CURSE OF THE FORTY-NINER (2002) Reviews and overview

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‘They axed for it!’

Curse of the Forty-Niner – aka Miner’s Massacre – is a 2002 American horror feature film directed by John Carl Buechler (Friday the 13th Part VII; Cellar Dweller; Ghoulies III) from a screenplay by Antonio Olivas (Super Shark; Revamped; Fright Club); it stars Karen Black, John Phillip Law and Richard Lynch.

When a young man finds hidden treasure within an abandoned gold mine, he summons his sister, Claire (Carrie Bradac), and their friends to join him in the haul.

The group arrives to discover Claire’s brother missing, and they quickly realize why, undead miner Jeremiah Stone (Vernon Wells) is determined to keep his gold right where he left it and will kill anyone who tries to remove it. Aiding the ill-fated youths are kooky Aunt Nelly (Karen Black) and the local sheriff (John Phillip Law)…


“There are plenty of killings (the body count is quite high) and the fake blood splashes often. Elina Madison supplies the T&A quotient, since we all know the Fair Hair Lead never goes naked or has sex. The deaths and mayhem aren’t really inspired, since most of them come at the wrong end of a pickaxe, and half of the mayhem is shown offscreen (a common problem with low-budget filmmakers).” Nix, Beyond Hollywood

“The tedious atmosphere is compounded by Buechler’s inexplicable and thoroughly wrong-headed decision to eschew instances of blood and gore, as the movie, instead, spends most of its padded-out running time fleshing out the killer’s backstory and attempting to develop the one-dimensional protagonists.” David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

“There’s not much substance to this thrifty effort, but it bears the hallmarks of the early 80s, that earn it a little extra merit, plus some fleeting cameos from some once big names who probably owed some of the producers a favour or two. Points are deducted for flippant characterisations and poor attempts to squeeze laughs in while the story lags between slayings…” Vegan Vorhees

Cast and characters:

  • Karen Black as Aunt Nelly
  • John Phillip Law as Sheriff Murphy + The Three Faces of Terror; Blood Delirium
  • Richard Lynch as Old Man Prichard
  • Vernon Wells as Jeremiah Stone
  • Martin Kove as Caleb
  • Jeff Conaway as Reverend Sutter
  • Brad H. Arden as Forty-Niner
  • Sean Hines as Nick Berman
  • Carrie Bradac as Claire Berman
  • Stephen Wastell as Axl
  • Sangie as Tori
  • Rick Majeske as Hayden
  • Elina Madison as Rox Ann
  • Alexandra Ford as Eve
  • Shadrach Smith as Jared

Filming locations:

Agua Dulce Movie Ranch – 34855 Petersen Road, Agua Dulce, California
Polsa Rosa Ranch – 5726 Soledad Canyon Road, Acton, California
Sable Ranch – 25933 Sand Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, California

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