Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Whiskey Mountain (1977)



          If you’re willing to trudge through this drive-in flick’s tedious first half, Whiskey Mountain eventually becomes a florid and violent Deliverance rip-off, complete with an unexpected drug angle. All the familiar clichés are here, from deranged hillbilly weirdos to gang rape, and the storyline is predicated on both stereotypes and the stupidity of protagonists who venture into places they know are dangerous. Yet there’s a certain vigor to the picture’s second half, with prolific B-movie actor Christopher George delivering most of his lines through gritted teeth and, in the finale, storming an enemy stronghold with a shotgun in each hand. Suffice to say, this picture was not designed to challenge viewers’ intellectual faculties. The story begins when two couples—Bill (George) and Jamie (Linda Borgeson), Dan (Preston Pierce) and Diana (Roberta Collins)—head into a Southern mountain range looking for a priceless cache of Civil War-era rifles. The couples have dirt bikes for transportation. Even though the behavior of locals grows more and more threatening as the couples transition from civilization to rural enclaves, they press forward, driven by adventurousness and greed. Per the Deliverance formula, things take a dark turn once the couples reach the vicinity of their ultimate destination, Whiskey Mountain, home turf for a gang of redneck criminals led by the menacing Rudy (John Davis Chandler).
          As noted earlier, the first half of the picture is almost interminable, with lots of repetitive musical montages showcasing dirt bikes as they zoom through forests. The scenery is pretty and some of the tunes (including a few originals by the Charlie Daniels Band) have spunk, but cowriter/director William Grefe has zero control over the film’s tone. Instead of conveying ever-present danger, Grefe wastes time on bland travelogue footage and flimsy buddy-humor scenes. However, once mysterious bad guys cut the cables on a rope-drawn raft over rough water, nearly sending one of the couples to their doom, the movie transitions to a livelier predators-vs.-victims style. The acting in Whiskey Mountain is never more than serviceable, and the plot machinations toward the end are so far-fetched as to be almost laughable. Nonetheless, it’s novel to see an evil-hillbilly flick that isn’t about moonshine or pointless savagery, since the villains in Whiskey Mountain wreak havoc in order to protect a profitable enterprise.

Whiskey Mountain: FUNKY

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