After the success of his gore epics, Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs!, Herschell Gordon Lewis made this, the first of several country fried films. But just because this is supposed to be a sexy comedy romp doesn’t mean that Lewis won’t hit us with plenty of strangeness and lots of the red stuff.
Charles Glore, working here as Chuck Scott, is a country western star who heads back to the hills of the Carolines where within days, he’s in the middle of a feud between the government and the moonshiners. Glore also was the musical director for Two Thousand Maniacs! and wrote this movie.
The title card says “directed by Herchell Gordon Lewis, who ought to know better, but don’t.” Lewis just can’t help himself, as in the midst of the country fun, a psycho named Asa Potter is refused sex from the singer’s girlfriend and then kills her. Keep in mind that he’s also the town’s sheriff and also assaults multiple women in the film, including one mentally challenged girl that eventually fells him with an axe, which is how it works in the universe of Lewis.
This leads to the sheriff shooting people off a watertower, Charles Starkweather-style. Keep in mind this movie was made only six years after that shocking event.
Lewis also wrote and sings the main theme, “White Lightning.” As much as he would live up to the quote “I see filmmaking as a business and pity anyone who regards it as an art form,” you can tell when the man is having a good time. Moonshine Mountain isn’t a good film, but it sure is interesting in parts and it’s pretty short. More films should aspire to both points.
There was also a novelization of the film, which blows my mind. It’s a collector’s item today. I miss the time when every movie had a book that would go with it. Somehow, having this movie written into a novel legitimizes it.
You can watch Moonshine Mountain on Amazon Prime. I’d advise some grain alcohol to speed up the slow parts.