taking-tiger-mountainTAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN (1983) – The very memorable actor Bill Paxton passed away recently. I’ve been trying to decide which Paxton film appearance would fit in most with Balladeer’s Blog’s world of weirdness.

I considered the horror movie Mortuary (1983) in which Paxton portrayed a bizarre young mortician and slasher. The scene where he hops and skips among the graves is weird, but not quite WTF enough. I considered Brain Dead (1990) but Bill doesn’t have a big enough role. I almost went with The Dark Backward (1991), but that has (rightfully) become too well known over the years.  

Finally, I decided on Taking Tiger Mountain. Not just because of how flat-out deranged that movie is but because of the novelty factor: Bill Paxton’s BODY stars in the film, but his dialogue was all overdubbed by a British man. That odd circumstance always made me want to see Paxton’s infamous “Game over, man … we’re dead, man” whine from Aliens overdubbed by that same British guy saying “I say, something of a sticky wicket we’re in now, eh, lads?”

bill-paxtonPutting all that aside, Taking Tiger Mountain is an artsy black & white post-apocalypse movie which is more Born of Fire or A Boy and His Dog than Mad Max. In the aftermath of a nuclear war the world is in chaos with diseases running rampant, food riots breaking out regularly and the poles knocked off-kilter.   

Mutant rats are on the loose, as are the expected roving gangs of marauders. The makeshift governmental forces are playing a “spinning plates” game of maintaining order through distribution of pleasure-inducing drugs and an “anything goes” prostitution-based economy. Men can be women and women can be men. It’s a mixed-up world, it’s a shook-up world except for Paxton. Will-eye-am “Bill” Paaxxx-ton.

Paxton – well, Paxton’s BODY – portrays Billy Hampton, a male survivor in the U.K. struggling to get by day by day like everyone else. Billy falls into the hands of a clique of female scientists who subject him to experiments intended to brainwash him into carrying out an assassination for them. Think The Parallax View and The Manchurian Candidate but directed by Dennis Hopper on a three-day cocaine jag to picture what this portion of the movie is like.

And by the way THE William S Burroughs helped the film’s director and writer Tom Huckabee with the story. 

Meanwhile, news updates like the ones in Six-String Samurai and Hardware provide a running breakdown on what’s left of the United States. Cannibalism runs rampant (Criswell was right, after all!) and religious fanatics have taken over. Those zealots have been making public examples of people like Richard Dreyfuss and Shirley MacLaine by executing them. For all I know Bill Saluga was also put to death but we don’t get confirmation on that.

At any rate, once the female scientists are done brainwashing Paxton’s body he is let loose to kill his target in Wales. No, I’m serious. Our hero – or at least his ambulatory form – blends in with the other survivors by ingesting drugs and having sexual relations with both women AND men.

SPOILERS: One of Bill’s male conquests ends up killing him and the movie then features the target of Billy Hampton’s failed assassination attempt putting a few things into perspective including the enigmatic title of this very strange but also very watchable experimental product. ++


© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 


Filed under Bad and weird movies


  1. I always thought he was so cute! I never knew about this weird movie though!

  2. Thomas W Huckabee

    Hello Balladeer, I enjoyed your critique of “Tiger Mountain” but wonder where you got the idea that Billy Hampton was voiced by anyone other than Bill Paxton. It’s true the entire film was dubbed in post, except the end credit sequence, but Bill did all his own dubbing. You may have been thrown by the Fellini-esque, rubbery sync and the fact that none of the other actors dubbed their own voices. It’s a long, peculiar story, how these facts unfolded, oft told by me and available on the web; but feel free to contact me off line at for clarification. Meanwhile, a much better digital release of the film should become available sometime in 2017, God willing and the creek don’t rise. Bill was a great creative collaborator, leader, and follower with whom I had the pleasure of working with on dozens of projects over 40 years, finished, unfinished, and merely developed. I dearly wish and expect to see quite of few of these projects, and projects of Bill’s to which I have no connection, come to fruition through various people and platforms, and that the Bill I knew and loved will be better appreciated and recognized as a great artist of many disciplines, catholic in his massive knowledge of the popular and fine arts, whose best work may have been ahead of him. God rest his merry rascal soul.

    • That is very interesting! To me when I watched it years ago I thought there was something off about Bill’s voice so I burrowed in back issues of European Trash Cinema and Psychotronic and they said it wasn’t really Bill’s voice. Maybe they were mistaken because of what you said about the others not doing their own dubbing.

  3. Pingback: MARCH 2017’s BEST | Balladeer's Blog

  4. Arthur

    Weird movie but I think the Dark Backward is weirder.

  5. Louis

    Bill Paxton is missed!

  6. Libby

    Your review makes the movie sound better than it really is.

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