Eco-Sorrier: Mountain Fury (1991)

Dave heads west of Calgary, to bed down in the wild with the naturalists and check out William Dever’s barely seen thriller.

“Are you writing about bad movies?” queries William Dever when tapped up for a few soundbites on his Calgary-set eco-thriller, MOUNTAIN FURY. Assured that it’s driven by archivism and not acerbity, the Indiana-based movie obsessive detailed the background of his unique slice of Canuxploitation.

“It’s the usual story where I had some investors that wanted to make a picture. I then got in contact with Lloyd Klingbell, who was a broadcast film student and a writer who was based out of Alberta. Naturally, with it being a low budget endeavour, I got drawn into producing, directing, writing, and doing craft services, but it was a smooth shoot.”

Shot in the peaceful hamlet of Bragg Creek [1] and utilising the nearby picturesque vistas of Calgary, Mountain Fury concerns itself with a group of radical environmentalists determined to interrupt a horde of greedy developers who are placing the life of a rare breed of caribou in danger. The local community are oblivious to these eco warriors – however, thanks to a curious reporter (Anita Wong) and a concerned lawyer (James Bell), the plight of the endangered reindeer finally gallops into the public domain, and stems the barbaric crusade of the well-meaning, but murderous tree-huggers.

Although you have to applaud its ecological intentions and commend Dever’s artfully lit interiors and expansive shots of the lush Canadian landscape, it would be misleading to laud this as a forgotten masterpiece of exploitation. If you cut the laboured end credits, and the relentless inserts of a sweeping aerial sequence (with the helicopter shadow eternally in shot), you’re left with an hour of iffy acting (most notably from the British newspaper editor played by Shirley Canfield), mediocre sound, and a script that swings awkwardly between slapstick and serious.

Released on VHS by the nefarious film distributor RaeDon Home Entertainment, Dever is yet to receive a penny from it.

“They went bankrupt soon after,” he recalls. “We sold six and a half thousand copies at forty-nine bucks a piece! Never saw a dime. Meanwhile my next movie, China Frost (1991), got caught up in their demise and it hasn’t seen the light of day. It’s FAR better than Mountain Fury too.”

Alas we’ll never know, and although you might struggle to justify the reason for thawing Mountain Fury from the frozen wasteland of VHS mediocrity, for a picture that served as an apprenticeship for the guy who went on to co-write a handful of Jim Wynorski flick like Gila! (2012), it nevertheless remains a valuable part of the B-movie jigsaw.

Canada ● 1991 ● Action ● 76mins

James Bell, Anita Wong, Bob Chomyn, Mariette Sluyter ● Dir. William Dever JrWri. Lloyd Klingbell

Artwork courtesy of vhscollector.com

[1] Also used the following year as the setting for David Winning’s decent suspense thriller Killer Image, which made good use of both Michael Ironside and M. Emmett Walsh.

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