Tag Archives: b-western

Movie (& Old Television Broadcast!) Review: THE WAY OF THE WEST (1934 / Summer ’99)

Certainly longtime readers (of which I have at least a few) will recall my affinity for the “B-Western.” That is, the poverty row or otherwise lower budgeted films of the western genre from the 1930s and 1940s. These cheapies weren’t limited to the 1930s and 1940s, but those two decades are certainly where the majority of my favorites hail from. I grew up on a steady diet of these offerings, via my much-loved and much-missed WAOH TV-29 (which I extensively detailed here), and it’s a fandom that continues to this very day. Of course, we’ve seen posts on the subject here on the blog prior (proof #1, #2 and #3).

Well, recently I was poking around b-westerns.com (an utterly indispensable site with a veritable wealth of information on the subject) when I decided to click on the vaaaaaaguely-familiar name of Wally Wales. It was while perusing their biography on him that my eyes fell upon a mention of one of the studios he worked for: Superior Talking Pictures. This perked my figurative ears right up, because Superior Talking Pictures, man, you wanna talk cheap, they were C-H-E-A-P. Monogram offerings were practically Spielbergian productions in comparison to Superior! They were terrible in the best way; because of this, I’ve held a serious interest in their offerings for years.

So anyway, I looked at Wally Wales’ filmography, and stumbled upon the title of The Way of the West, from 1934. The synapses in my brain began firing, and I progressively dredged up the memory: I taped that one back in the day! A thankfully-quick dig through my VHS boxes (helped by the recollection of the tape brand I had it on) unearthed the object of my desire, and so here we are.

Excepting specialty video dealers, the only normative way for most folks to catch & keep many of these B-Westerns back then was through the magic of VCR, provided you had a regular television outlet for these films – which I did. That has since changed exponentially; the public domain status of many (most?) of these flicks has meant a variety of DVD releases, never mind the legal online options. The Way of the West seems to fall under both categories – there were/are DVD editions out there, and even the Internet Archive has it for free viewin’ and/or downloadin’.

I’d certainly be interested in acquiring a shiny, factory-pressed DVD edition of the feature, but there’s something to be said for taking a trip back in time via a VHS recording. I have no exact date, but it’s from the summer of 1999 – a whopping 21 years ago! My recording is old enough to drink HAW HAW HAW! The sobering realization that 20+ years have elapsed since I taped this notwithstanding (talk about time shifting!), it’s fun to revisit a specific time and place in my personal history – especially since I have zero recollection of ever actually watching this recording! And even better: it’s from TV-29 (via America One Television’s syndication), so there’s some fun extras present, too!

We’ll take a look at those accoutrements momentarily, but for now, let us dive into the cinematic marvel that is Superior Talking Pictures’ The Way of the West

Our title screen (duh!)

I could be awfully choosy about what I did and didn’t keep where VHS recording was concerned back then, and truth be told, I’m really not sure why I decided to keep The Way of the West. I don’t know if I even realized this was a Superior Talking Picture back then (the pertinent info isn’t front-and-center on the opening screen seen here; it’s buried at the bottom of the following screen). Maybe it had to do with the mystery surrounding the leading man of the movie, as recounted by America One movie host Alan Stone before the picture? (Stone’s intro is one of the accoutrements we’ll look at after the movie, by the way.) Or maybe it was the involvement of, as you can see here, Art Mix, who I was familiar with back then. Or maybe I just liked the title and obscure creakiness of the whole thing, I dunno. Not that I’m complaining, of course.

Looking at the screen capture here, you’ll notice right above the title the specific notation of “The American Rough Riders.” Now, there was indeed a Rough Riders series of westerns, but they came later and were a product of Monogram. So, I’m not quite sure what the header alludes to here. Wally Wales is more or less a solo hero in this one, so was this an already-known group of silver screen names that Superior was capitalizing on, something Superior was trying to gather attention with, or…? At any rate, the more well-known Rough Riders had nothing to do with these Rough Riders. Maybe that’s why I kept the recording? I would have at least known of the later Rough Riders at that time, so maybe this struck me as weirdly funny?

The plot? (Some spoilers ahead, like anybody cares.) Hey, did you know that cattlemen and sheep herders were (are?) mortal enemies? I sure didn’t, but that’s exactly what this movie posits; that those in charge of cattle hate those in charge of sheep with a deadly, all-consuming passion.

That’s what drives the plot here: the government gives out land for grazin’ and whatnot, with no regard for whether the animals doing said grazing are big smelly milk machines or cotton covered creatures. Well, Dad Parker and his two children, ‘Fiery’ Parker and her younger brother Bobby, have some of this gub’mint granted land and a huge herd of sheep – and that draws the ire of one Cash Horton and his cohorts (one of which is the aforementioned Art Mix, who had a storied western career; like I said, I knew of him even back then). These nefarious chumps have been enlisted to drive Parker off, and this, needless to say, provides the impetus for our story here.

Wally telling Cash to get lost (or something along those lines)

Standing in defense of the Parker family and solidly on the side of good is Wally Gordon (Wales). Wally comes to the aid of Fiery early in the picture, rescues Bobby from some bullying via Cash’s crew, and is just an all-around good egg. To further demonstrate the burning rage that apparently exists between cattlemen and sheep herders, when queried on the subject of whether he’s a cattle man or a sheep man early in the film, Wally responds: “Well, I try to be just plain human being; sheep or cows, we have to live and let live, you know?” The fact he even needed to elaborate on this points to a rift that, again, I had no idea was a thing. Maybe it was only an issue in the world of the movie?

Wales isn’t a bad leading man, though a tad generic in the role. He certainly fares better than he could have, considering the material he was saddled (HAW HAW HAW) with. You don’t expect much from a B-Western, particularly one that isn’t from one of the big ‘B’ studios (Monogram, Republic, heck, even PRC). Even so, Way is pretty creaky, and more importantly, dumb. Hey, it wouldn’t be a Superior if it wasn’t!

Amongst the inanity (and this is just a sampling):

Awkward camerawork (particularly later in the film) that ostensibly progresses the plot (sheep being herded etc.) but really kind of juts around haphazardly and with obstacles in the landscape (read: trees) partially obscuring the shot. Good enough, I guess!

Also, a few instances in which the dialogue seemingly starts late during a new shot or is awkwardly paused/broken. Forgotten lines, miscues, or poor editing? I don’t know, but it’s pretty funny when it happens!

Regarding the script, it’s often eye-rollingly stupid. Shortly after Dad Parker specifically introduces his foreman (Wally!) to Cash, Cash asks who he is, to which it is then re-explained to him! There’s more than one dumb instance between Wally and Cash, too; the final exchange between them, a callback to a conversation from earlier in the film, is so awkwardly delivered that it’s practically jaw dropping – especially when Cash concludes by having a hearty laugh over it! (Despite his being in custody and about to be put in the slammer…though, oddly enough, without being restrained in any way. I guess this hardened criminal was on the honor system?)

You want amateurish action? The Way of the West has you covered! The fights in this one are bad even by cheapie old western standards. Dig this: early in the picture, Wally knocks a baddie out by raising his arm towards him, and then there’s a quick cut to his fist pushing the bad guy’s face, and then a cut to the guy hitting the ground – unconscious. It’s amazing. Apparently folks in the world of the movie are made of paper; the slightest shoves are capable of knocking people to the ground. And accusing Cash of killing in cold blood, even though mere accusations are all that can be thrown at him at that point? Why, that’s the cue for a huge, yet highly pathetic, bar brawl to take place!

Near the end of the film, Superior realized that speeding the film up (as in, running it at a faster FPS rate) during fight scenes helps, which it does indeed do; too bad that relatively-clever decision actually makes the stuff that came before look even worse in comparison. Prior to that decision, there’s a long drawn out bit where Wally and Cash wrestle on the ground, and instead of the daring fight it’s supposed to be, it just comes off awkward and sad – especially since there’s no music on the soundtrack to enhance the action. (The lack of soundtrack, aside from the open and close of the film, was par for the course for cheapo westerns at that time).

And then there’s the just plain puzzling moments in general. At one point, Wally is pinned down by Cash’s gunfire, so he takes his hat off and uses some nearby sticks to set it up as a decoy so he can make a retreat. Not a bad idea…except that he sets up the hat so low to the ground that Cash couldn’t possibly see it. And if he could, then he could also certainly see Wally exiting.

Among the most “say what?” moments of the movie: at one point, some unconscious bad guys are “humorously” dumped in a watering trough. (The actors tend to flinch when they first hit the water, but don’t let that destroy the illusion, okay?) Sound lighthearted enough? Well, considering one of them is dropped in face down while ostensibly unconscious…

And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s heroic-yet-comedic relief provided by young brother Bobby Parker. I have yet to see a B-Western where a kid in such a role doesn’t annoy me to some degree. His accidentally almost shooting an unsuspecting guy in the head is actually treated with frivolity! Later, he’s enlisted to go undercover to find proof that Wally didn’t kill a guy in cold blood – as if a little kid skulking about wouldn’t be suspicious. (Of course he overhears a conversation that needlessly explains the frame-up in detail.)

Oh, and by the way, Wally is secretly a government agent sent to investigate the cow/sheep war, but this point has no real bearing on the story and thus never really goes anywhere; it’s just kinda ‘there’ by the end of the picture. So why even include it in the first place?

But you know what the ironic thing about all this is? For a Superior Talking Picture, this really isn’t that bad. Is it cheap and creaky and occasionally amateurish, even outright stupid? Oh, without a doubt. And yet, considering how bad these Superiors could be, The Way of the West actually kinda succeeds in comparison. It’s hardly a beacon of B-Western movie making, and you don’t go into these things expecting a highfalutin experience anyway, but it still fares considerably better than, say, Range Riders, which could probably be considered the high (low?) water mark of Superior Talking Picture ridiculousness-in-every-facet. (Indeed, I once had an extensive DVD review of the film up here at the blog, though it’s currently reverted to draft-form for revisions; maybe I’ll get around to re-posting it at some point, provided I feel industrious enough.)

So yes, The Way of the West, it’s technically terrible, but a lot of fun to watch in a “bad movie night” sorta way. Its flaws are myriad, but except for that whole “potentially drowning a guy” thing, I guess it doesn’t do anything too offensive…

Oh…oh wow…

…OH HEY WAIT A SECOND WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!

Is, is t-that a freakin’ swastika on Cash Horton’s back?! It sure is! Boy, the dude’s an even bigger bad guy than he first appeared to be! I guess there’s no better way to say “HEY THIS IS THE VILLAIN OF THE PICTURE” though, is there?

ACTUALLY, before it became known as the symbol of, erm, you know, the swastika had a number of different iterations and meanings. Indeed, this isn’t even the first time I’ve seen it in a B-Western. Here, let Wikipedia tell you more.

The trivia section of Way‘s IMDb page says it was meant as a Native American good luck sign. I believe it; besides the fact the ‘bad’ version of the symbol is slightly different anyway, we’re talking pre-WWII film making here; it wouldn’t make much sense to put the Nazi symbol in a movie of this nature anyway. As we’ve seen, Superior could do some dumb stuff in their movies, but that would be particularly head-scratching.

Nevertheless, none of that changes the fact that the image does provide an initial “HUH?!”

(By the way, this is the scene where Horton shoots Dad Parker in cold blood. Dad winds up dying from his injuries, so just ignore the fact that it seriously looks like Horton shoots him in the posterior, okay?)

So, that’s The Way of the West. Okay, sure, from a technical standpoint it’s a terrible movie. Or at least, not a very good one. But you know what? I had a lot of fun watching. It held my attention, and while it’s not the chief offender in Superior’s oeuvre, there’s enough eyebrow-raising moments to be found to make it worth your while. Boy am I glad I taped it forever ago!

The discovery of new old stuff like this is just what made young me so addicted to TV-29 and America One’s syndicated offerings that 29 presented on a daily basis. Indeed, considering I (to the best of my recollection) never actually watched the recording, I guess this is as close as I can get to recreating those days of my youth.


HEY, WAIT! We’re not done just yet! Remember, I promised to showcase some accoutrements that were part of this broadcast! There were four moments outside of the movie that struck my interest. Three of them were commercials, but the fourth was this:

Alan Stone! Stone was the host of America One’s movies at the time. If you scroll waaaaay back up to the start of this article and read my TV-29 retrospective link (here, just have it again), you’d see how much I liked this guy. In fact, after that article, I did an online search for him, hopefully to find where he wound up after his A1 duties were finished. Maybe I could get a hold of him for an interview – or at least an autograph. Sadly, I didn’t turn up anything helpful.

Stone appeared before and after movies on a daily (nearly daily?) basis at the time. Unfortunately, his outro was cut off by me (mistake!) on this recording, but I kept the intro. Stone mainly talked about the many names Wally Wales was known by throughout his career (seriously, look it up!), and as he often did, displayed some of his dry humor with a “so you figure it out” after naming several of Wales’ monikers off.

For this broadcast, obviously this was part of America One’s “Western Theater” showcase, which specialized in movies just, like, well, just like this one. (Aw okay, they usually weren’t this chintzy!) It’s strictly thanks to Western Theater that I’m the B-Western fan that I am today!

Instrumental Legends Compilation Ad! Okay, so when it came to broadcasts on TV-29, there would typically be two ways the commercial breaks during a respective broadcast could go: ones that split time with ‘national’ ads and locally-produced spots, as you would tend to expect of an independent station. But then, there were other broadcasts where it was strictly ‘national’ ads; ITT Tech, mail order music and videos, things like that. It’s the latter category that this broadcast we’re looking at now falls in. I’m okay with that though, because the music compilation commercials present, the ads are practically burnt into my mind, so often were they run back in the day.

Many of these commercials were for Cornerstone Promotions comps, and that’s the case with what you’re seeing now: Instrumental Legends, a two disc (or cassette) set comprised entirely of instrumental oldies. I actually own this one (collecting these Cornerstone CDs has become a hobby of mine, thanks mainly to these commercials I saw endlessly back in the day), and there’s a lot of good stuff on it – provided you like instrumentals, of course. (Check out that Discogs link and judge for yourself!) And look at that screencap; it may be hard for some to remember a time when two CDs could run nearly $30, and two cassettes were nearly $20!

Malt Shop Memories Compilation Ad! Of all of the Cornerstone Promotions commercials I saw back then, there was perhaps none more played, or memorized by yours truly, than this one: Malt Shop Memories, another two disc/tape set, this one focusing on 1950s jukebox-worthy tracks; stuff you’d supposedly hear in a – say it with me – malt shop. Go figure! (Be forewarned: there’s more than one compilation that goes by the title Malt Shop Memories, but this is the one burnt into my brain.)

Since I’m very much a 1950s &1960s rock guy (in all the various forms the vague term of “rock” entails when applied to those two decades), this set is very much right up my alley. Looking at that Discogs link, you’ll see that the set leans towards slower, Doo Wop tracks, though I’m just fine with that.

Unlike the preceding Instrumental Legends commercial, which mainly featured happy couples and ‘relaxing’ images (flowing streams and whatnot), this Malt Shop Memories commercial went all out in recreating the stereotypical 1950s malt shop, complete with teens in period-appropriate clothing, dancing, and just enough lip-syncing to make me feel embarrassed for the actor. Oh how I love this commercial; it just may be my favorite music compilation spot of all-time!

Pinkard & Bowden: Gettin’ Stupid Ad! Another one I practically know by heart, though despite the (seeming) ubiquity of the commercial at the time, in comparison to the preceding two collections Gettin’ Stupid is actually kinda tough to find, or at least sells for a bit more.

Pinkard & Bowden were a comedy country music duo, specializing in parodies of popular songs and humorous originals. Think of a countrified Weird Al Yankovic x 2 or something like that. The ad plays up the comedic aspects of the duo by having them lip sync and act out in costume some of the songs found on this collection.

This commercial, obviously it was still running by 1999, but apparently the compilation first released in 1993. One of the things I find my most interesting about it now is seen in the screencap here: the option to purchase it on vinyl. I consider, roughly, 1990-2005 to be the ‘lost years’ of vinyl, and releases within those years, after the format lost mainstream popularity and before it made a welcome comeback, to be of extreme interest. If the CD version of this comp is tough to find, I can only guess how obscure the vinyl is!

(The option to buy on the seemingly-dead vinyl format was often seen on these mail order advertisements throughout the 1990s, and as someone who scours a lot of vinyl at thrift shops and whatnot, I can tell you used copies of these don’t turn up nearly as often as I’d like. A 1991 Bobby Vinton comp was and is cool, but the big find in this category for me over the last few years? Andy Griffith’s 1995 Gospel music collection. I remember the commercials for that one, too; I do believe they were still airing well after ’95.)


There you have it: a movie review, an old television broadcast review, and a look back at what comprised my cinematic interests 21 years ago. (Hey, some things never change!) Stuff like this provided the foundation for not only my ongoing love of the B-Western genre, but also local programming (even though, technically, nothing here was really locally produced).

This was a fun article to write, and definitely a fun broadcast to revisit, or visit, depending on how you look at it. Maybe some of the content here will be hard for people to understand just why I’m so enamored by it, but if nothing else, maybe I’ve introduced another good bad movie for y’all to throw into the queue. That’s something to be proud of, I think? Whatever.

DVD Review: A BIG BOX OF COWBOYS, ALIENS, ROBOTS AND DEATH RAYS (S’more Entertainment, 2011)

You know how much I love budget DVD compilations of old movies; I’ve gone to that well more than once here on the blog. I don’t claim to own, or even seen, all that the “genre” has to offer, and so, it’s always a thrill to find a new, unbeknownst-to-me set – especially one that makes my eyes figuratively pop out. S’more Entertainment’s A Big Box of Cowboys, Aliens, Robots and Death Rays is absolutely, without a doubt one such DVD collection.

This was released in 2011, seemingly to cash in on the hype surrounding a movie I have practically zero recollection of: Cowboys & Aliens. I haven’t seen it and I have no intention of seeing it.

Still, I always love it when a new home video release plays into the vibes of a then-current Hollywood product; we saw this big time with Sons of Kong, and in the same vein comes A Big Box… That is old, public domain movies, in this case B-Westerns with elements of science fiction and/or horror, put together to “ride the wave.” All four of my regular readers will recall how much I love B-Westerns, and when they broke out of the mold and included elements not commonly associated with the genre (that is, sci-fi and horror), as we saw this past Halloween season with 1944’s Wild Horse Phantom, well, that’s just double-interestin’ to yours truly.

Given the title, I was expecting an actual box set, but when my copies arrived (that’s right, copies. I had to order these, and I got two; one to watch watch/review, and one to keep minty sealed fresh cause that’s how I roll), but in reality, what arrived was a four-disc, eight-movie set (two movies per disc, giving them a nice “double feature” feel), all housed in a standard-size DVD case with four hubs inside. Rest assured, I prefer this packaging; it’s a sleek, compact design that doesn’t take any extra space on the figurative DVD shelf, but with enough weight to it to really feel like a product, if that makes any sense. I dig it, is what I’m saying.

I like the cover art. The robot on the horse seems to be a modified version of the ‘bots seen in the first movie of the set (more on that momentarily). As you can see, the graphic artist in charge put him on a horse, threw him in a western village, and gave it a flying saucer to loom overhead – complete with big ol’ explosion! This art is also found (in slightly animated form) on the DVD menu screens, and I like it a lot – even if there are no actual flying saucers in any of these films. It absolutely gets the point across, and appears competently made to boot. Well done, me says!

So now, let’s check it out, disc by disc. Being such old films, the print quality obviously varies movie by movie, as (I hope) you’d expect. Yes, there are splices, scratches, dirt, dust, and quite often the edge of the frame is plainly visible. I don’t mind any of that one bit. The print quality lends these films an added air of old-time matinee charm, and besides, scratches or not, they’re all uniformly watchable.


Disc One: The set kicks off with a bang, with Radio Ranch, a 1940 feature version of the 1935 serial The Phantom Empire. This film alone basically sums of the title of the collection as a whole. Starring Gene Autry (in his first lead outing), the flick combines the singing cowboy sub-genre of B-Westerns with a legitimate science fiction bend, and from start to finish, it’s pretty wild.

Gene hosts a daily radio program from the aforementioned “Radio Ranch,” a showcase in which to sing his songs. He’s amassed quite a following; he even has his own fan club on the premises. Unfortunately, not everyone loves Gene’s show; a group of scientists want him off the land so they can harvest the valuable radium deposit right underneath.

Oh, and also located directly beneath the ranch? A lost underground civilization, and guess what? tThey want Gene outta there too. (These are the “aliens” of the collection’s title; no outer space fellas in this one!) The underground city is a trip; it’s a sprawling underground city (think of a cut-rate Metropolis), complete with goofy-lookin’ robot servants, citizens that can’t breathe our air and thus need oxygen masks (we can breathe okay down there, though), and a really icy (as in disposition) queen ruler.

Since it’s a condensed version of a 12-chapter serial, it stands to reason the flow of the film is a somewhat disjointed, but you know what? It’s a lot of fun, and a good summation of what this DVD set is supposed to be about.

Nearly any film is going to appear tame by comparison, but even so, the next feature on the disc, 1936’s Ghost Patrol, seems really tame, which is too bad because the title of Ghost Patrol is pretty cool. But in actuality, it’s a talky Tim McCoy vehicle, and while there is a legit sci-fi element to it, it doesn’t appear in full until the last 15 minutes of the feature, and even then nothing much happens until the last 4 minutes. As such, this is more of a straight B-Western than anything.

In it, a scientist has been captured by baddies and forced to perfect a death ray, capable of causing a plane’s engine to fail. Said baddies use this to bring down planes carrying the, as you would say, big money. Tim McCoy is a government agent out to put a stop to such shenanigans. Also present is the scientist’s daughter, who…doesn’t do much of anything, honestly.

Ghost Patrol isn’t a bad film, but a little slow and definitely a huge step down from the wackiness of Radio Ranch. Still, neat title


Disc Two: For the sake of full disclosure, I muse admit that when I first dug into this set, this was the disc I started with. Under normal circumstances, I steadfastly refuse to enter in the middle of things, as it were. Nope, I like to start at the beginning and go in order until it’s finished. So why the deviation this time around? Two words: Ken Maynard.

No joke, Ken Maynard is my favorite B-Western actor, and quite possibly my favorite western star period. I haven’t seen a film of his that I haven’t liked to some degree, and the first feature here, Tombstone Canyon, is a flick I’ve been jonesin’ to watch. I actually already owned it, as both a standalone DVD and an old VHS release, but for one reason to another, I just never got around to checking it out, despite its cool concept.

(In fact, the whole reason I stumbled upon this DVD set in the first place was because I was researching different releases of Tombstone Canyon.)

Tombstone Canyon falls much more on the horror side of things than the previous two films. In it, Ken rides into town at the insistence of an old friend, but to get there he has to pass through the titular location, and that’s where the trouble starts. Not only are there some villains running rampant right from the start, but more distressingly, there’s someone dubbed “The Phantom Killer” roaming the canyon. He makes weird howling calls, he’s really strong, and he has no qualms about killing people. The character lends a creepy, engrossing air to a film plot that would have been standard western fodder otherwise.

The ending is also slightly abrupt, but in a good way. Think of some of those shocking endings in certain episodes of the original Hawaii Five-O or Miami Vice, where there’s some violence, and then it just ends. It’s a little like that, and it works really well. The entire climax of the film is terrific, come to think of it.

Tombstone Canyon also boasts the best film print of all 8 movies in this set. Oh, there’s scratches and dirt and such, but the image itself is beautifully sharp and clear. It even looked good while being unnaturally stretched to widescreen on my HDTV. (I refuse to fiddle with the picture settings.) Add that on top of an already phenomenally entertaining flick and first-rate star, and you’ve got easily my favorite movie in the entire collection.

The second disc starts strong and finishes strong, with 1937’s Riders of the Whistling Skull. I’m not sure if this or Radio Ranch is the more famous example of the “weird western” sub-genre, but it’s certainly a heavy-hitter. An entry in the long-running Three Mesquiteers film series, Riders… may be a little (but just a little) less overtly nutty than Radio Ranch, but it’s still pretty out there.

Here, the Mesquiteers get involved with an expedition into a lost city, where a fortune in gold resides. A scientist had previously traveled there but never returned, so it’s up to his daughter and crew to try and rescue him. Along the way, there’s a weird Indian cult (complete with a guy dancing around in a skull mask), murder, some double-crossin’, a skull-shaped mountain (not that one!), even a temple with some mummies! A standard B-Western this most certainly is not!

A ton of action, too. In comparison to how the first disc ended, Riders… is incredibly action-packed. It’s a pretty good movie as a whole too, and since I’m not a big Three Mesquiteers fan, that says a lot.

I dare say that of the four discs, this second one is the strongest of the lot. Two excellent films that are pretty much worth the price of admission alone.


Disc Three: The second half of the collection opens with an entry in the “Renfrew of the Royal Mounted” series, 1940’s Sky Bandits. As you may surmise, Renfrew was a Canadian Mountie, and with the Yukon setting, this isn’t technically a western film, but these Renfrews are (seemingly) usually lumped in with the genre anyway, and besides, it has all the other correct ingredients.

Another reason this inclusion fits perfectly? According to Wikipedia, it’s actually a remake of Ghost Patrol! The plots are strikingly similar; both feature a scientist under the thumb of some unscrupulous types, both feature a death ray that is used to bring down airplanes in order to extract valuable cargo, and both feature the scientist’s daughter showing up to get in the way.

Sky Bandits is a better movie by far, however. It moves much faster, with more action, more usage of the death ray, and with some real comedy relief provided by Dave O’Brien as fellow Mountie. Even the daughter actually has a real bearing on the plot here. Throw in a couple inexplicable-but-fun musical numbers, and you’ve got a fun, breezy flick. I had never seen a Renfrew before, but I genuinely enjoyed this movie! More than I was anticipating, quite honestly.

Next: 1938’s Gun Packer, which is the most ‘normal’ western movie in the entire collection (though it’s a close call between it and Ghost Patrol). Honestly, it’s practically a straight B-Western. Oh, there’s a scientist on the premises, and he’s devised some weird method for making gold “disappear,” as well as created a highly-explosive liquid substance, but the science fiction threads aren’t overt at all here.

Unfortunately, Gun Packer also demonstrates the era in which it was produced. Our hero has an African-American sidekick, played by Ray Turner, and, well, he portrays the kind of stereotypical comedic character that was common in movies at the time. It’s pretty uncomfortable, and it’s in cases like this that a film has to be watched with a historical context in mind.

Fun Fact: Dave O’Brien and Louise Stanley are in both of the third disc’s offerings, making me wonder if the pairing was intentional. Stanley is the usual female lead in both, but O’Brien’s roles are polar opposites; goofball comedic relief in Sky Bandits, one of the bad guys in Gun Packer.


Disc Four: The final disc of the collection starts with 1941’s Saddle Mountain Roundup, an entry in the “Range Busters” series. Another one of those trio films like the Three Mesquiteers, (Max Terhune plays the jokey ventriloquist member in the examples of both found in this collection), there are very strong horror overtones in this one.

In it, cranky land owner Magpie Harper is convinced someone is trying to kill him and, well, he’s right. The Range Busters, already hired to watch over his property, try to figure out who done did it.

Sadly, like Gun Packer, the racial stereotypes of the era rear their head again, this time in the form of Chinese cook (and occasional suspect) Fang Way, played by Willie Fung. His sometimes-shifty behavior, nearly-incomprehensible English and scatterbrained demeanor are wildly unacceptable today, so again, this is a case where you have to view with historical context in mind.

That’s the only serious blight on the movie though, because otherwise, I genuinely enjoyed it. Creepy cinematography, rain storms, a murder mystery, cloaked figures, a cave that is essentially the fill in for an “old dark house,” horror vibes are found throughout. The plot is fun and at less than an hour, breezy enough.

And that brings us to the final movie of the collection, 1935’s The Vanishing Riders, and boy is creeeeeeaky. B-Westerns weren’t exactly high-budget items anyway (hence the “B” branding), but even so, the cheapness of this one really shines through.

Bill Cody (not the Buffalo one) and his real-life son Bill Cody Jr. (also not the Buffalo one) star as a (former) sheriff and his adopted child, respectively. There’s a deserted town, a marauding gang of thieves, a crotchety old man, a lovely leading lady and a plot to rustle some cattle, but I’m going to be honest with you, only two things stick out to me about this one: 1) Cody Jr., roughly 10 years old, has a role comparable to the other adults, and he gets a lot of screen time doing ‘heroic’ stuff. We’re talking Gamera-movie levels of importance for the kid. Frankly, it’s pretty annoying. 2) At one point both Cody men dress both themselves and their horses up in skeleton costumes in order to scare the thieves.

It’s those skeleton costumes that lend a horror flair to The Vanishing Riders, so it fits the theme of this DVD fine, but for as much as I love B-Westerns, the kid-friendly nature of the flick drags this one down for me.


A Big Box of Cowboys, Aliens, Robots and Death Rays is a pretty consistent collection of horror and science fiction-tinged B-Westerns. The overall theme of the set is just so neat that you (well, I) can’t help but love it. Radio Ranch, Tombstone Canyon and Riders of the Whistling Skull are terrific and worth the price of admission alone, Sky Bandits and Saddle Mountain Roundup are fun, solid inclusions, and Ghost Patrol, Gun Packer and The Vanishing Riders, while not up to the level of the other movies in the collection (in my opinion), are if nothing else watchable examples of the B-Western genre and the matinee vibes said genre exemplifies.

Aside from the few noted and unfortunate racial stereotypes that were products of their time, it’s a pretty easygoing set; for fans of B-Westerns, vintage horror and/or science fiction, or all three, it’s not a bad choice. It appears this compilation is out of print, or at least, Amazon currently has no new copies for sale, but methinks it’s worth hunting down; it certainly stands out from the numerous other budget DVD compilations that have hit the shelves over the years!

VHS Review: TEXAS TERROR (1935; 1985 Vintage Video Release)

“Say, that cover looks kinda sorta familiar!”

If you’re saying a variation of that phrase to yourself right now, it means you’ve read this article. And if that’s the case, it also means you’ve probably got too much time on your hands. That’s okay though; so do I.

Yes, Vintage Video makes a return to my stupid dumb blog, and while the subject this time around is admittedly less eye-popping than Al “Grampa” Lewis hosting Night of the Living Dead, it’s no less rare; old school Goodtimes/Congress/UAV/ etc. budget VHS releases of certain titles are (relatively speaking) a dime-a-dozen, but Vintage Video? These tapes show up far less often, though there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference in value –  it takes someone with the same arbitrary whims as I to go after them, and fortunately for me, I appear to stand alone on that front. (I.e., no one else seems to care as much as I do.)

No joke, more than once I’ve gone out of my way to pick these videos up, regardless of title. I’m not sure if the company was always a subsidiary of Amvest Video, or merely became one later, but either way, I’ve become incredibly fond of their releases. Sure, most (all?) of them were just the public domain staples that nearly every company took a shot at releasing, but there’s a quirky aura about these Vintage Video tapes that I can’t resist. Or maybe it’s just that whole eventual Grampa thing, I don’t know. (If none of this is making sense to you, and there’s a good chance that it isn’t, go read the some 900,000 words I wrote about the subject in the article linked above.)

Anyway, I’m excited for today’s subject for three specific reasons: 1) It’s a pre-fame John Wayne B-Western, his 1935 Lone Star (aka Monogram) entry, Texas Terror, as you can plainly see above. Let it be clearly stated: I love these Lone Stars. You ask me to put together a list of my favorite Wayne flicks, guess what? Blue Steel is going right up there with Stagecoach – a statement I make without hesitation despite the probable destruction of my street cred. I’m a B-Western junkie, and a Wayne fan, so these Lone Stars are directly up my alley.

2) I grew up watching B-Westerns. I talked about this recently; in the late-1990s, our local independent station WAOH TV-29/WAX TV-35 regularly ran syndicated content from the America One Network, and each weekday (and often on weekends, too) they’d play an afternoon “Western Theater.” You wouldn’t be seeing things like The Searchers on the program; oh no, it was the B-Westerns of the 1930s and 1940s that they presented, and at 11/12-years old, I quickly grew to love them – a love I carry with me to this day. America One often seemed to have unique prints of their films, too; not necessarily wildly different prints as far as the actual content of the movie went, but the picture and sound quality of their features could vary quite a bit from more ‘common’ versions found on other networks and/or home video. Coincidentally, and fittingly, the same often goes with these Vintage Video/Amvest releases!

3) I didn’t know this company (these companies?) ever even released any westerns. I mean, it was a safe guess that they did, but listen, I’ve spent far too much time researching these titles, and in the course of that research I’ve seen comedies (Movie Struck), dramas (The Blue Angel), silents (The Gold Rush), mysteries (The Woman in Green), sports biopics (The Joe Louis Story), even action (Fists of Fury), and of course the sci-fi and horror of the Grampa series. But until Texas Terror, never a western. I mean, I assume they put out The Outlaw and/or Angel and the Badman, because nearly every budget VHS manufacturer did, but if so, *I’ve* never seen them. So, when I discovered they not only released a western, but a B-Western, and that B-Western was a John Wayne Lone Star, I got far more excited than an ostensibly-reasonable adult should have. I mean, we’re talking unacceptably giddy here. Needless to say, it had to become mine, and as you may have surmised by now, it did.

In relation to the other Vintage Video titles, this one is a little unique: usually (but not always) for their covers, they’d go with the original poster art, merely flanked with the “Vintage Video” border you’re seeing above (they eventually dropped the border). But here, it’s an original composition; a stock (I guess) shot of Wayne, made to look appropriately old-timey. I dig the ‘western’ font of the front cover cast-credits, though I feel the graphic used for the actual film title is wildly inappropriate; to me, that’s more befitting an 80s horror movie or something. Totally belies the comparatively-quaint creaker (alliteration?) contained within the video, man. But then, that’s that quirky aura I was talking about earlier!

As for the back cover, it follows the general layout of the other Vintage Video products of the period. Sometimes, some of the pertinent information demonstrated the era from which it came; that is, hey, the internet wasn’t around yet! Texas Terror was not made in 1940; it’s absolutely from 1935. Doesn’t sound like that big a deal, I know, but there’s a world of difference between the John Wayne of 1935 and the John Wayne of 1940. (In the same vein, my VV copy of Black Dragons lists the release date as 1949, when in actuality it’s definitively a poverty row product of 1942.)

Also, some of their descriptions could be a little…off. Not bad, just…off. I made the same point in that Night of the Living Dead post. Here, there’s a mention of Wayne’s “great style,” but what exactly that style is is never specified, so it just comes off random. The synopsis would have flowed better had they dropped that part entirely. The “of course” near the end kinda stops the rest of the summary dead, too; the whole thing would run smoother had those two instances been cut. Still, they got the point across, so mission accomplished anyway I guess.

Also, I just realized that the entire description is only two sentences long.

Also also, they spelled “thieves” incorrectly.

Bear in mind, I’m not intending to come off negative here; this tape, and others in the same line, positively exude a budget label charm. Indeed, as the video industry progressed from the 1980s to the 1990s, you saw the major studios evolve, but the budget labels? That quirky charm never really left, and to an extent it continues today with cheapo DVDs, though to me those feel inherently less special; pressing a disc just ain’t the same, bro.

I guess what I’m getting at is collecting these public domain titles on old school budget video labels is endlessly fun. You get a peak at that early (or at least earlier) era of home video, and you often get fairly unique sleeve art, front and back, which is the case here.

(Also, if I ever find out Vintage Video/Amvest/whoever released a version of Blue Steel, I will legit flip my beans.)

So, on to the movie itself…

Lone Star Productions was, from how I understand it, a division of Monogram Pictures. Or was it merely Monogram under a secret name, not unlike Konami with their Ultra Games label? (I’m reasonably sure I’m the only person on the internet to make that reference in regards to a Monogram/Lone Star movie, and if you don’t get it, that’s because there’s not much of a comparison between the two entities at all.) Monogram was, for those not in “the know,” a poverty row purveyor of cheap theatrical entertainment, in pretty much any genre you could think of. Westerns were big business at the time, so needless to say, their output in that field was not inconsiderable.

From my first glimpse of Blue Steel so, so long ago, the thing I found immediately striking about these Lone Star pictures was their introductory sequence; a gigantic sheriff’s star, stampeding towards the viewer, the company’s name boldly emblazoned in the center of it. All of sudden, the thing stops, then transitions to the respective title and credits of the feature, all still contained within the star. And of course, this was always accompanied by a heroic, appropriately-western score.

If you’re wondering just why I find/found these intros so fascinating, it’s because, quite frankly, you didn’t always get such hype at the start of these poverty row westerns. For films that were, more often than not, pretty chintzy (in a good way), the opening fanfare exhibited by the Lone Stars was really pretty unique in the field.

While on the subject, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-John Wayne Lone Star western. Maybe that’s because these are so widely available today due to the star power involved. At any rate, did Monogram give Lone Star flicks to other actors? Yes? No? I dunno.

Actually, it’s the John Wayne factor that makes these Lone Stars so (relatively) well-known nowadays. Just like our tape today, budget releases on VHS were myriad, and that continues with DVD releases from every manufacturer under the western skies. (See what I did there?) I mean, when you’ve got American film icon John Wayne in a bunch of public domain movies, that’s the sort of thing a company looking to get cheap-but-eye-catching product on store shelves has to take advantage of.

Indeed, some of my favorite budget movie releases, on both VHS and DVD, are those of these John Wayne B-Westerns; not necessarily all of them, but rather the ones that use later-era shots of Wayne and/or appropriately ‘epic’ or ‘majestic’ backdrops for their cover art. The intent with these is clear: to make the unsuspecting consumer think these are “real” Wayne movies, and not the creakers they actually are. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love these Lone Stars, and I’m such a B-Western junkie that truth be told I’d head for them over some of Wayne’s later, big time stuff. Still, aside from the fact they feature the same star and are technically moving pictures, there’s just no real comparison between the two. Therefore, the more misleading the cover art for a release of one of these cheapies is (or was), the more appealing it is to yours truly. Go figure!

So anyway, Texas Terror. Through various compilations, I undoubtedly own it approximately 97,000 times over – give or take a couple thousand. Still, until I picked up this neato Vintage Video release, I wasn’t all that familiar with the movie. Blue Steel I know backwards and forwards, and I’ve at least seen a chunk of the others, but Texas Terror? For all intents and purposes, this was a new one on me.

Going in, don’t expect an early prototype of Stagecoach, okay? This is John Wayne, but also sort of, uh, isn’t. Frankly, it’s kinda fun seeing him outside of Hollywood and, I don’t know, ‘raw’ I guess would be the best term for it. The actor is the same, but the acting isn’t. Does that make any sense?

Soooo, all that said, ignoring the young John Wayne factor, and my love of B-Westerns and Lone Stars in general, I gotta admit, after watching it, Texas Terror really isn’t all that good of a movie. I mean, as a B-Western, I guess it’s alright, but as far as these Lone Stars go, there were much, much better flicks. If you’re looking at B-Westerns in general, Texas Terror ranks somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. “Mediocre” seems to sum it up pretty succinctly.

The plot centers around John Higgins (Wayne), the local sheriff, who mistakenly believes he’s killed his best friend Dan Matthews. During a shootout between Higgins and some robbers, Dan is killed by one of the hoodlums; upon discovery, Higgins thinks he plugged him (right screenshot), and subsequently resigns as sheriff and goes to live in the wilderness.

A year later, Dan’s daughter is heading into town to take over her late father’s ranch, when she is, naturally, beset by outlaws (it must run in the family). Higgins, now quite a bit scragglier, rescues her. Despite his heroism, she thinks he was one of the outlaws. Eventually, Higgins cleans himself up and comes back to town, his goal being to take down the gang once and for all. In the course of doing so, there’s a blossoming romance, a huge misunderstanding, and perhaps improbably, a square dance that devolves into a cow-milking-contest.

Oh, and George Hayes is also in this, minus the whole “Gabby” persona. Can’t forget to mention that!

Texas Terror, as previously stated, it isn’t all that good, but there are some interesting aspects to it that help set it apart. First of all, Wayne’s Higgins (I can’t type that without thinking of Magnum, P.I.) grows a beard during his exile period, and this is the only film I can think of where Wayne’s character features full facial fiber (alliteration). Sure, he had a mustache (and quasi-soul patch) in The Shootist, but this is the only instance I can think of where he had a legit beard. (I’m not saying it is the only instance, I don’t claim to have seen every single John Wayne movie ever, but this is certainly the only instance that comes to mind).

Random Thought: is it just me, or does Wayne kinda look like Kevin Love in this screencap?

Also, I appreciate the usage of Native Americans as heroic characters. Here, they’re friends with Higgins, and come to his aid in grand fashion during the film’s climax. Sure, their ‘accents’ may not be politically correct now, but Texas Terror bucks the frequent western trend of treating Native Americans as antagonists. I like that.

These Lone Star westerns often featured cool, though slightly generic, titles, and Texas Terror is no exception. Is the title an indication of Wayne’s character, the outlaws, or the plot in general? Blue Steel was the same way; no in-film reference ever related to the title, but it sure sounded neat.

As for the print and tape quality of Vintage Video’s presentation, this copy is in SP, which is always welcome, though it’s kind of a wash since the source material is so battered. I’m not saying this is the worst Texas Terror has ever looked, but this particular print certainly saw better days prior to VHS release. Besides the not-inconsiderable amount of dust, dirt and scratches, accumulated via untold trips through the projector and who knows how many generations removed, the bigger issue is that this version is pretty blasted. No joke, some of the images are far, far too bright. Look at the screenshots to the right here; the upper-image features a positively ghostly John Wayne, whose face seems to be a part of the wall behind him. And the lower-image? You’d be forgiven for not immediately realizing our heroine is even in the scene!

Still, like the sleeves these sorts of tapes were housed in, seeing the varying picture quality of these budget releases was/is part of the fun with collecting them. No, a major studio probably wouldn’t have put a print in this condition out (unless, say, there was only one known extant copy existing; definitely not the case with Texas Terror), but that’s why there were budget VHS tapes back then. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” could and often did come into play here, but I prefer to think of it more like, hey, the company got their hands on the only print they could, so let the chips fall where they may. Or something like that. Look, it was a different time in home video, and better sources might not have been available, or at least easily accessible. Especially if the manufacturer was a relatively minor player in the game.

So, there you have it: Texas Terror, as presented by Vintage Video, the (eventual?) alter-ego of Amvest Video, from 1985. I still haven’t seen another western put out by either company, and while I can’t really recommend the movie for B-Western and/or John Wayne fans (seriously, Blue Steel is pretty good; go with that one instead), it’s certainly an interesting, and for now, unique, addition to my collection. I’ve got more than a few cheapo John Wayne tapes littering my “archives” (ha!), but this one has automatically become one of the more-notable entries. I don’t say that lightly, either.

Movie Review: Wild Horse Phantom (1944)

“Hey, what’s goin’ on here?! A western movie review – in October?!

Yes, it’s true: Right in the heart of Halloween month, we’re looking at a 1940s poverty row western. But wait! Don’t go closing the tab just yet! This fits, trust me!

Back in the 1940s, Producers Releasing Corporation, or PRC for short, made movies with, erm, not a lot of money. They were, you know, a cheapie outfit – just one of the many poverty row studios that littered the cinematic landscape in that era. At the time, westerns of the budget variety were churned out nigh-continuously by these poverty row players; no joke, westerns were perhaps the preeminent “poverty row product.” So, it stands to reason there wound up being more than a few horse operas sporting the PRC branding. (See what I did there? “Branding!” Because it’s a…oh never mind.)

On that front, PRC had a long line of “Billy the Kid” B-Westerns, the first few with Bob Steele but the vast majority starring Buster Crabbe as the titular character. (Unlike the real-life outlaw, this Billy the Kid was a bit more of a heroic figure; this was matinee material, after all.) Crabbe was no small potatoes at the time, having portrayed Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and even Tarzan. Dude even made it to the Olympics – twice. Of course a studio would be all for him headlining an action-packed film series such as this! (Al “Fuzzy” St. John also starred in these as the comic sidekick, and truth be told, I had forgotten what a spaz his character could be.)

And that brings us to today’s subject, Wild Horse Phantom. Title cards to the left, yo. Released in 1944 (according to Wikipedia and its IMDb page, on October 28 – right before Halloween!), this entry falls, roughly, in the middle of the series – by which point “Billy the Kid” had become “Billy Carson.”

Now look, I really, really love B-Westerns; they’re some of my favorite movies to watch. BUT, I’ll never claim they could vary a whole lot. I mean, these were old west stories filmed on the cheap; how many plot lines could there be? Watch enough of these, and you start to see the same basic story lines repeated over and over, though when the action was good and the stars engaging, it didn’t really matter – bills that seemed to fit Crabbe pretty well, actually.

All that said, when you’ve got a long-running series such as this one, well, sometimes things had to be shaken up a bit, and that’s just what PRC did with Wild Horse Phantom – this is not your typical B-Western! The usage of “phantom” in the title isn’t really an indicator of horror-themes in a western (lotsa them used it), but make no mistake, our movie today has unmistakable horror movie undertones – and overtones! This one really breaks out of the mold, and it’s a lot of fun because of it. Read on!

The movie starts out normally enough: A fellow named Daggett, along with his gang, break out of prison. These guys were busted for robbing a bank, and, it turns out, the breakout has been orchestrated by Billy so he can trail them and recover the stolen money. (Along for the ride is another prisoner, an acquaintance of Billy and Fuzzy, who is unwittingly dragged with the gang; Daggett shoots him dead soon after. While it provides a moment for Fuzzy to grieve early on, it seems to be forgotten in fairly short order.)

At this point, I’d like to mention that this is a “modern day western,” meaning it was (ostensibly) set in the time it was produced. Sure, there’s still six-shootin’ and horses and whatnot, but there’s also then-modern automobiles present. When I was growing up and discovering B-Westerns on WAOH/WAX, I was always put off by these. To me, a western should be set in the old west; in the 1800s, maybe early-1900s tops. While I still prefer my westerns to adhere to my arbitrary standards, I will say I’ve softened on these “modern day” efforts – somehow the 1940s matinee charm is made all the more visible when then-modern accoutrements are present. Does that make any sense? No? Well, whatever.

Anyway, after that non-eyebrow-raising start, the setting get dark – literally. Billy and Fuzzy track Daggett’s gang to an old mine, where Daggett hid the stolen money before their incarceration. As seen here, our heroes skulk about in the dark (right), and eventually wind up spying on the gang as they futilely try to find the dinero. (Daggett can’t remember where exactly he hid it.) It’s at this point where things take a turn for the spooky; y’see, for all intents and purposes the mine here is the equivalent of a haunted house.

No joke – there’s mysterious, cackling laughs, provided by a “phantom” (our titular character, duh!) with a knife. This phantom seems to be on the side of good, even helping Billy and Fuzzy when they’re captured by the gang in surprisingly short order. Still, can you ever really trust a guy that runs around a dank mine and cackling? It’s gotta be a little unnerving, even if you are Buster Crabbe.

Eventually Billy makes it outside (while Fuzzy waits in the mine; more on that momentarily) and does a little investigating. The town in which the mine is located has been essentially wiped out by the aforementioned bank robbery, as the nefarious banker in charge is threatening to foreclose on everyone. You can probably see where things are going here. This moves the plot along, of course, but really, the best scenes are all in the mine. They really do manage to attain an aura of, I guess, an old dark house thriller – an intriguing and nice change of pace for a budget western!

Wild Horse Phantom probably can’t be deemed a ‘famous’ movie; B-Western fans might know of it, but it’s not like you’ll hear it spoken of in the same sentence as, say, Stagecoach. Still, there is one scene that almost has to come up when Wild Horse Phantom is mentioned, not only because it takes the horror elements of the film from a mostly-background presence to front and center, but also because it’s just so, well, PRC.

Because the scenes in the mine are, by necessity, dark, and the object in question was (almost) constantly in motion, capturing satisfactory screenshots was all but impossible here. I tried over and over, too. What you’re seeing to the left is The Devil Bat. Yes, that Devil Bat. As in The Devil Bat, the 1940 PRC horror flick starring Bela Lugosi. To showcase the hidden dangers of the mine, PRC reused the prop!

The scene: Fuzzy is wandering around the mine when he stumbles upon something lurking in the shadows, eyes glowing menacingly. That’s the top image on the left, and believe it or not, it manages to come across genuinely creepy!

The bat of course attacks Fuzzy, though the shots of him scuffling with it are incomprehensible in screencap-form, so the bottom image is the bat showing off its impressive wingspan. How does Fuzzy repel the creature? By biting it. (Don’t ask.)

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that the bat doesn’t get much screen time. His scuffle with Fuzzy is it (though there’s a semi-related incident at the conclusion of the film that’s too dumb to not love). And why exactly is it there? Are we left to surmise that they just get that big in the mine by natural means? Or do we assume it’s one of Bela’s escaped experiments? Questions like this keep me up at night. No matter though, because the fact PRC reused the creature is just too awesome, and really sets Wild Horse Phantom apart from other B-Westerns.

As a whole, it’s a fun movie, and at under an hour (normal for these B-Westerns), it’s fast-paced by necessity. Granted, the breeziness of the film doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for further fleshing out of the story. For example, there’s what seems to be a love interest here, except the whole plot point just kinda peters out and goes nowhere after the initial germ of the idea. Plus, there’s that whole giant bat thing, too.

Still, B-Westerns weren’t high art, and they weren’t meant to be. This was matinee entertainment for the kids, not a serious horse opera. There’s perhaps no better evidence of that than Wild Horse Phantom, a movie that mixes the western, horror, and comedy genres far more adeptly than it should be able to. I really liked it! It’s harmless 1940 poverty row cinema, with plenty of action and, for our purposes today, horror to make it fit during the Halloween season. It’s not the kind of movie that would come to mind first for sure, but it’s a nice, unexpected option if you’re looking for some offbeat entertainment for your Halloween party.

Wild Horse Phantom gets your Northeast Ohio Video Hunter’s full-approval, and as we all know, my full-approval is of tantamount importance. Check it out!

(By the way, where’d I get this movie? This copy comes from Mill Creek’s 20 movie DVD set dedicated to the Billy the Kid series; however, as I haven’t been able to fully devour the entire collection yet, I’m labeling this as a “movie review” instead of my usual “DVD review,” as notating it the latter implies, to me anyway, a review of the whole set – something I can’t satisfactorily do yet. I take solace in the fact that anyone reading probably doesn’t care about trivial matters like this.)