White Fury (1990)

For those of you following the ISCFC’s review series of David A Prior, you may have noticed how he started to change – not having every movie be a weird Vietnam revenge story with a bad gunfight in it, for one – but prepare to be even more surprised by a movie which bears almost no relation to anything he’s done before (one delightful actor notwithstanding).

It’s a snow movie! Our hero is Danny (Shaun Holton), a snowboarding champion, whose girlfriend Christine (Christine Shinn), best friend Greg (William Berg) and Greg’s evil girlfriend Lesley (Chasity Hammons) go off to a cabin in the woods, in the snow, for a weekend of fun. Well, Lesley is a hideous beast who won’t let her boyfriend touch her hair and doesn’t want to go on a snowmobile; Greg is a miserable wet blanket who’s only interested in sex…but we’re expecting some sort of hijinks.

At the same time, we’re introduced to Tyler and Marcus (Deke Anderson and Michael Kaskel), two psychopathic bank robbers. After they’ve taken the money from one bank, they stand there and murder like 20 or so people with their assault rifles, then murder their own getaway driver later! There’s a hefty hint that murder is now Tyler’s main interest in all this business, as his look of sexual pleasure at butchering people does not go unnoticed. They decide to lie low with the bag full of cash, and guess which secluded spot they choose?

The final piece of this jigsaw is one Doug Harter, rapidly becoming an ISCFC favourite thanks to his roles in “Rapid Fire”, “Invasion Force” and now this. I’ll forever know him as “Pappy”, his character name in “Rapid Fire”, but here he’s a bounty hunter by the name of Martin Towers, who, despite being much older than Tyler, has apparently devoted his life to tracking him down. It takes him so long to integrate with the main plot that I began to wonder if this movie, entirely unlike any previous David A Prior effort, was actually someone else’s and Prior had bought it to splice some footage of Harter into to get to sellable length (it’s not this).

If you can get past the negative levels of charisma the four main cast members have with each other, and how Marcus looks more like a bland substitute teacher than he does a murderous bank robber, you’ve still got some curious editing decisions to really put you off making sense of “White Fury”. I’ll try to give an example.

At one point, all four stars are in the room, playing charades together. Tyler and Marcus are outside watching them, wondering why their lovely empty cabin is full of teen assholes. Tyler, who has rape and murder on his mind, looks pleased – but Danny is outside the room when the two men break in, instantly turns into a stealth-ninja and no-one apparently is aware he’s there until he tries to attack one of the men about ten minutes later. Plus, he steals the robbers’ cash to use as leverage, despite it being impossible he could have any idea what the men were carrying.

Further editing oddities include the weather changing from heavy snow to bright sunshine, depending on which character in a chase we were following, and in some cases changing even for those characters. Did no-one notice when inspecting the dailies for this movie? Did anyone inspect dailies? Did anyone apart from a bored, drunk editor watch this movie before it was released? You will be annoyed when you think back to the snowboarding at the beginning, which features a guy in a full scarf in the long shots so we can’t see it’s not Danny; then in closeups has the poor actor, now minus scarf, pretend to be flying about a snowboard track, despite there being no wind and the clouds and trees in the background staying entirely still as he makes his body shake about.

What I thought was the end, but was in fact just the middle, drags on to a ludicrous extent as the two men terrorise the teens and Towers is occasionally seen getting closer to his prey. It’s cheap and ugly looking and boring and everyone is a terrible actor, so it was a real bind to sit through, dear reader: when I discovered there was a whole extra bit, where Tyler turns into some superhero, getting shot, beaten with a baseball bat and still able to overpower three strong, well-rested guys and a bunch of park rangers, I really started to get bored.

Boredom is, unfortunately, the main thing you’ll feel while watching “White Fury”. It’s by far the most amateurish Prior movie to date, with nothing interesting visually, a script that forgot to have a remotely interesting central conflict or any good dialogue, and a running time that felt terribly padded even at 82 minutes. It’s available to watch for free, but unlike many of the AIP movies we’ve covered so far, it’s not even worth watching for that much.

Rating: thumbs down

PS – this even disproves my previous theory that rocket launchers or bazookas make all movies more entertaining. Even the nice guy bounty hunter carrying around multiple high-powered explosive devices failed to raise any excitement from this reviewer.

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