Whiskey Mountain

As anyone who read his post yesterday knows, fellow Morlock Jeff is in Colorado. At the moment, he’s here in Boulder. I told him I’d give him a semi-private screening in the backyard of anything he wanted to see from the 16mm film collection that I have access to, and he picked an obscure film called Whiskey Mountain (1977) directed by William Grefé. So that’s what we saw last night. Tag line: “Whiskey Mountain … Where you can lose your life – or your mind!” It’s in the Deliverance-mold of city-slickers who get terrorized by some crazy mountain folk, but instead of canoes they’re on motorcycles, and instead of Billy Redden (“the banjo boy”) playing Eric Weissberg’s arrangement of Dueling Banjos we have the The Charlie Daniels Band. And instead of… well, let’s just say there are a lot of “instead of’s.” The good news was that it wasn’t too faded, and also in CinemaScope!

Looking to IMDB for info, it was interesting to note that there were no external reviews, and only seven user reviews. As with anything, user reviews are a mixed bag and I provide the following two examples as an interesting contrast in style and approach.

According to “Vertigo-27″ from NC, Whiskey Mountain gets one star (out of ten) and is…

One of the worst movies ever made… If you can get through this movies without falling asleep, then you are doing pretty good, considering no matter how hard you turn up the volume you cant hear what the ‘actors’ (?) are saying and if you can acually see whats going on from the terrible film (I mean hell if you cant find anything that works better… use a Home movie camara… AT LEAST YOU CAN ACUALLY TELL WHATS GOING ON!)

It is beyond my imagination how people get a movie like this to slip through the cracks, and escape on video… and further more.. how do people making this not know how terrible it is… good god… (!)

After what I have just told you… If you are waiting for me to give you a summary of this piece of trash movie, there is nothing to tell… a group of campers on motorcycles get lost in the woods and a bunch of people terrorize them… or somthing to that… whats more so an action movie than a horror… this ‘movie’ (?) is of NO interest… if someone acually likes this I litterally feel for you….

Absolute Trash… not even one of those cheap funny flicks to watch go rent.. ‘Plan 9 From Outerspace’ and have a ball

The excerpt above has been cut-and-pasted as-is with no effort to correct missing punctuation. Now let’s contrast that user review with one from Woody Anders (from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left), who gives it seven stars and says:

Four motorcyclists — rugged Bill (solid Christopher George), easygoing Dan (likable Preston Pierce), sassy Diana (the always radiant Roberta Collins), and feisty Jamie (a lively portrayal by Linda A. Borgeson) — run afoul of a gang of evil redneck pot farmers while searching for hidden treasure in the deep woods. Director William Grefe, working from a blah script by Nicholas E. Spanos, crucially fails to build much in the way of tension and allows the narrative to plod along at a too leisurely pace for the first hour. Moreover, the mild PG rating ensures that this movie never completely acquires the hard, gritty edge it truly needs to work and nothing much happens until fifty minutes into the story. Fortunately, things perk up considerably in the final half hour with a dynamic burst of thrilling and well-staged action that’s topped off by a genuinely startling surprise bummer ending. The veteran cast of familiar B-pic faces do their best with the mediocre material: George, Pierce, Collins, and Borgeson make for appealing leads, perennial bad guy thespian John Davis Chandler does well as slimy and nasty head hillbilly Rudy, Robert Leslie almost steals the whole show with his hilariously kooky and energetic turn as a crazy old hermit, and William Kerwin is suitably hateful as the seedy Homer. Julio C. Chavez’s sunny cinematography makes nice occasional use of strenuous slow motion and boasts lots of breathtaking shots of the gorgeously verdant sylvan scenery. Charlie Daniels’ twangy and harmonic score does the rousing trick (Daniels also wrote and sings the catchy theme song). A strictly passable time-waster.

Between these two reviews there’s really no competition. I think Vertigo-27 hasn’t seen too many films if they consider Whiskey Mountain “one of the worst movies ever made.” Trust me, it’s not. It appears Vertigo-27 also reviewed the film from some crappy VHS or DVD which, I’m guessing, was probably cropped, because Vertigo-27 is clueless about CinemaScope (which is quite a bit better than, say, Super 8 used for home movies). Also, giving it one star smacks of being a punitive move rather than a well-reasoned one – this is the kind of thing that separates any Joe Shmoe hitting the keyboard in anger from a seasoned reviewer. Most damning of all, however, is Vertigo-27′s appalling syntax, riddled with a variety of punctuation errors and grammatical maladies. It is, of course, hard to gauge the age of any writer from a simple excerpt posted on the internet, but my hope here is that this person is still working their way through middle school with a decent English teacher on the horizon.

Woody Anders, on the other hand, clearly knows what he is talking about. The fact that his location is tagged as The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left is a give-away. Whereas Vertigo-27 simply dismisses the actors by putting that word in quotes, Woody actually knows the names of each performer and provides an accurate and concise assessment of each individual performance. It’s a well-crafted paragraph, and the seven-star rating is fair and judicious.

Fair warning: of the screen shots that follow, the last one I show is, quite literally, the last shot of the film. A total spoiler. But what a great image! I couldn’t resist.

Having now seen Whiskey Mountain, I can safely side that Woody’s review really nails it down. For me, the three highlights were a surprisingly disturbing montage of Polaroid snapshots depicting the women being violated (and I’m thinking this was a creative attempt to get around the subject within the limitations of a PG-rating), the “gorgeously verdant sylvan scenery” captured by cinematographer Julio C. Chavez (who also edited, and collaborated with William Grefé on many other films), and – yeah! – that “surprise bummer ending” was pretty darn stunning! I’d say my only disagreement with Woody is that Whiskey Mountain is not a “passable time-waster,” as my time was not wasted.

At bottom are some related links. Fellow Morlock R.H. Smith has covered William Grefé in a previous post, and you’ll note he’s also a Facebook friend of the page for THEY CAME FROM THE SWAMP: The Films of William Grefé – which includes a post on the passing of John Davis Chandler (who plays a dangerous marijuana dealer in Whiskey Mountain).

http://streamline.filmstruck.com/2008/08/12/sidewinders-and-trousersnakes-the-cinema-of-william-grefe/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/THEY-CAME-FROM-THE-SWAMP-The-Films-of-William-Grefe/145926671287

http://www.youtube.com/user/BallyhooMotionPics#p/c/12341FA1BA08FD63/6/Yna5PtwVtmQ

9 Responses Whiskey Mountain
Posted By Suzi : September 12, 2010 4:34 pm

Wow, wish I could have been there, too. Plus, I mention John Davis Chandler in my post for tomorrow. What are the odds?

Posted By Suzi : September 12, 2010 4:34 pm

Wow, wish I could have been there, too. Plus, I mention John Davis Chandler in my post for tomorrow. What are the odds?

Posted By Jerry Kovar : September 13, 2010 8:10 am

The John Davis Chandler love fest continues….three minutes ago I emailed a friend to catch MAD DOG COLL on TCM Wednesday with one frightening performance by Chandler. Great stuff.

Posted By Jerry Kovar : September 13, 2010 8:10 am

The John Davis Chandler love fest continues….three minutes ago I emailed a friend to catch MAD DOG COLL on TCM Wednesday with one frightening performance by Chandler. Great stuff.

Posted By morlockjeff : September 13, 2010 9:46 am

Yeehaaa! I loved the fact that this was filmed in Florida. Are there any mountains in Florida? I think not. This is now one of my favorite good-bad dirtbike movies, a limited genre that includes the superior RACE WITH THE DEVIL. I love the schizophrenic tone of WM that goes from a polaroid-snapping gang bang to a lyrical scene of the two heroes riding their hogs through the beautiful landscape, accompanied by rollicking banjo music. And then there was that suspenseful panties stealing scene….thanks for a memorable outdoor screening!

Posted By morlockjeff : September 13, 2010 9:46 am

Yeehaaa! I loved the fact that this was filmed in Florida. Are there any mountains in Florida? I think not. This is now one of my favorite good-bad dirtbike movies, a limited genre that includes the superior RACE WITH THE DEVIL. I love the schizophrenic tone of WM that goes from a polaroid-snapping gang bang to a lyrical scene of the two heroes riding their hogs through the beautiful landscape, accompanied by rollicking banjo music. And then there was that suspenseful panties stealing scene….thanks for a memorable outdoor screening!

Posted By TCM's Classic Movie Blog : November 28, 2010 12:40 pm

[...] screenings in September – a rare print of WHISKEY MOUNTAIN; here is a link to the post -http://moviemorlocks.com/2010/09/12/whiskey-mountain/). I also believe that a communal film experience, minus the cell phones, texting and other [...]

Posted By TCM's Classic Movie Blog : November 28, 2010 12:40 pm

[...] screenings in September – a rare print of WHISKEY MOUNTAIN; here is a link to the post -http://moviemorlocks.com/2010/09/12/whiskey-mountain/). I also believe that a communal film experience, minus the cell phones, texting and other [...]

Posted By Joe Wawrzyniak : August 10, 2015 2:51 pm

Thanks for the kind words about my IMDb review of this film.

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