White Lightnin'

Production Year: 2009
Release Date: 06/28/2013
Studio: MPI
Collection Number: 958

Jesco White's insane life was documented in the 1991 documentary The Dancing Outlaw.  The widely popular film showed the ups and downs of the glue-sniffin' mountain dancer's life and eventually garnered a sequel titled "Jesco goes to Hollywood," in which he well...Went to Hollywood.  In 2009 the men behind the Jackass films put out a third documentary, "The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.  Though this third documentary centered around the White's as a family unit, a lot of time was spent on the mountain dancer.  There were some people who claimed the Jackass boys exploited the White family while showing all of the bad habits of the family with none of the good...I'd really like to know how those people felt about the highly exploitative White Lightnin.'




White Lightnin' is a modern hicksploitation flick about the life of Jesco White.  The story truly embellishes the man's actions into a thing of hillbilly 'lore.  It starts off with Jesco's early years, at a very tender age he develops a huffing addiction which eventually leads to multiple arrests.  His father D-Ray is angered by his son's problems and decided to teach him the passed down art of mountain dancing in hopes to level off his son's addictions.  While Jesco does hone his gift, he ends up taking a hit of speed which manages to send him to a mental institute well into his early 20's.  During his stint he learns of his father's murder and when he is finally released he decides to turn his life around, taking his dancing act cross country.


During his travel he manages to shack up with Priscilla (Carrie Fisher) and they carry on a very tumultuous relationship ruled by Jesco's hang ups and addictions.  He's haunted by his father and will soon snap under the weight of a gasoline fueled yearning for revenge.


As a bio-pic this film fails miserably- It takes a portion of the guys life and branches off into finctional territory.  As a hicksploitation film however this film truly does excel.  It's a widely entertaining odd ball film, the fact that most of the crew are from a different country helped give it an exaggerated feel, almost as if this is how some foreigner people feel life is in rural America.  It's easy to see why fans of Jesco would be put off though.  Essentially it's as if the writer of the film took the first part of Jesco's life then after a night of binge drinking decided to tack on an exploitive murderous conclusion.

One of the best parts of the flick was Carrie Fisher's performance, she's nearly unrecognizable in her role and it's just so strange seeing her sleaze it up!  Edward Hogg did a great job with the character of Mr. White capturing his voice, mannerisms and more importantly some of his dance moves, I'm guessing a great deal of time went into studying the past documentaries.


The film's color is nearly completely drained out giving it an almost black and white color pallet, color does show up more during the later dream sequences though.  The film also has a handful of shots that look like they could have been shot with a super 8, it gives it an interesting tone.  The audio is great, a lot of older rockabilly and even some Hasil Adkins make an appearence, there are also a lot of guttural sounds used throughout the picture.  As far as extras go you'll have to look else where as there's only a trailer attatched.  Disappointment.

While I did enjoy the film a great deal I'd have a hard time recommending it to everyone, I'd say if you're a fan of whacky films set in the south it's one to check out, I'd love to recommend this to fans of Jesco white but I feel most of them would be let down by the exaggerate portrayl of the dancin' outlaw.

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