A series of reviews and random bits of pop culture ephemera that I'm watching, reading, listening to or whatever.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
THE FORCE ON THUNDER MOUNTAIN
Directed by Peter B. Good United Home Video VHS
THE FILM “The kids will love this one…a colorful blend of wildlife film and science fiction thriller.” says the back of my United Home Video VHS box. I’d say it’s skewed more towards wildlife film. And, I’d say the kids might just be able to stay awake during it. I had trouble myself and, perversely, that just made me watch it a second time. Jimmy The Boy Wonder has not been overthrown as my favorite kids movie because this one is in a special place to the left of things.
“Father and son embark on a camping trip in the wilderness near mysterious Thunder Mountain.” The son’s name is Rick. I forgot the father’s name. Apparently, so did the person writing the copy on the back of the VHS.* Dad gets a lot of voiceover. He works too hard. His son doesn’t want to go on the trip. Father is hoping this trip will bring them closer together. At one point, Dad’s voiceover breaks into a song about going on a trip to Thunder Mountain with his son. I loved it.
“Old Indian legends tell of strange lights emanating from the top of the mountain, and all manner of peculiar occurrences are said to take place there.” 1,000 years ago the legends began. There is a prologue set in 1888. A couple of miners get chased off of the mountain after getting showered with rocks and saying “Bullfeathers!” It takes Father and Rick (maybe “Father” is his name, Father Jones, Actuary?) several days to hike to the mountain so it’s not something folks can wander onto by accident. I’m imagining quite a few Sasquatch also have legends about this mountain, too.**
“As the boy and his dad approach the mountain, strange things begin to happen.” I don’t think they’re referring to all the wildlife stock footage but they could be. Remember how all the old review books used to comment on how much stock footage The Prey had in it? Well, Force bests it, big time. In fact, there are wonderful moments when the film seems to be just about a father and son wandering through the woods looking at nature. And then, the director (Peter B. Good) remembers that this is supposed to have a narrative and the “strange things begin to happen”.
“Powerful gusts of wind come from nowhere and destroy their camp. Later, the two are nearly crushed by a falling tree.” All true. It also sends the words “Go Back!” along the wind. This force actually teleports them into the middle of a desert at one point. It means business. But, very casually, the father and son continue moving towards Thunder Mountain (DA-DAAAA!!!!!).***
“They feel that they are being watched when there apparently is no one around.” Rick feels like he’s being watched. Father keeps shrugging it all off. Until, he vanishes into the desert and almost can’t get back. “Separated from his father, the boy comes across Om, a bearded old man who claims to have lived a thousand years on Thunder Mountain.” He says he is from the planet Ariana. He’s been living on the mountain and sleeping under a big rock, waiting for someone to take him home. He has engineered all of the incidents with his “Thought Translator”. It looks like a UFO-shaped rock. When Om thinks something, it immediately happens. He says that he is using “The Force”. What is the secret of this mysterious place?
“What is the secret of this mysterious place?” Hey! The copywriter and I are on the same page.
“To an innocent youngster with no malice in his heart, Om reveals all in this colorful blend of wildlife…etc…” Om doesn’t reveal much. He hands Rick the “Thought Translator”. During a bear attack, Rick uses it. Om says “Fusion is Complete” and lets Rick keep the “Thought Translator”. Then, Om leaves (I think) in a flying saucer. Rick is reunited with Father and their dog and they leave and I still couldn’t quite figure out the point of all of it.
But, the wildlife footage is wonderful. I learned more about beavers here than anywhere else. It’s such beautiful country that they’re in. Nothing can get in the way of that. Not even the “Adventure”, which is so low-key it’s amazing. To appropriate a review cliché, it seems to have been made by nature filmmakers who had heard about Star Wars and wanted to incorporate all that “Sci-Fi” that the kids love into their movie. And, it’s fascinating. But, it can make you sleepy.
AUDIO AND VIDEO The audio is fine. The quality of the print is rather washed out and cheap-looking. It looks like one of those 70s Nature/ Bigfoot documentaries that were made by Sunn Classics. Do I need to say that I think it looks awesome?
EXTRAS For The Force On Thunder Mountain? The VHS? Keep reading, Chester…
FINAL THOUGHTS I liked it. But, I can’t figure out who the heck it would have been made for. After about 15 minutes, I could see kids wandering around the theater, bored silly. And, after 20 minutes, my wife was telling me to turn it off. The curiosity factor drove me along. Why was this made? Who was it made for? Why is there no screenwriter credited? Why, why, why? American National Enterprises “presented” the film. The only other film I have from them is Didn’t You Hear. Now there’s a film to review. Maybe next time.
*Hey! I stand corrected. The credits list him as “Father”. “I don’t want the people to know the Father’s name.” “But, isn’t…” “No! They must not know…They must never know.”
**And, in Bigfoot Video stores, The Flord On Blunder Moundland is a big renter. The Land of the Sasquatch never went DVD. They have no use for the “Commentary”. They regard Hi-Def as foolishness, especially during the Windy Season. (October.)
***Every time we see the mountain, regardless of what’s occurring in the narrative, there is an enormous musical sting.
****Their logo is accompanied by a shot of an eagle. That shot, at least I think it’s the same shot, appears as stock footage in the film.