As mentioned, Drum is an exploitation picture and on that basis it earns a blue ribbon. There's nary a scene that doesn't feature sex, violence or nudity. What's rather amazing is that the script manages to pull in all the exploitation elements without interrupting the narrative flow. Everything about Drum is lurid and over-the-top, but the script is a solid, logical piece of writing. The scriptwriter also earns points for the dialogue, which is pulpy to the max and not afraid to sound ridiculous. Some credit also has to go to the cast. Pros like Warren Oates, John Colicos, Yaphet Kotto and Royal Dano tackle their lurid characters with gusto and almost manage to compensate for "actors" like Ken Norton. Lastly, the film deserves credit for an ending that adheres to reality (the blacks are wiped out) and also allows for some ambiguity. Hammond (Warren Oates) is in most respects a thorough villain, but a brief scene earlier in the film involving the beating of a slave shows us that a part of him (a very small part) is conflicted about treating humans as chattel. In the last scene in the film Hammond chooses to let Drum escape rather than gun him down as he would have every reason to do as white slave owner. It's a surprising ending for what's otherwise a pretty conventional film.
The strengths, relatively speaking, of Drum do a good job of highlighting even further the deficiencies of Django Unchaned. Tarantino's script is a mess: uneven in tone, overlong, and stuffed with gratuitous scenes and dialogue. Drum's script isn't going to win any awards, but it's model of efficient storytelling, and when the word "nigger" is used it's done in a natural, honest way. When Tarantino writes "nigger" in his scripts I always get the feeling he does it to prove how naughty he is. An odd thing about Tarantino is that as much as he's a devotee of genre/exploitation pictures, he's also a prude. Quentin is happy to show people being riddled with bullets or saying "nigger" with every breath, but nudity? sex? God forbid! Miscegenation was the primal fear and fantasy of Southern society, but it doesn't exist for Tarantino. The ending of Django stands in stark contrast to that of Drum. In Tarantino's wish-fulfillment fantasy world (see Inglourious Basterds for further evidence) the black hero rides off into the sunset with his white enemies all slain, his girl by his side, and a horse that can dance. Drum runs off into the night with nothing but a look of terror on his face. No prizes for guessing which film is more historically accurate.
I'm not going to say that Drum is a good film, but for the demographic it was intended for it succeeds brilliantly. And if it reminds you in any way of Django Unchained that's because Tarantino seems to have