Sunday, 2 October 2022

Whiskey Mountain

Kill Hillbilly

Whiskey Mountain
USA 1977
Directed by William Grefé  
Arrow Films Blu Ray Zone B

Whiskey Mountain is the last of the movies featured in Arrow’s fine He Came From The Swamp - The William Grefé Collection Blu Ray box set. Now, I’ve had some fun with many of the movies in this set, most or probably all of which I would never have seen if it hadn’t been for this new collection. You can see from the poor state of some of these ‘restored’ movies that they must have been not very far away from ‘full on’ vinegar syndrome setting in on the film so, I’m grateful to some of the Blu Ray companies out there for rescuing these things before they disintegrate altogether (now if someone could do this for all the Flash Gordon serials etc, it would be a big help... the DVD versions aren’t good enough).

That being said, I think Whiskey Mountain, which I suspect is a kind of Deliverance rip off (I’m guessing since I’ve never seen the Boorman movie) is, I have to say, the least interesting film in this collection and the one I didn’t get much out of. Part of the reason may be the subject matter... families terrorised by hillbillies is right at the top of the list of movie types I really wouldn’t bother watching, right up there with home invasion movies (which I also, mostly hate).

The opening credits is of the two male leads taking part in a scramble bike race and Grefé leaves music off the soundtrack, preferring instead to catch the sounds of the engines during this sequence which sets up the two best buddies before following them into the main plot. This one tells of two protagonist couples, Bill & Jamie (played by Christopher George and Linda Borgeson) and Dan & Diana (played by Preston Pierce and Roberta Collins). They go off in their car, with bikes in tow, into the mountains of North Carolina to find the local myth of Whiskey Mountain because Jamie’s grandfather has drawn a map for her of where he and his friends hid gazillions of Civil War rifles and many cases of whiskey during the war. The antique fire arms are now worth around a thousand dollars apiece to the two if they can find the stash.

However, it turns out that the mountain is also being used by a bunch of drug dealers and hillbillies, who try to scare the family off when they are camping in the mountains by setting light to their cars and putting them at risk at various points. Our intrepid heroes eventually figure out they are being terrorised by human antagonists rather than nature biting back but not before they are all taken prisoner. The boss of the group, played by John Davis Chandler, who was so good in Grefé’s The Hooked Generation (reviewed here) and who also had a small part in Mako - Jaws Of Death (reviewed here), is going to kill them later but is cursed by bungling hillbilly gang members who play around and do stupid things when he’s not around. They rape the girls in a lengthy sequence where Grefé distances the audience from the action by having polaroids self develop on screen of what is happening to them as the soundtrack plays out the screams of the girls. It’s actually a fairly tame sequence by moderns standards but something about Grefé’s way of showing it but leaving it mostly to the imagination of the audience makes it a little unsettling, to be honest. But, as I said, I don’t really enjoy these kinds of movies that much.

Eventually the two guys escape and get away on their motorcycles, riding to the nearest town to call the sherif in to help them rescue the gals. Alas, the sheriff either doesn’t believe a word or is in league with the drug gang (it’s not quite made clear) and so the guys are forced to stock up (illegally, due to sheriff intervention) on guns and head back to the mountain where Dan is killed but Bill rescues the gals and kills everyone else. The film ends with a less than ambiguous freeze frame where the sheriff returns in a helicopter and you realise that Bill might not have many more seconds to live himself but it’s a recall to the time, in my mind at least, where Grefé finished off The Naked Zoo (reviewed here) with a freeze frame which suddenly throws the whole outcome of the film in question in the space of about a second or two before the credits roll.

And I wish I had more to say about this one but this one just didn’t light my fire like certain others in the box did. Grefé directed just one more feature film after this but not for another 18 years. I don’t know how successful Whiskey Mountain was but I’m guessing not all that. Looking at the timing of the movie, it was released into cinemas two months after George Lucas’ original Star Wars movie and, yeah, I think what Lucas unleashed onto audience expectations after this kinda changed cinema, for bad or good is something I’m still undecided on but, I really think films like Whiskey Mountain wouldn’t have stood much chance in the clamour from a  movie going audience infused with the spirit of space opera.

And that’s me done with Whiskey Mountain... the least of the films in this set and not one I’d probably recommend to most people unless they were studying this subgenre of movies. That being said, though, this whole Arrow Blu Ray package is definitely worth picking up because there are films here which, while not absolutely gobsmacking in their impact, are both very interesting and probably not very well known to the average cinema goer... at least not over here in the UK. So would definitely point cinephiles who think they’ve seen everything in the direction of this boxed edition because, yeah, some interesting takes on various kinds of movie making, for sure.

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