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    Andrew S
    Member

  • Ghost Town



    Released by Shout Factory
    Released on: July 28, 2015
    Directed by: Richard Governor
    Cast: Franc Luz, Catherine Hickland, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Bruce Glover
    Year: 1988
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    When Kate (Catherine Hickland), daughter of a local bigwig, skips out on her wedding and goes missing, it is up to stud muffin Deputy Langley (Franc Luz) to track her down. Venturing into the desert, Langley comes across what looks to be an abandoned old west style settlement home to the ruthless, and undead, outlaw Devil (Jimmie F. Skaggs) and his gang. It turns out Devil kidnapped Kate due to her resemblance to an old flame. Now, Langley will need to figure out how to defeat the group of spectral bandits and save Kate.

    Richard Governor's Ghost Town is a hybrid of two of my favorite genres, the western and horror. Despite this, going into the film I was not all that excited. I had assumed the film would have the humor prevalent in many of the horror films released in the late 80s. I am happy to say I was wrong. Aside from a handful of lighter moments, Ghost Town mainly plays it pretty straight. The danger of Devlin is never sacrificed for laughs, and the film is better for it. The stakes in Ghost Town seem important, not just for Langley and Kate, but also for undead town folk afraid of Devlin. Also, while there is not any time related danger, the film moves at such a pace as to feel like there is a race against the clock that adds a level of excitement to the proceeding. Much of the suspense found in the film can be attributed to the score by Harvey P. Cohen. It is quite affective and is reminiscent of scores found in both horror and westerns.

    Another strong element of Ghost Town was the performances. Franc Luz was particularly surprising, as I was not previously familiar with him. He had a great look for the role, with his 5 o'clock shadow and 80s' style hair, but he also did well with Langley's characterization. Luz got across not only the character's physical attributes but also Langley's ability to adapt to his situation. Bruce Glover also delivered a strong performance as the mysterious, blind Dealer. Glover was convincing as the slightly askew, off-kilter character who you were never sure you could completely trust. The one performance I felt was a letdown was Jimmie F. Skaggs as Devlin. While the script gave Devlin plenty of opportunities to be evil, Skaggs' hammy performance made him slightly less threatening. In fact, I felt Devlin was at his most potent as a character when he was off screen, when other characters talked about the extent of his murderous rage. Devlin's gang was also somewhat hammy, but since they were predominantly faceless baddies it was not a problem.

    The make-up and special effects work in Ghost Town were also well done. Devlin had the most extensive make-up which was highlighted by an unhealed gunshot through the cheek wound. It was prominently featured and grisly but not so much so that it distracted from the rest of his face. My favorite effects shot in the film featured the skeletal remains of the town's original sheriff popping out of his grave to tell Langley to clean up his town. The rotten skull of the sheriff was not only cool looking but it also reminded me of Monster Face, Hasbro's Mr. Potato Headesque rotting skull toy I had as a child.

    It should be said, Ghost Town is incredibly predictable. Two of the film's major reveals, only old weapons work on Devlin's gang and the object Langley uses to dispatch Devlin, were not surprises. I was able to figure out these plot points rather quickly and easily. That is not a bad thing, though. The major reason they were so predictable was because they made logical sense. A film being logical, even a ghost film, is a good thing. Ghost Town did not reinvent the wheel, but no one associated with the film wanted to do that. It seems like they wanted to make a fun, slightly spooky horror-western, and they succeeded.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Shout Factory brings Ghost Town to Blu-ray as a part of their Scream Factory line. The disc presents the film in a 1.78:1 high-definition picture that looks pretty good. It is not demo quality, but for a 25 year old, low budget horror film, it looks nice. There is a little print damage, but nothing is too distracting. I felt the darker scenes looked better than the scenes set during the day, but that might just be a personal preference.

    The sound is DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo and it is quite good. Everything sounds great and is well mixed. The dialogue was easy to make out and the score packed a nice punch. The disc was augmented with English language subtitles.

    Unfortunately, the release lacks any special features. This is a disappointment as I would have liked a filmmaker interview or commentary. Watching the film I felt some moments seemed like references to classic western and horror films and I would have liked some verification. Like many Scream Factory releases, Ghost Town has a reversible sleeve. The static menu image was pretty boss.

    The Final Word:

    Ghost Town is not a classic but it is pretty fun. Lots of atmosphere and a quick pace make the film an easy watch. While I had previously never seen Ghost Town, it had a familiarity that brought upon nostalgic feelings. It feels like a low budget 80s horror film, and that type of film is fun.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screencaps!























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