HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Ghost Town
HTS Overall Score:63
How many times in your life do you get to see a horror western? Yeah, I thought so. I bet the amount in existence could be counted on one or two hands, which is why “Ghost Town” is such a unique entry into Scream Factory’s hall of horror. It was never a classic back in 1988, but the cover alone was unique enough that it got some pretty heavy rental time back on VHS. Enough to warrant an honorable mention in Fangoria to that account. My old VHS copy is about worn out, and probably actually doesn’t play anymore after being neglected for the last decade, but I had to review this disc as I remember being able to watch this one on TV because my parents thought it was a standard western (I wasn’t exactly encouraged to watch horror movies as a 10 year old back then) and while it’s truly never SCARY (but I may be biased, as an avid horror fan NOTHING truly SCARES me anymore), it is steeped in a creepy atmosphere that is equal parts horror and equal parts western.
Langley (Frank Luz) is your average, run of the mill cowboy deputy in 1988. He shoots at tin cans with an old style Colt revolver and is in trouble with his boss for being too lackadaisical about his job. Upon hearing that Kate (Catherine Hickland), the local beauty, has gone missing, he sets out to track her down only to find that where she’s gone may not exactly be best for his health. Stumbling through the desert he comes upon an old Ghost Town that seems to play tricks on his mind. One second he’s seeing people in the streets, having conversations with them, and the next they vanish as if they’ve never been there. Soon it becomes apparent that there may be something supernatural going on, and with some help by the VERY scared locals Langley comes face to face with the evil that keeps these people trapped there.
Long ago, back in the days of the old west, the town of El Diablo (I mean, that HAS to be its name) was home to a wicked villain by the name of Devlin. He terrorized the people beyond their means, and the only person who could stand up to him was the good sheriff Harper (Blake Conway). Harper was only one man though, and Devlin’s outlaws were too much. Cursing Devlin and the rest of the people, Harper died only to send the town into chaos. Stuck between life and death, they live in terror of Devlin for all of eternity, with every person that Devlin kills being stuck between life and death, unable to ascend to a higher plain. Desperate to get out, Langley has to find Kate before it’s too late and send Devlin straight to hell, or end up there himself.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=50281[/img]“Ghost Town” is an interesting film to say the least. I wouldn’t hail it as a resound horror classic, but it’s certainly got tons of spunk. The first act of the film is a tad sluggish, as you are introduced to Langley and the town, but once it gets going with Devlin showing up, the rest of the film hums along at a steady pace until the foregone conclusion that is the ending. That first 30 minute segment though is the hardest to get through, as it drags past the initial 10 minute introduction, with minute after minute of Langley stumbling around the town of El Diablo. Once we get to see the first gunfight between Langley and Devlin, a distinct change of pace happens. Langley gets down to business and starts offing the bad guys one by one and Devlin gets more and more angry as his prey eludes him.
The acting is quite decent, as all three of the main leads do their job nicely. There isn’t a ton of range given by the performances, but the simple 85 minute movie doesn’t exactly ask a whole lot from them. Luz is solid as Langley, a handsome guy who can handle a gun well, and Kate does the obligatory screaming female role solidly enough. Skaggs is the standout as the deliciously creepy Devlin, covered in tons of makeup and prosthetics to simulate rotting flesh and laughing maniacally as he slaughters the townsfolk for helping out the modern day lawman. The film certainly shows its low budget at times, but the directors used the most out of the slim dollar amount they had and kept the show tight and confined to a few set pieces, so they could maximize the quality. The cheap, cheesy western/horror is a lot of fun to watch, especially if you love the golden 80’s and certainly will please the fans of these lost gems quite nicely.
Rated R for bloody violent content, some sexual material and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=50289[/img]The 1080p encode for “Ghost Town” actually looks quite impressive, especially considering the source of the 1988 movie. It didn’t get much love on VHS, as it looked downright NASTY, and I wasn’t able to see the DVD, but the Blu-ray actually looks very filmic. There’s some print damage present, and some speckles to mar the image, but otherwise the image is mostly crisp and shows off some really well saturated colors. Black levels are good, but nothing wild, and while I did say that the movie is MOSTLY crisp and clear, there are some soft scenes here and there. Usually we have a really nice looking scene or two in a row, then a sudden scene change would show a much mushier looking image. I didn’t notice any overt artifacting on the disc, except for some minor blocking, leaving us with a rather pleasant image.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=50297[/img]The 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio track fares about as well as the video. It has a few flaws, but is more than acceptable for most people. I immediately noticed that I had to push the track just a bit higher volume than I normally have to on my receiver and thus was able to detect a mild hiss to the track at those higher levels. Dialog is well done, but sometimes mixed a bit lower than the rest of the effects, causing me to boost that volume as mentioned above. There’s some good channel separation in the front soundstage and you can hear the bullets shift from one side to the other at times, as well as a VERY creepy score to the movie. The effects can be a bit boxy and sometimes a bit tinny, but overall it’s a satisfactory audio experience and leagues better than my old VHS copy.
“Ghost Town” isn’t a horror classic, but its biggest draw is certainly fun. A western/horror mixture is not something you see every day, and the unique cover image was more than enough to draw me into the fold at an early age. The audio and video presentations are more than acceptable for this old and beaten up low budget flick, but the unfortunate side to this package is the lack of ANY extras. I think the old DVD at least had SOME extras, but this edition doesn’t have any at all. Still, it’s a fun trip down memory lane and one I’m glad I can finally upgrade from my beaten up VHS collection that is slowly dwindling. Fun for a good rental
Starring: Franc Luz, Catherine Hickland, Jimmie F. Skaggs
Directed by: Richard Governor, Mac Ahlberg
Written by: Duke Sandefur, David Schmoeller
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 85 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 28th 2015
Buy Ghost Town On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Fun Rental
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