HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Greenland
Broil
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
School's Out Forever
Breeder
Stump the Guesser
Sator
Last Warning, The
PVT CHAT
Ascent, The
Clementine
Hurt by Paradise
Saint Maud
Johnny Frenchman
Glitch in the Matrix, A
Beginning
Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris
Funeral Home, The
Sailors Three
   
 
Newest Articles
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
   
 
  White Buffalo, The Bronson baffles buffalo in weirdo western
Year: 1977
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Will Sampson, Kim Novak, Ed Lauter, Clint Walker, Slim Pickens, Stuart Whitman, John Carradine
Genre: Horror, Western, Weirdo, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Horror westerns are few and far between and frequently very weird. In the 1960s, the great John Ford failed to find backers for Comanche Stallion, a supernatural, wild west variant on Moby Dick. One wonders if it would have been anywhere near as strange as The White Buffalo, the mystical/western/monster epic produced by Italian movie mogul Dino De Laurentiis.

In the bleak winter of 1874, Wild Bill Hickok (Charles Bronson) is plagued by nightmares about a rampaging monster, the white buffalo. This same mythical beast attacks the Sioux village of Chief Crazy Horse (Will Sampson), slaughtering many including the chief’s newborn baby. An Indian shaman tells Crazy Horse the child’s soul will not rest until the buffalo is slain. Meanwhile, Hickok journeys to the town of Cheyenne, where he dallies with old flame Mrs. “Poker Jenny” Schermerhorn (Kim Novak) and out-guns old enemies, before hooking up with his eccentric friend, Charlie Zane (Jack Warden), who barely escaped a run-in with the murderous beast. Setting out to kill the white buffalo, Hickok and Zane survive an ambush by Crow Indians with help from Crazy Horse. Amidst the frozen wastes, two legendary folk heroes unite to face an unstoppable, supernatural terror.

J. Lee Thompson is more celebrated for his early, British thrillers or Hollywood classics like Cape Fear (1962) and The Guns of Navarone (1961), while his initially fertile partnership with Charles Bronson eventually lapsed in the 1980s into a series of increasingly bleak, lazy, misogynistic action-thrillers. However, Thompson also produced some very strange, borderline avant-garde oddities like Eye of the Devil (1966), MacKenna’s Gold (1969) and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), and none were weirder than The White Buffalo. Dino DeLaurentiis, midway through a triumvirate of monster movies (including King Kong (1976) and Orca, Killer Whale (1977)), clearly saw this as “Jaws goes West”, but Thompson attempts something more rewarding. A dark, dreamlike meditation on the nature of death and fate.

Awkwardly adapted from his own novel by writer Richard Sale (who later wrote Assassination (1987), a more conventional action-comedy vehicle for Bronson and his wife Jill Ireland), the uneven narrative imparts a surreal quality to proceedings that is actually quite compelling. Eerie and atmospheric, the film unfolds like a waking nightmare. Entirely studio-bound, the fantastical sets impart a grotesque flavour. Mountains of bleached white bones line the train tracks as Hickok rides into Cheyenne. Dry ice seeps across a vast, horror movie landscape seething with an unsettling life of its own. Thompson overloads his film with dense, mystical symbolism, allusions to Moby Dick, Native American folklore and the occult. Carlo Rambaldi’s special effects creation has been criticised, but is quite effective overall; the portentous, all-pervading sense of dread that surrounds the white buffalo greatly enhanced by John Barry’s ominous score and the bone-chilling, bellowing roar of the beast.

Special guest stars Kim Novak, Stuart Whitman and Clint Walker are grievously wasted in throwaway roles, along with western stalwarts Slim Pickens and John Carradine. Charles Bronson, eyes near-permanently encased in dark sunglasses, is a suitably mythic incarnation of Wild Bill Hickok, compelling even when lost in a delirious haze. For Hickok, the white buffalo seems to embody a monstrous synthesis between fate and impending death (the real Wild Bill died when he was shot in the back during a poker game), but Thompson extends the menace beyond the personal into the mythic. In his hands, the shaggy albino becomes a Lovecraftian horror, an Antichrist out to doom all mankind. Hickok and Crazy Horse are cast as humanity’s saviours, and their battle with the behemoth becomes an attempt to master fate.

Whether you find this intriguing or laugh such pretensions off the screen, as critics did in 1977, is a matter of personal taste. The White Buffalo was not a commercial success in its day (except in Asia, where it remains a cult favourite) and its murky incomprehensibility won it few friends in the ensuing decades. However, adventurous movie fans live for such offbeat fare and the surreal atmosphere, horror elements and existential ambition are quite intriguing.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 6208 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

J. Lee Thompson  (1914 - 2002)

Veteran British director frequently in Hollywood, usually with stories featuring an adventure or thriller slant. Among his many films, including a number of Charles Bronson movies, are capital punishment drama Yield to the Night, adventures Ice Cold in Alex and North West Frontier, the original Cape Fear, Tiger Bay, wartime epic The Guns of Navarone, What a Way To Go!, horror Eye of the Devil, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and slasher Happy Birthday to Me.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: