Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Charles Bronson and Will Sampson take on a monstrous and mythical white buffalo! The manliest man to ever hit the silver screen, Bronson is Wild Bill Hickok, on a quest to kill a rampaging albino buffalo that haunts his dreams to such a point that he wakes up shooting his pistols in the air. Meanwhile, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Will Sampson is the mighty Crazy Horse, ostracized from his tribe and sent on a mission by the tribal elders to kill the same buffalo that, coincidentally, rampaged through their settlement, killing many, including Crazy Horse’s newborn child. Together, these men must join forces to bring down the beast. Director J. Lee Thompson eschews the typical cowboys-and-Indians Hollywood hokum in favor of an honestly masculine tale of two men hell-bent of holy revenge. Both of these Old West heroes have their shortcomings and finally realize that the only way to truly defeat this Moby Dick-esque killer to come together and use all of their skills to stop this unstoppable beast.
Ben Johnson and Iron Eyes Cody take on the fearsome Cheyenne warrior Grayeagle! In this variation of the classic racist John Wayne western The Searchers, famed cult director Charles B. Pierce (The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Legend of Boggy Creek) twists and turns that original story in such a way that, by the end of it, you’re cheering the Native American warriors and identifying with the emotional resonance of their story. Ben Johnson is a craggy old cowboy who lives on a piece of frontier land with his Native American pal Iron Eyes Cody (whom many of you may remember from those 1970s littering PSAs) and daughter Lana Wood. One day, a fearsome Cheyenne warrior named Grayeagle breaks into their cabin and kidnaps the daughter. Thanks to previous westerns, we’re led to believe this is for nefarious reasons, only to find out that it was done for only the noblest of them. But, as Ben and Cody try to track her, they run afoul of a rival tribe out for revenge. Full of suspense and derring-do, Grayeagle may not be as well-known as The Searchers, but, from my point of view — a Native American one — is a far better movie.
Jan-Michael Vincent and Chief Dan George take on the vengeful evil spirit of an ancient sorceress! Vincent (of TV’s Airwolf) is Mike, a successful businessman who, many years ago, turned his back on his Native American roots in order to achieve more worldly and material fame. Meanwhile, back on the tribal land, an evil spirit called Dsonoqua is wreaking havoc, poisoning the land and the people. Tribal shaman Old Man Hawk (George, who was Academy Award-nominated for his performance in Little Big Man), knowing his time is limited, goes to the city to reclaim his grandson and pass his power on to him in order to defeat the demon and send the spirits back to hell. While, above all, yes, this is a horror film of sorts, it’s also a pretty moving tale of remembering who you and what you are, honoring your ancestors, and reclaiming the past that is rightfully yours.