Film / The Painted Hills

"Lassie in a revenge picture? What were they thinking?"
Skenderberg, War of the Colossal MST3K Fan Guide, Review of MST3K episode 510:The Painted Hills.

The Painted Hills is a movie starring canine star Lassie as Shep.

Shep is the companion of a grizzled old prospector named Jonathan, who returns from the wilderness to find his partner in his current venture died, leaving behind a particularly whiny kid (Tommy), and an Obviously Evil lawyer (Taylor) in charge of the partnership. Jonathan leaves Shep behind to help Tommy before returning to the mountains, but Shep soon goes on a hunger strike to bring Tommy and Taylor to Jonathan's cabin just in time to save the prospector from dying of fever, thanks to the strange bond between dog and man. While the duo is there, they join Jonathan in panning for gold — and the prospector shows them where he'd been stashing the dust he's collected so far. Inevitably, Taylor catches Gold Fever, and murders the grizzled old guy before Shep's eyes.

Shep immediately begins stalking Taylor seeking vengeance. Lots of contrivances happen along the way, but in the end justice is served, as it must be in movies like this. Afterwards, Shep is ready to die alone in the mountains, but the voice of Tommy in the distance convinces the dog to live.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.


  • Artistic License Biology: Based on the amount of frost that gathers on Taylor's beard, hair, shirt, and hands, he should have died of hypothermia a long time before he falls to his death.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Believe it or not, the dog does it after she's been poisoned — lying on her side, kicking up dirt, and whining loudly.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Pilot Pete
  • Deus ex Machina: Taylor's final attempt to kill Shep off once and for all is foiled by his gun freezing solid.
  • Informed Attribute: At the start of the film, Tommy's mother worries that he "hasn't cried once" over the death of his father; but once Tommy appears on screen, the very first thing he does is burst into tears. Completely unmotivated, at that.
  • Infant Immortality: Taylor had Tommy at his mercy... and spared him.
  • Karmic Death: Taylor dies by falling off a cliff, the same way he killed Jonathan.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: How Taylor sets about getting rid of Jonathan. Initially, he set up a loose rock on a mountain ledge for Jonathan to trip on and fall off the side, but when Jonathan manages to avoid the rock, Taylor resorts to pushing him off, figuring there wouldn't be any witnesses anyway.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Well, growling rampage, but Shep manages to lure Taylor up the mountain where his gun freezes after going into the water and then scares him off a cliff.
  • Start of Darkness: Taylor almost seems like an okay guy, genuinely looking out for his clients' interests, but he sees that there really is gold in them thar hills and becomes Obviously Evil.
  • Revenge of Lassie.
  • Spider-Sense: Shep's Batman Gambit to get Tommy and Taylor to bring her to the besickened Jonathan. "Shep knew!" Tommy gasps. How did Shep know?
  • Tempting Fate: Jonathan doesn't believe Taylor would kill him because "You don't have the guts!" Of course, later on this comes around to bite Jonathan in the hinder. Or, more accurately, push him off the cliff.
    • Taylor even lampshades this trope at the moment Jonathan is offed. It also really bites Jonathan in the butt as he claimed Taylor didn't have the guts to shoot him.
  • Tonto Talk: The Native Americans in the film, naturally.