Thunder and Lightning (1977)

thunder and lightning

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: More southern fried nonsense.

This is incredibly contrived good ol’ boy nonsense about competing moonshiners that gets taken into overdrive and just an excuse for a lot of smash-up car chases.

The filmmakers seem compelled to come up with every southern stereotype they can think of. There is the grizzled, uneducated, overall wearing, backwoods moonshiners, as well as the beer swilling pick-up truck driving rednecks with names like Bubba and Scooter, virtuous, but spunky southern daughter with an annoying hick accent and even a scene where a couple of down home boys jump into a car and shout “yahoo!” as it takes off. After about ten minutes this one-dimensional, uninspired mess makes you feel like you are brain dead.

The production values are poor with muffled sound and fast edits that makes some of the action hard to follow. The whole thing looks rushed and haphazardly put together simply so it could quickly cash in on the success of Smokey and the Bandit.

David Carradine’s performance is much too subdued as he seems to have no energy and is just mouthing his lines. Kate Jackson is pretty, but her personality is much too strong. The only fun piece of casting is Sterling Holloway in his last film appearance. He is probably best known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh and here plays a moonshiner.

The film does manage to have a few good moments. One is a unique speed boat chase done on a large swamp as well as is a segment where a minister preaches his sermon while wrestling with an alligator. There are also two hit men who like in Pulp Fiction have unusual conversations. Some of the strange topics include too much violence on TV, Captain Kangaroo, and even Norman Vincent Peale. There is even a cool inside joke that occurs when actor Charles Napier is having a fight with Carradine and he shouts out “Hey asshole knock off the Kung Fu shit!”

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: August 24, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Corey Allen

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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