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The Legend of Hillbilly John (1974)

G  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  February 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 59 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 8 critic

A wandering ballad singer in the Appalachians meets an ugly bird-type creature, is transported back in time, finds himself involved in the Devil's work.



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Credited cast:
Hedges Capers ...
Severn Darden ...
Mr. Marduke
Polly Wiltse
Percy Rodrigues ...
Capt. Lojoie H. Desplain IV
Grandpappy John
Zebulon Yandro
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sidney Clute ...
Sharon Henesy ...
Honor Hound ...
Chester Jones ...
Uncle Anansi
Alfred Ryder ...
O. J. Onselm
William Traylor ...
Reverend Millen
White Lightnin' ...


A wandering ballad singer in the Appalachians meets an ugly bird-type creature, is transported back in time, finds himself involved in the Devil's work. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


from ghostly hark mountain this eerie story of witches ... voodoo ... devils ... monsters See more »


Drama | Fantasy






Release Date:

February 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ballad of Hillbilly John  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Referenced in My Best Friend's Birthday (1987) See more »


Hark Mountain
Music by Hedges Capers
Lyrics by Melvin Levy
See more »

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User Reviews

A dark magical fantasy inspired by folk tales of the Carolinas.
28 May 2000 | by (Tacoma WA) – See all my reviews

A dark magical fantasy based on several of Manly Wade Wellman's stories about a guitar player who wanders across the rural American Southeast, confronting evil magicians, monsters, and perhaps the Devil himself.

The special effects are of only medium quality, even for 1973, and I can only suggest looking past them to the down-home, country-flavored fairy tale being told, woven together from fireside stories and folk traditions Wellman heard and adapted.

It's always hard to put on film what a poetic writer has described - the charm and mystery of Wellman's beloved Carolinan countryside, the old-fashioned courtesies and customs of the mountain people - and this movie does not quite succeed, perhaps because it did not really try. The magical creatures are put in the foreground, and the setting (Wellman's true love) is made a generic Southern backdrop. John in the book is a devout Christian (more, he might could be a friend of Christ); John in the movie is darkly hinted to be a son of the Devil.

My own enjoyment of this movie was very mixed: I felt frustrated by how often and how far the movie fell short of the books, and tantalized more by what the movie *could* have been than by what it *was*, but I'm glad I didn't miss seeing it.

If you also enjoyed the movie and want to see more of the character, read Wellman's "Silver John" books: "Who Fears the Devil?" (or "John the Balladeer"), "The Old Gods Waken", "After Dark", "The Lost and the Lurking", "The Hanging Stones", and "The Voice of the Mountain". There are also Wellman fan sites on the Web.

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