This was the first film I consciously recall that blended two distinct genres - in this case Western and Horror.
In subsequent years, it has been notoriously difficult to get hold of on DVD and so eventually, a few months ago, I caved and picked up off eBay - for only a couple of quid - the infamous "Dead Of Night" version... which has to be the worst quality DVD I have ever seen.
The hissing, tinny soundtrack nicely complements the blurry imagery (and this is even 'upscaled' with our blu-ray player) that resembles a sixth generation VHS pirate copy. Any hint of strong language has been brutally excised from this edition ("get away from her, you (silence)") and there are a number of dreadful, unsubtle scene cuts (almost as though they were heavy-handed advert breaks).
But then subtly is not the name of the game in Curse Of The Demon Mountain, suspicious minds will figure out the twist within minutes.
At the tail end of the American Civil War, a pair of veterans - Captain Wishbone Cutter (Joe Don Baker) and half-Indian scout Half-Moon O'Brien (Joy N. Houck Jr) - turn treasure hunters when they leave of a cache of diamonds stashed in the mountains. They bring along a geologist to assay the rocks, Amos 'Teach' Richmond (Ted Neeley).
Along the way they stalked by an unseen enemy that shoots black arrows at them, have a run-in with a trio of inbred bushwackers and rescue a damsel in distress (Sondra Locke) from the aftermath of a massacre.
There's even some pretty decent torch-lit cave exploration scenes that ooze with Dungeons & Dragons-ness and there's probably a half-decent movie (at least worthy of a remake) hidden behind the appalling presentation.
It turns out that this representation of the supernatural elements of the film is actually based more on my inaccurate childhood memories of the movie (or perhaps I saw a different cut on TV) than what I saw when I watched Curse Of The Demon Mountain the other day.
The chikara is a guardian spirit-demon that enjoys toying with those who enter its territory unbidden. An ancient elven legends claims it was once the protector of, and provider for, a tribe who lived on the mountain. But the tribe's shaman grew jealous of the attention the mighty bird was garnering, slew it and threw its corpse into the river.
The chikara rose from death as a powerful demon and drove the elves from their home, declaring that no-one would ever be allowed to set foot on its land ever again.
When stalking its prey, the highly-intelligent chikara will endeavour to 'split the party' anyway it can and then pick people off one at a time. For fun.
AC: 3 
Atk: 1 claws, in eagle form, (1d8+1) or 1 arrow (2d6+3)
Move: 12/24 (fly)
- Shape Change: The chikara's natural form is a black, smoky, roughly humanoid-shaped cloud of blackness out of which it can fire a single, black arrow once per round. However, it can also take the form of a member of any of the kindred races (human, elf, dwarf, halfling) for as long as it likes or the form of a giant eagle (whatever form it is, it retains its basic statistics as above). The act of transformation takes a single combat round.
- Immunity: In all its forms it is immune to non-magical attacks, as well as sleep, charm and mind-control spells.
- Territory Control: Within its designated territory, the chikara has the power to cause small distortions of reality. This can manifest as minor rockslides to block pathways, messing with directions (so the party doubles back on itself without realising), creating fog and so on. It rarely uses this power to directly harm its victims as it thrives off their fear and confusion.
- Magic Bow: In humanoid form it is able to produce, almost from thin air, a black, elven bow and a single arrow. It will only fire one arrow, then leave. If any other creatures try to take this weapon it dissolves into mist and floats away.