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A long time ago, probably 30 years, I saw a movie which I enjoyed but have not seen since. It may have been a TV movie. It wasn't Oscar worthy but it was unusual. Most movies are just the same basic tales; the heist, the quest, the love story, fighting an oppressive regime etc. This was different, it was a strange blend of western/buddy movie/horror/supernatural.

These are the scant details I can remember:

Two guys are travelling home, on horseback, after the American Civil War (I think) and rescue a blonde woman from some kind of grim situation. They're in a mountainous area. The woman is mute, possibly from trauma... possibly not; so they decide to take her along with them. Strange things start to happen and I think both men ultimately die. At the end of the film the woman turns into an eagle (yeah really). It turns out she's some sort of ancient spirit beguiling and ultimately preying upon unwary travellers who stray into her domain.

Like I say it's not a great movie but it's refreshingly different enough from most other movies to be an unexpected pleasure.

I can't find it on IMDb because I can't remember any of the actors but the two males leads made an impression. They did a very good "buddy" act so you were rooting for them to escape/survive.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F! I hope you get an answer; it looks like you've covered all the obvious details, but just in case there's a list of suggestions that can help trigger memories. Have you eliminated any possibilities? – DavidW Apr 4 at 15:14
34

The Shadow of Chikara (1977)

Two former Confederate captains set-out to recover diamonds hidden in the mountains of Arkansas but a native spirit named Chikara is said to protect the sacred mountains against intruders.

The review at Moria Reviews gives a bit more of a description:

At the end of the American Civil War, the dying Virgil Cane tells Southern Captain Wishbone Cutter about a cache of diamonds hidden in a cave along the Buffalo River and the route to get there. Returning home, Cutter finds his wife has left him for another man. He sets out with his Irish-Cherokee companion Half-Moon O’Brian and geologist Amos Richmond to find the diamonds. Along the journey, they meet a young woman Drusilla Wilcox, the only survivor of a massacre by Indians, and take her with them. As they head up into the mountain, Half-Moon realises that it is the Mountain of Demons, which is cursed by the spirit of Chikara who promised to kill all who ventured into its domain.

The full film is available on YouTube here and from a quick skim I'm not entirely sure if she is the eagle or just connected to it.

The Shadow of Chikara poster

As you can see, the poster uses a different title. IMDb includes an extensive list of alternate titles:

  • Diamond Mountain
  • Shadow Mountain
  • Demon Mountain
  • The Ballad of Virgil Cane
  • The Curse of Demon Mountain
  • Thunder Mountain
  • Wishbone Cutter

Found by Googling movie western woman "eagle" spirit.

  • 4
    Thanks @TheLethalCarrot, that's the one! You are a master of Google. I'd tried all kinds of combinations of western, mountains, blonde woman, eagle, civil war etc and got nowhere. I didn't realise it was Joe Don Baker in the lead role, no wonder it stuck in my memory, he was always a charismatic actor even in mediocre movies. And you're right I think Sondra Lockes' character was the physical manifestation or servant of the eagle spirit. – Plumbata Apr 4 at 16:02
  • Wikipedia says "Confederate veterans of the last battle of the Civil War set out to find a hidden treasure: diamonds hidden in a cave. However, the soldiers find they are being followed by a mysterious hunter (or hunters) who may have a connection to a mythic eagle spirit." which supports your point of "just connected to it" – CalvT Apr 5 at 16:56

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