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Shadow of the Hawk (1976)


As a child I had a crush on Jan-Michael Vincent. After all, he was The World’s Greatest Athlete and The Mechanic! (And that was before I saw Big Wednesday … oh golly.) Here he’s a half-Indian computer programmer who experiences a weird underwater event with a strange masked body pulling him under. When he throws a party at his duplex apartment who shows up but Chief Dan George, his medicine man grandfather Old Man Hawk who’s had some strange warnings himself and fetched up in a hospital far from home. Journalist Marilyn Hassett convinces the guy to take grandpa 300 miles back to his village to battle the evil sorceress Dsonoqua, who’s trying to destroy their strong medicine because their ancestors put her to death two hundred years earlier after she killed her family. (Talk about holding a grudge.) Their road trip is filled with bad voodoo including a 1958 Pontiac appearing and disappearing and reappearing and putting them off the road. Bad things just happen, rather randomly, with some flashbacks to totemic owls and the like. And then Little Hawk (as grandpa christens him) has to battle a bear, kinda like Leo did in The Revenant. And it seems to be a real bear, not a metaphorical bear. This never comes together at the screenplay level but it’s diverting and a preparation for that near-masterpiece Wolfen, a few years later, when these kinds of themes would be crystallised more clearly in a civilisation clash.  This looks very nice but really, you can’t blame Old Man Hawk for wanting to go fishing after his grandson has risen to the challenge. It’s not easy to battle a 200lb Alsatian – I should know. I have the scars from just such an encounter. Having to watch it go down must be exhausting.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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