabilia. The prog-Jazz band "Loading Zone" was a very popular opening act in the late 60's (opened for Cream and other rock luminaries) but disbanded in 1971 after their second album tanked. Since Alabama's Ghost was released in 1973 I am assuming it took Hobbes several years to complete.