Produced after the TV miniseries Roots stirred up widespread interest in the history of slavery, this exploitation picture whose incendiary trailer was once dubbed a "race riot in a can" takes a surprisingly sober approach to the horrors of the slave trade. German aristocrat Max von Erken (director Jurgen Goslar) is exiled after he kills his politically connected opponent in a duel, and flees to East Africa with his beautiful wife, Anna (Britt Ekland). Although capturing and selling African slaves is illegal in almost all European nations, the slave trade continues to flourish. Arab slave trader Hassan (Ray Milland) and his African asscociate, Musulma (Ken Gampu), raid a small village, killing the children and old people, and marching the healthy young men and women towards the coastal slave market. The chief's son, Mazu (Don Jack Rousseau), escapes, but his fiancee Walika (Helen Morgan) is captured.
Having travelled about the steamer Southern Cross with two other European couples, a pair of missionaries and a pair of ivory importers, the von Erkens wind up at the Karimba trading settlement, run by Alex Mackenzie (Trevor Howard), whose iron-fisted hold on the region calls to mind Conrad's Mr. Kurtz. The travelers also include Steven Hamilton (one-time TV Tarzan Ron Ely), Mackenzie's nephew who's come to Africa hoping his uncle will help him find his fortune. Anna, whose marriage is deteriorating rapidly under the hot African sun, immediately takes notice of the handsome Steven. Mackenzie protects the villages near his Karimba, but several traders still operate openly, including Hassan, Mexican-born Enrico Da Silva (Cameron Mitchell) and the often spoken-of but unseen Villano. Shortly after hostile tribesmen attack the Karimba station, apparently looking for weapons, Mazu arrives seeking help in rescuing Walika. Mackenzie tells Steven and Mazu to ride out and his old friend Da Silva, but they're quickly captured by the same brutal slavers who abducted Mazu's people. Filmed on location in Zimbabwe, Slavers is disturbingly authentic in its depiction of the day-to-day brutality that characterized the slave trade in the mid-19th century, even though the misery of the captured Africans takes a back seat to the intrigues and tawdry troubles of miscellaneous badly behaved Europeans.
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- Released: 1978
- Rating: R
- Review: Produced after the TV miniseries Roots stirred up widespread interest in the history of slavery, this exploitation picture whose incendiary trailer was once dubbed a "race riot in a can" takes a surprisingly sober approach to the horrors of t… (more)