Release Date: March 3rd, 1978
Directed by: John Fabian, George Lauris, Dick Robinson
Written by: Mollie Gregory
Music by: Al Capps
Cast: C. Lindsay Workman, Rick Guinn, John Freeman
Starfire Films Inc., 90 Minutes
Buffalo Rider was a film I first discovered through a series of comedic YouTube videos called Guy On A Buffalo. I suggest everyone check those videos out. Actually, they sum up the entire movie much quicker and much better than the film does itself. I then ended up seeing the real film when Rifftrax covered it a few years ago. I never had the urge to see it again, but I figured I’d refresh my memory in an effort to review it.
Obviously, from the paragraph above, you can guess that it isn’t very good. However, it is unusual enough to jolt one’s curiosity. It is certainly a manly man picture. It stars a rugged mountain man who tamed a wild buffalo and then rides it across the wilderness while going on a bunch of nonsensical and disjointed adventures.
The “buffalo rider”, known as Buffalo Jones, is a good guy who tries to always do right and to seek out justice wherever he is able to serve it. Granted, he straight up murders people for revenge and tramples a killer to death under the hooves of his big buffalo named Sampson. But for a guy who named his buffalo after a character from the Bible, serving up some Old Testament justice shouldn’t be surprising.
The film is a mess. It plays like a series of vignettes that are horribly edited together to make them even more confusing. Buffalo Rider is hard to follow because you constantly get sidetracked by some new development every five-to-ten minutes. Then you are swept back into another one of the many plotlines that you already dismissed and forgot about.
Then there is a whole ten minute sequence that follows a raccoon as it goes on its own adventure and has to fend off a cougar like a pretty hipster guy that accidentally walked into a cat store full of randy spinsters. This part of the film serves no real purpose other than taking the viewer out of the movie and to extend the film’s running time. Buffalo Rider really doesn’t deserve more time.
The action sequences are a mixed bag. Some of the animal encounters are really cool and well done and I actually have to question if some of it was actually authentic. Also, there is no way that almost every animal in this film didn’t get hurt in some way. In a lot of ways, it plays like a nature documentary. I have to assume that some of the filmed encounters were real and then worked into the plot.
Then there are some really idiotic action sequences. For instance, Buffalo Jones charges into a saloon on the back of Sampson and shoots up the room. Never mind that he is a sitting duck on an awkwardly rampaging buffalo in a really small space. Somehow, he comes out unscathed like a total bad ass.
I also have to bring up the narration. It is reminiscent of how the narration was done on the hit show Dukes of Hazzard. Maybe that was popular, at the time, but it doesn’t help the film and the narration is poorly written. There is also too much of it. In fact, the only way you can even follow this shit casserole is the narration. But spelling out what happens in every scene is overkill and it just means that the film is poorly strung together.
This picture also has some of the worst cinematography I have ever seen. In some action sequences, things are too obscured. In the raccoon and cougar encounter, they are lost in the bushes for a good portion of the fight. Then some shots are completely off center and stuff that should be in the frame is cut out.
Buffalo Rider is awful. Sure, seeing a guy ride around on a buffalo is cool for a few minutes but it doesn’t carry a 90 minute picture. That’s why you would be better off watching the Guy On A Buffalo series on YouTube; it is a far superior version of this film. And all four videos are only like 10 minutes.