Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold (1984)
The following AHA film review was compiled from archival information and documentation and may not reflect AHA’s current criteria for animal action review and rating procedures.
Although Yellowhair and the Fortress of Gold was filmed in Spain, the story takes place on the Mexican border, where a greedy Army Colonel hires a band of thugs to search for a cave filled with gold. Flores, the head of the gang, knows that the secret of the cave is written on a deer horn that is in the possession of the Apache Indians.
Within the first few minutes of the film, five horses are tripped into traumatic falls by wires hidden by a low trench. One horse actually tumbled down a rocky incline while the rider jumped safely off to the side.
This blatant animal mistreatment garnered Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold an Unacceptable rating. AHA also urged a boycott of the film and subsequently received a strong letter from the producers’ attorneys asking AHA to stop the boycott and letter campaign and denying any animal abuse on the set. AHA responded in a letter welcoming evidence disproving the horse-tripping, but received no reply.
The ongoing expansion of the AHA Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media has raised the standard of care for animal actors worldwide. In addition, technological advancements have created safe alternatives to risky action, enabling filmmakers to maintain their creative vision without compromising the welfare of animal actors. AHA continues to be a vigilant watchdog for animals in film and television and acknowledges the groundbreaking history of this program while expanding and refining procedures to reflect increased knowledge and new challenges.