King of the Mountain (1981) Poster

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One of my favorites...a forgotten gem
racerx707 April 2006
I first saw this movie back in 1981 and it struck a chord with me, being I was a successful street racer at the time. Steve's modified Porsche Speedster was one of the coolest looking cars of its time (big fender flares were in, but most cars looked cartoonish with them), and Cal's Corvette "rat racer" is still cool today. Some of the extras in the Mulholland scenes were actual racers themselves, and that helped to give an authentic feel to what street racing was actually like back in the late '70's/early '80's. There are some elements that aren't racing related ( the subplot of Buddy's music career, for example) that could be considered ponderous moments, but the racing sequences more than made up for them. The dynamic of the three friends (Steve, Buddy and Roger) sharing a common house worked, showing the differences in each character's personality. Steve (Harry Hamlin) in particular was my favorite... comfortable enough around his friends, quiet and reserved in normal social situations, but not really "alive" unless he was in his car racing. There's Buddy, loyal friend to the core, and budding musician. And Roger, former racer himself that feels he's outgrown Mulholland and now wants more out of life. Then there's Cal (Dennis Hopper), who was the previous top dog until he had a bad accident, never really recovering from it. Still, he wants to be back on top, no matter what or who stands in his way... I'm lucky enough to have this long out of print film on VHS, and would love nothing more than to see it on DVD. This is a film no true gearhead or fan of the "car film" genre should be without. Check it out if you get the chance.
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Why isn't this on DVD??
jamesluk2 August 2004
One of the first uncensored movies I saw, thanks to a young HBO. Add in an early 80's Harry Hamlin with a near afro, that dark haired chick from the "Warriors" and "Too Close For Comfort", a crackpot turn by Dennis Hopper, Mullholland Drive drag racing, some cheesy soundtrack music and you have a a beautiful time capsule. Harry is the top drag racer on Mullholland Drive, but Dennis Hopper, who used to be the top gun before taking too many drugs or something like that, is ready for a showdown. I think. I might remember better if this movie was at all available. Really gets at that moment where what we know as the 80's was just beginning, while the 70's was still hanging around in the ether. Tight Sergio Valente jeans, members only jackets, but hair still in that big 70's mode.
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Not available on DVD, but now streaming on Amazon Prime!
I first saw this cultural time capsule while working as a movie usher when it first came out in 1981 ... and a few dozen times since then on fuzzy, edited TV broadcasts and VHS. Was finally excited to see it again in high resolution widescreen on Amazon Prime last night ... check it out while it's up! I just love the song and performance of "Dangerous Strangers" by Deborah Van Valkenburgh.
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A mountain void of story, but some good action
PeterMitchell-506-56436413 February 2013
You'd probably think by judging the cover of this old action flick, it's average. And you'd be dead right. This film actually even had a book too, if you can believe. What this film is basically about, is about petrol heads racing each other on the snaking high top road, above the twinkling lights of L.A known as Mulholland Drive. Everyone wants to be the fastest, hence claim the title of this film. Good luck to to them. We have an array of known actors. Even Dan "Grizzly Adams" Haggerty gets in on this one, as an older and wiser mechanic who gave up being a petrol head, cause he knew it was his time. He lectures Hamlin, the new wannabe winner, to mull his future if continuing to race, and where is it leading. This is basically the message: Do you wanna keeping racing cars or make something of yourself. Some of his friends too play in a struggling band, Hamlin's new love (Van Valkenberg) a singer. Some of racing scenes at night are impressive, I must admit, but what this story rides low is any real kind of story, which here is devoid of plot, yet near the end, racing nutter Cal (Hopper) challenges Bottoms to a race or vice versa, where he accepts, this leading to tragedy, where Hamlin becomes the avenging racer. Really a film for speed freaks.
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Good flick that takes you back
eastcoastmopars8 May 2004
I am currently trying to find this film on vhs. If anybody knows of it, or has a copy they would like to sell. I am willing to purchase it. Please email me with the details... about the movie, I saw it about 20 years back, right after it came out, I immediately identified with it, and has stayed with me. It is a real movie, about real street racing, before the days of neon and tuners. This film makes The Fast and The Furious look like The Slow and Ridiculous. In case anybody thought Dennis Hopper plays a goofy rogue character in Speed, they need to see this one (love his beater corvette in the movie). Like all car movies it is not inept to at least a little cheesy-ness. Although I would say it is a little more realistic than most.
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Dark Street Racing Movie
tie_dyed_karma3 February 2003
I saw King of the Mountain on HBO in the 80's. Hamlin plays a street racer with a dark mysterious side, and the current King of the Mountain. Hopper plays the former King, a ruthless drunk racer. The film comes across as low budget and has a slow plot, but its one of those movies that for some inexplicable reason you like. It also has a decent soundtrack.
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Before the Fast and the Furious, there was the `King'.
tomslo196814 December 2001
This movie is quite good. More action than that sucky commercial flick Gone in 60 Seconds that bored me in six milliseconds! THIS IS A CLASSIC CAR ACTION FILM IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. Great action throughout, a fair script and good actors, although it may not have been their best acting performance. The real stars (the cars) are not forgotten here. If you do get to see this movie, check out the cool mid-70's white Datsun 280-Z with diagonal striping on doors. I saw an example of one of these cars in a magazine with a Chevy 350 installed. And of course, Steve's (Harry Hamlin) Porsche 356 Speedster with Centerline wheels on WIDE B.F. Goodrich tiers under AC Cobra like wheel well flares! This move will satisfy all car nuts. And some who aren't! This was the days before the after- market auto industry made it possible for just about anyone to build a cool car through a catalogue or the Internet. None of these cars are straight of the shelf. Except perhaps for a 1980 Chevy Camaro Z28 and a Jaguar XKE. I have this movie on videotape that had to have been recorded in the mid-80's by a friend or myself when I was around 13 years old. Unfortunately, I can't find this movie being sold on VHS or DVD anywhere. Enjoy it, if you can find it. If you think you would like this kind of movie, try finding `The Driver' with Ryan O'neal and Bruce Dern too!
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ebiros220 August 2012
Although there are some death scenes, this movie captured the LA culture of the late '70s, early '80s spot on.

The movie captures the freedom and the energy America had some years ago before it started to shift to more of a beehive mentality. It also features the pre Gen-X culture when the ME generation ruled the world.

One thing I can say about the ME generation is that they can party like nobody else. Music was big part of it, and the music in this movie is great.

The women of this movie are also great. I'm sure some women would say the same about the men in this movie too.

What this country lost in terms of the car culture seems to be still going in parts of Asia, especially Japan. Initial D is almost a transplant of this movie to the hills of Mt. Akina.

The good old days. I like this movie better than the Easy Rider. It really brings back the good times.
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Speed King Repose
cultfilmfreaksdotcom10 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
At one point, as the story veers from second to third act, the main characters are at a bigwig record company party, and Richard Cox wants to go out back out on Mulholland Drive and tear up the roads. Joseph Bottoms turns to him and says with a grin, "We're at a fancy party and you want to go driving?"

Well that's what the movie promises so why the hell not? But what driving there is, up, down and around the snaky mountainous curves of L.A.'s notoriously dangerous Mulholland, isn't so bad. Harry Hamlin is the road king and he's already a nostalgic hero; more of a legend than someone winning the makeshift races. He meets sexy WARRIORS siren Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who's recording songs with Harry's struggling musician friends, and she alone might just have a future.

Most of the film are these characters hanging out, dreaming about something other than racing that mountain. So it's Dennis Hopper's burnt-out has-been roadster, a mechanic where Hamlin works, that brings the race back on: he'll take on anybody to reclaim his past glory. Leading to several nighttime races, replete with high octane energy and burning headlights, that keep a cool pace and will keep the viewer guessing not only the winner, but who won't buy the farm.

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A superb and stirring unjustly overlooked car race knockout
Woodyanders3 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Here's a quintessentially rough'n'tumble early 80's high testosterone macho-posturing men being men gruntfest that John Milius would have been proud to make. Overconfident garage mechanic Steve (solid Harry Hamlin), engagingly impudent aspiring songwriter Buddy (the ever-puckish Joseph Bottoms), and stuffy junior record company executive Roger (essayed with utmost gravity by Richard Cox) are three longtime buddies who regularly engage in car races on the steep, winding and highly perilous mountainside roads of L.A.'s Mulholland Falls in order to alleviate the grim, unrewarding tedium of their everyday lives and inject some much-needed excitement into their otherwise second-rate existences. Steve's cockiness and unbeatable status as the current King of the Mountain raises the intense ire and fiery jealousy of scraggly, burnt-out, washed-up, pony-tailed hippie and former champ Cal (a deliciously wacky Dennis Hopper in one of his patented moody loony parts). Cal challenges Steve to a big high stakes race so he can regain his title and status. Sultry go-getter would-be singer Tina (a superbly sparky turn by the tantalizing Deborah Van Valkenburgh of "The Warriors" fame, who belts out a couple of songs in a terrifically tart'n'torchy blues wail) gets caught in the middle of this fierce competition.

H.R. Christian's rugged, no-kidding sinewy script, heavily suffused with manly man deep-think introspection and inspired by David Barry's "Thunder Road" article in "New West" magazine, trenchantly examines the many intriguing facets of male obsessiveness: the obdurate refusal to grow up, pushing yourself to the limit ("Ya gotta ride the edge in order to win"), not compromising your values, succeeding in life on your own terms, the deep-seated desire to amount to something in life and achieve a certain lofty stature, hyper-masculine competitiveness, and even knowing when you're beat and just learning to accept your losses, especially when said losses may very well mean the possible untimely end of your life. Donald Peterman's garishly bright, glowing, neon-hued cinematography vividly captures the steamy and crackling California night life. The thrillingly quick and dangerous no-holds-barred car race scenes are handled cinema verite style: no music, short, snappy edits, and unfancy ground level camera-work. Nice bits by Seymour Cassel as an obnoxious hipster record company president, Dan Haggerty as a gruff mechanic, Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson as an annoying neighbor, and the late, great Steve James as a meddlesome cop. Director Noel Nosseck treats the potentially silly subject matter with laudable seriousness, injecting a strong sense of underlying despair, a feeling of going nowhere fast and wanting something more out of life which transcends the mundane and explicable, which makes this mighty fine and satisfying unsung sleeper one hell of an excellent car race drama.
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One of the best street race flicks
jazzyjerome18 September 2013
It was my favorite street race flicks of all time until Fast and Furious came out. Now I debate about which one I like better. You can't be a real car flick guy if you haven't seen this movie. It didn't have a big budget but it has a decent amount of action going on. It wasn't in the theaters very long so I didn't get a chance to catch it on the big screen. It has more emphasis on cars than most car flicks yet it retained a decent story with a good plot. Most car flicks have a crappy story and very little car action. Dennis Hopper was the best character he played the hell out of that role. My only gripe is why the heck hasn't this been release on DVD??? I had it on VHS but I don't know what I did with it :'(
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