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What do you get when you take a top shelf actioneer like John Saxon, a TV veteran cutie from a hit series, Maureen McCormick, a former Playmate, Claudia Jennings, add big William Conrad, a script by Hugh Smith (a Billy Girdler compadre), hire up Gus Trikonis and head off to shoot a picture about moonshining. I'll tell you what you get, MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS, that's what you get. And I'll tell you what if you had just a couple scenes of nudity and a slightly more vicious portrayal of violence you probably wouldn't have to wait for me to tell you about it because it quite possibly could have been the best moonshine picture ever. And you say Prof Tread, "if you had hair you'd be hairy." So maybe neither one is true. But you haven't seen my back and you haven't seen MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS so let's get to it. The movie that is, my back is not all that. My balls now that is something worthy of review, but oh shit, never mind.

Our plot is fairly basic, Jack Starkey owns a small town, he runs moonshine to the neighboring county, supplies local bootleggers and makes a bunch of cash doing it. Pap Hammer is his only competition. Pap and Starkey's father were once partners but Starkey Sr. turned on Pap and Pap did hard time. When he returned he re-fired his still and the 2 have been vying for that primo liquor money ever since. Sharkey decides to end this far trade by destroying the still and Pap with it when he sends his henchmen to wipe the good old boys off the map with dynamite, guns and a guy named Sweetwater (Morgan Woodward, best know as "oh that guy" from such greats as THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, SUPERVAN and DEATH OF A GUNFIGHTER and incredible as Boss Godfrey, the Walking Boss in COOL HAND LUKE). Sweetwater is the heavy in a white leisure suit sure, but the shootout owes much to Peckinpah's choreography of THE WILD BUNCH and there is no shortage of squibs either, I might add.

Pap leaves behind 3 absolutely gorgeous hillbilly honeys, Dot (Susan Howard, you know her from DALLAS, the TV show), Betty, (Claudia Jennings, mentioned around these parts before, TRUCK STOP WOMEN amongst others) and Sissy (the Brady Bunch's Marsha, Maureen McCormick) to try and figure out what to do next. The town's sheriff doesn't have the resources to nab Starkey and the only man folk that seems interested is J.B. Mutherfuckin' Johnson, a dirt track driver who has the ladies in check but Starkey has J.B. on the payroll. The future doesn't look too bright for the gals. But Pap was holding a shit pot full of prohibition whiskey as inheritance in an underground cellar and when they find out, the beauties decide to take Sharkey on at his own game. No not odering up pizzas--MOONSHINING!

Conrad's Sharkey has no trouble with the role of heavy, TV's Cannon was one supreme fat ass who was born right up the road here in Louisville, Kentucky. Ol' Cannon's heart threw in the towel in 1994 after battling health problems for a couple years. Conrad's baritone delivery and rotund appearance come strong to the table to develop Jack Sharkey's boss man character. It doesn't hurt when he is shown with a couple hookers either. Everyone in town is scared of lard ass and if you are not scared you work for him. He wants what the gals have, the gals want revenge and some cash and J.B. Mutherfuckin' Johnson, well he wants to hump Dot.

Along the way a myriad of memorable TV faces enter and leave the plot, the girl's Uncle Bill is a town drunk who stinks, has no teeth and is played to the hilt by veteran western journeyman Dub Taylor who made a career out of wheezing. Dub was in complete classic fair like THE GETAWAY and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER as well as the aforementioned THE WILD BUNCH and he also shows up in rude and crude BOF fair like POOR PRETTY EDDIE, THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT and CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE. You might remember that mug from HeeHaw as well. Bruce Kimball plays a mechanic. Who you might say is Bruce Kimball? He had a great career for a guy who looked like a fucking pig, seriously. He is the Pig Keeper in THE PIGKEEPERS DAUGHTER, he showed up in THE PINK ANGELS, DRACULA vs. FRANKENSTEIN, THE MIGHTY GORGA, BRAIN OF BLOOD and too many more to mention. If you are wanting to pick a bit character and follow his career, Kimball has a nice library of exploitation and horror to make even the most jaded smirk. About half the cast can be seen, it is worth noting, in the 1973 outing SUPERVAN, one of my favorites if for no other reason, George Barris, the King of Customizers shows up and his crazy auto creations are all over the screen. I'm digressing, point being MOONSHINE has cred.

Since Kentucky has already been mentioned once, I might as well mention the screenplay from one time Kentucky resident Hugh Smith. Smith scribed such grimy grunt as THE STUDENT BODY, THE GLOVE (Ross Hagen directed!) and NIGHT CREATURE but we will always best love Hugh here at BOF for showing up in the Billy Girdler classics THREE ON A MEATHOOK and THE ZEBRA KILLER. Hugh not only had parts in Girdler's films but if you believe Hugh (take a look at the magnificent Hugh Smith interview at www.williamgirdler.com) he considered himself a full partner at Mid America Pictures. Hugh also showed up in the obscurio INVASION OF THE GIRLSNATCHERS. One of the few fabled Brains on Film features which carry the moniker "Incomprehensinema," Invasion is featured on BOF V2.0#3. Smith is still at it, writing, editing and even teaching as far away as Korea. I have to give Hugh Smith credit, Mister, you damned sure delivered on the shit-meter and you know that is just all right with me. Smith has a resume, which to ol' Prof. Tread ranks up there with some of the best.

Speaking of resumes, now is as good a time as any to talk a little about John Saxon, the man deserves more than I can give him in just one review and it is only a matter of time before a full blown Saxon tribute ends up in the BOF coffers. If you only look at Saxon's credits up til 1977 when Moonshine was released, he still has almost 60 credits to his name. The man is still working today! From Italian crime and horror to TV miniseries, sometimes I think Saxon never met a script he didn't like. Rugged, tanned and tough his only noticeable shortcoming was a prematurely receding hairline. Saxon's work with greats like John Huston, Chuck Haas, Mario Bava, Antonio Margheriti, Dario Argento, Wes Craven and many more, really make John Saxon a fan boy's wet dream. But like many of the greats, Saxon is under-appreciated and overlooked sometimes by those caught up in the fandom of all things Italian cinema in nature. Rarely when these movies are reviewed or talked about does Saxon's performances get mentioned. More times than not these films are discussed without ever even mentioning the casts. Too bad, some how these "great" Italian directors can "do it all." Horseshit. Saxon you rule, the band and John. More coming, I refuse to ignore the greatness!

MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS is just short of being great mainly because of its almost made-for TV sensibilities, straight PG rating, we get a few "sumbitches" from Starkey, a "shit" or two and no gratuitous hillbilly babies. Too bad really because Claudia Jennings spent much of her short career naked and it is hard to truly 'sploitate hicks without showing some ass. But Trikonis, caught in made-for-TV land took the safe road and decided to utilize Marsha Brady as the bad girl, but there was no way in Hades, the great name of Marsha, Marsha, Marsha would be besmirched, so we end up with a moonshining picture for the kids…but the violence is another story. Each shoot-out is ultra bullet laced and folks do die. You know the drill, blood not boobs, wouldn't want to upset the kids.

Track down MOONSHINE COUNTRY EXPRESS, invite the kids in the room and try and explain what moonshine is and why The Fatman is fishing in his bathroom and hooks a brassiere. Glug, "wooohoooo!" "Kids sit the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks down, J.B. Mutherfuckin' Johnson's got his 'Cuda revved up and Marsha's wearing a tube top!" "Momma, fetch me another jar!

Shhheeeewwwwwww Barracuda!

Dub Taylor!
Dub Taylor as Uncle Bill!

John Saxon!
You tell 'em J.B.

Hot Rod Down!
Nice shot Gus Trikonis!

Okay now spread 'em, no, not your cheeks!!

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Moonshine, Moonshine, Moonshine!

Moonshining can be a dangerous business.

Just ask this feller!

Maureen McCormick, Marsha Brady, short shorts and shotgun.

Big Bigness!
"I'll have a Meat Lovers with everything but the kitchen sink, and a Diet Coke.

Betty (Claudia Jennings) and Dot (Susan Howard) and hats.

J.B. Mutherfuckin' Johnson, John Motherfuckin' Saxon!

Women with guns!
Betty and Dot take aim!

Bad Boy!
Sweetwater...a bad guy dressed in white.

Sissy takes a shine to the shine...

Here Piggy!
A Southern Sherriff, usually a bad sign in a moonshine movie.

Getting some air white lightening style!

Big Bill!
"I wish these cigars were pure milk chocolate."

The very cute Claudia Jennings.

Wow, now that is good liquor!

Big John Saxon!
Smile King John, we love you man!
Brains On Film 2003