We have to get ‘The Legend of Wolf Mountain’ (1992) into the hands of @mattmcg22 to at least consider screening as a potential film for season 14, because it’s prime Grade A riffing material brought to you by almost the entire returning cast of the MST3K classic ‘Soultaker.’
Only this time around they blew their entire Joe Estevez budget on Bo Hopkins (playing the exact same small-town hick sheriff he always plays) and… holy crap, is that Mickie Rooney?!? Dear god man, why? Who did you owe money to?
I don’t know who owns the rights, but it appears on several wolf-themed “Value DVD sets”, which is a pretty good sign that it’s really really cheap.
The plot is basically “what if we ripped off ‘Home Alone’ and ‘The Wizard’ but set it out in the woods where we could film without a permit?” A series of escaped cons decide to steal an idling car with three kids in the back seat, then proceed to lose kids, car, their guns, and the money they stole in that order. The kids themselves are gratuitously 90’s and spend most of the film bickering, humiliating Robert Z’Dar, and recklessly endangering themselves (one of them fails so hard at sitting on a log that he somehow ends up rolling 50 feet, changing pants, and dangling off the edge of a cliff that was nowhere near him), only to be occasionally… but only occasionally… rescued from their own stupidity by a not at all offensive Native American guardian spirit who speaks entirely through ‘Soultaker’ style reverb pedal voice over.
This guardian spirit (who gets a sepiatone backstory dump 3/4 of the way through the film very similar to Joe Estevez’ character in ‘Soultaker’) was a man… who came back as wolf… who occasionally has the ability to shapeshift back into a man. Being a wolf spirit tasked with defending a specific mountain from the forces of evil may sound like a pretty cool gig, and one that would probably allow you plenty of free time, but it appears that if you have a choice between coming back as a wolf spirit or a human spirit, there is zero advantage to being a wolf since you immediately lose your ability to see over barriers more than 2 feet high and opposable thumbs. Wolves, it turns out, completely suck.
The wolf spirit’s abilities are primarily confined to providing moral support, the occasional POV shot, and lame “Ah ha! I was a wolf staring at you from the bushes a few seconds ago… and now I’m a man staring at you from the same exact bushes… only now I can’t see in the dark as well, but I can perceive color… so I guess that’s a worthwhile tradeoff?”
Watching it through, it’s got that perfect MST3K balance of competence/incompetence where the acting is terrible and most of the small parts are obviously just the director’s friends or members of the crew, but not so bad the movie becomes unwatchable. The dialogue is clunky with dramatic pauses between lines, and you could tell they were reaching for humor and wacky adventure and wonder… but fell short of every single goal. Yet it’s filmed just well enough that the “story” still flows, and it isn’t boring… merely stupid. So scenes of the dumbass kids and crooks lost on the mountain are broken up regularly with scenes of the ineffective adults failing to rescue them in town, and new characters are introduced throughout so there’s always plenty of fresh riff material. It’s actually, a lot like Soultaker in terms pacing and general competence, just obviously aimed at a younger PG audience.
This movie is just dumb enough that I’m confident it could easily become the new ‘Cry Wilderness’, and there’s plenty of great fodder for host segments.
Here’s the trailer:
You can also watch the entire movie here in HD (I’ve got it cued up to the potential stinger moment with the afore mentioned ‘log fail’)