Now it’s making its long-delayed DVD debut — long-delayed if you’re a member of the Charlton Heston family, that is.
The Oscar-winning actor stars (twice!) and directs the film, which is written and produced by son Frasier. Two Hestons (or three, technically) are not better than one, as “Mother Lode” is indeed a load — not of greatness, but of chewy hooey.
The elder Heston commands two roles as brothers Ian and Silas McGee, both grizzly looking and speaking in inauthentic Scottish accents. It’s difficult to tell who is who, which is precisely the point for at least one plot turn, as platonic adventurers Jean (Nick Mancuso) and Andrea (Kim Basinger, in her second movie) fly into the Canadian wild in search of a missing geologist pal, but end up lost themselves. Despite an old man’s warnings not to proceed farther — "A lot of good folks like you go up there and never come back!" — they do, thus meeting the brothers McGee. The crazy one’s spent half a lifetime looking for gold he has yet to find, and isn’t fond of Jean and Andrea treading on “his” territory.
“Mother Lode” is a limp adventure, structured for suspense it struggles to mine, but all for naught. It feels old-fashioned — and probably did upon release — partly because it lacks an edge. It seems predicated on letting Chuck eat up the screen, and that’s what he does, going over-the-top.
One wonders if Fraser knew what he was doing when he put the line of dialogue about “the glory hole” in his father’s mouth, although it’s not mean That Way. It makes for a good laugh by today’s standards, but that’s hardly a reason to watch. —Rod Lott