Mountaineer (Waynesville)
(NC, US)

6 June 2007

Maggie Turns into Valleywood for Premiere

Peggy Manning - Staff Writer

MAGGIE VALLEY - With all the glamour of Hollywood, “Ghost Town, The Movie” premiered Saturday night in Maggie Valley.

People lined up outside Eaglenest Entertainment shortly after 6 p.m. as limousines began arriving with the cast of the movie creation of Dean Teaster. Cameras flashed as the cast received the red carpet reception before making their way to the facility’s auditorium.

“We made it,” Teaster said before the movie was shown, thanking financial backers Alaska Presley and Robert Bradley for making his dream come true. Then, with the traditional command of “lights, camera, action,” the film lit up the screen.

The movie tells the story of the legendary Harmon Teaster, who avenges the murder of his father and 20 years later comes out of hiding in the mountains of Cold Springs to avenge a brutal attack on his daughter.

Several scenes provoked appreciative response from the audience of 301, including a line from Presley during a card game of “I’ll shut up when you pay up,” and the brief appearance of local moonshiner Melvin “Popcorn” Sutton. As the list of credits rolled past and the lights came back on, the audience gave Teaster a standing ovation.

Veteran actor Rance Howard, who played the role of Sheriff Tom Parker, said he thought it was a well-told story when he was reading the script, and after watching the movie felt it stood up to the story.

“It was a little loud, but it was very entertaining,” actor Terry Knox, who played the part of Mayor Emerson Rogers, said of the resounding gunfire and lightning-like flashbacks.

Most people gathered for the after-glow celebration said the movie was good and served as a tribute to the area that will cause a ripple effect of attention for Maggie Valley and especially the Ghost Town theme park, where much of the movie was filmed.

“When we were working on the film, a lot of people shared memories of Ghost Town and there was a sense of hope so strong about the reopening of Ghost Town,” said Princess Lucaj, who starred as Violet Teaster, the daughter of Harmon Teaster.

“What I enjoyed the most was the haunting image of Susie Teaster (the Cherokee wife of Harmon Teaster),” she said.
Lucaj took time to visit the Ghost Town theme park Saturday prior to the premiere. She said she is grateful for the Native American performers who are sharing the Cherokee culture with guests of the park.

Hank Woodburn, one of the new owners of Ghost Town, said he anticipates a renewed interest in the theme park as a result of Teaster’s movie. People surged to Haywood County to get a glimpse of Cold Mountain after the novel by Charles Frazier was put to the big screen.

“I think the same thing will happen with this movie,” Woodburn said.

N.C. Sen. Joe Sam Queen said the movie combines the best of two worlds - that of a “good ole timey western” and the beauty of Western North Carolina.

“While the movie has legs of its own, I think it will really spread the word about Haywood County,” Queen said.

Mark Clasby, executive director of the Haywood County Economic Development Commission, also predicts an economic boom after the movie is seen by more people.

“It’s a real positive thing for Haywood County,” Clasby said. “The timing with the opening of the amusement park was great.”

Maggie Valley Mayor Roger McElroy and town aldermen attended the premiere. McElroy said the board is looking forward to a lot of growth for the town because of the movie.

“I think the movie will be very well received and will put the spotlight on Maggie Valley. We are studying the business needs that we as a town board must provide,” he said.

Herbert “Cowboy” Coward, who portrays Harmon Teaster, was accompanied to the premiere by his wife and son. It had been 25 years since Coward had graced the screen as the toothless villain in the movie “Deliverance.” He has had several offers for parts in movies since then, but had turned them all down.

“That movie took a lot less of his time than this one,” Coward’s wife, Eileen, said.

Herbert Coward Jr., who does not share his father’s acting aspirations, said it was good to see his Dad on the big screen again.

Younger members of the cast also were among the guests at the premiere, including 9-year-old Jacob Franklin, who said he loves westerns and was amazed at how well “Ghost Town, the Movie” turned out.

“It was even better than I thought it would be,” Franklin said.

Diane Price of Gaffney, S.C., a distant relative of Dean Teaster, called him to introduce herself after learning about the movie. She quickly earned a role as an extra.
“I think everybody did a great job,” Price said.

“This was as good a movie as I have ever seen,” said Ronnie Mills of Canton. “You forget that a lot of the actors are just ordinary local people.”

“I especially liked the scenes that showed Ghost Town,” said Shirley Pinto of Maggie Valley. “The last scenes were very suspenseful,” she added.

Attendees hailed from as far away as Canada and Belgium, said Selina Keller, general manager of Eaglenest Entertainment.

“A lot came from Arkansas, Texas and Virginia,” Keller said.
The reception pleased Dean Teaster, who mingled with the crowd after the showing of the movie.

Teaster’s dream was to develop a fictionalized account of his great-great grandfather Harmon Teaster. He went further by portraying the Ghost Town undertaker in the film, a role once played by his father, Robert Doyle Teaster. At the end of the movie, he adds a tribute to his father.

Teaster declined to add his comments about the movie, but said if his father were alive to see it, he probably would cry.

Others will be able to view the film when it is released to the general public. That date will be announced later.