Cult Movie: Eureka double bill of cult 70s creature features Nightwing and The Shadow of The Hawk hits the spot

The special effects in Nightwing aren't so special
Ralph McLean

Nightwing and The Shadow Of The Hawk

I DO love a good old fashioned cult movie double bill. Stick a couple of low rent scary movies side by side and I'm in like the proverbial Flynn. Make that double bill a pair of Native American-themed killer creature features from the 1970s and I'm practically slapping my admission money on the counter before I've even heard the titles.

Nightwing and The Shadow of the Hawk are a brace of just such intriguing treats that Eureka Home Entertainment have seen fit to glue together on one release for your viewing pleasure. The results are, to be fair, mixed – but while the quality may bounce wildly from class to crass over the combined running time, there's still a ton of cult movie fun to be had in these low budget, high concept offerings.

Nightwing, from 1979, is the slicker of the two. Directed by Arthur Hiller, it's a bizarre tale of killer vampire bats on the loose in an Indian Reservation. A predictable 'killer creatures on the loose' flick, clearly made as movie moguls grappled with ideas of what beasts they could use on screen after the success of Jaws in 1975, Nightwing is lousy on the special effects front (the bats are rubbish, frankly) but better on the community politics of the Native American culture that's being tormented by the clearly plastic nuisances.

Nick Mancuso is Duran, a Hopi reservation policeman who teams up with a left-field scientist Payne (played by genre favourite David Warner, three years on from getting his head sliced off in The Omen) to investigate a series of gruesome deaths that have occurred on sacred ground.

It's been described as an "eco-gothic western", whatever that means, and Quentin Tarantino is a big fan, but truth be told it's a bit of a mess. That it was made by the man who directed such mainstream sap as Love Story and The In Laws only makes it more fascinating, to be honest.

Shadow of the Hawk, the second act here, dates from 1976 and is the better bet even if it's a much cheaper tale of supernatural stirrings in the wild. This is the flimsy story of a westernised grandson who must take his old grandfather back to his homeland, battling evil spirits as they go.

Old Man Hawk is played by Chief Dan George, perhaps the most prominent Native American actor of the 70s, who graced everything from Outlaw Josey Wales to Little Big Man, and the grandson by a very fresh faced Jan-Michael Vincent long before Airwolf would make him a cult superstar of a kind.

Shot in the beautiful forests of British Columbia, it looks stunning even if the special effects are, once again, miserable. Much like Nightwing it's all a load of supernatural nonsense, but it's hugely enjoyable all the same.

Eureka have proudly packaged the two films up with their usual care and attention to detail, with plenty of extras to boot. For fans of Native American supernatural guff like me, it's too sweet a deal to turn down.

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