Ghost Town (Blu-Ray) : Release Year - 1988

Overall Rating : 8/10

Directed By : Richard Governor, Mac Ahlberg (uncredited)

Franc Luz (The Nest)
Jimmie F. Skaggs (Puppetmaster)
Catherine Hickland (Witchery)
Bruce Glover (Walking Tall)

Supplied By : Scream! Factory

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : July. 29, 2015


When a modern-day sheriff's deputy is lured to a desolate, spooky ghost town in search of a missing woman, he comes face-to-face with a malevolent spirit from the town's past. The spell of death and suffering over the undead townspeople must end to set them free from eternal pain. The horrors of a possessed outlaw, in a time-suspended dimension are only the setting for a frightening battle for the mind, nerves and flesh.
In the film, GHOST TOWN, Langley is a sure-shot young Sheriff's deputy, who is carefree and loves Rock 'n Roll. Life for him is pretty great , but little did he know that he had yet to face his biggest challenge as a lawman, and soon would. The said challenge comes when the Sheriff, Bubba, his boss, assigns him to a missing person's case. The missing person? The daughter of a prominent figure in their small town of Riverton Arizona, named Kate. With the only evidence of her presence being her abandoned convertible on the side of the road, which has been covered in dust, Langley heads int the nearby town to try to find her. But this is where things get strange. What he finds is a town that seems to have been long deserted, spare for a few dried up skeletons. One such skeleton seems to be of the town's Sheriff, Clint Harper, whose grave marker states, had died sometime in the 1800s. Strange indeed. However, things would get even more bizarre, when several townspeople begin appearing out of nowhere. From townsfolk to outlaw, they all make their presence known, with some of them disappearing as quickly as they appeared. Langley, gets to know some of them, including a young, attractive damsel in waiting, named Etta. It is through them, and via further investigative tactics, that young Langley eventually comes to realize, that this town, the town dubbed "Cruz del Diablo", has a storied history, a grim one to say the least. As it turns out, in the mid-1800s, the town's Sheriff Clint Harper was apprehended, tortured and then buried alive, as an act of torture, which was orchestrated by a vile outlaw named Devlin and his band of henchmen. Prior to being buried alive, Harper cursed Devlin, and the town, stating that they would suffer until Devlin himself was dead. And so. as it stands, Devlin, his men, as well as the town, have continued to live on, in some sort of purgatory. With the arrival of Langley, it would appear that he is seen as a sort of "chosen one", who has come to finally free the town. Or, at least, that's how most of the town views him. It takes a little convincing, but when he discovers that Kate has since been captured by Devlin, whom believes that Kate is the reincarnation of a previous former love who once wronged him, Langley takes it upon him to courageously take to arms and save the day, and the town. However, Devlin proves to be a foe, that just might be unbeatable, in a showdown that blends the Wild West with modern times.

With this release, SHOUT! FACTORY, via their SCREAM! FACTORY label releases yet another Charles Band/Empire production. A film that was once considered "lost" by some. It's another film that, until now, was only available in the form of VHS. As it did not even receive the DVD treatment. While I am not sure, this could have been because, GHOST TOWN seems to have been a very troubled production. When David Schmoeller, who directed TOURIST TRAP, CRAWL SPACE and CATACOMBS for Band, was set to write and direct the film, and for some reason wasn't available to do the latter duty, the Director's chair was given to newcomer, Richard Governer. However, that relationship soon soured, when, after several script changes during shooting caused Governor to walk from the project. Eventually the job went to the film's Cinematographer Mac Ahlberg, and the end result is this film. And to further add to the confusion, it is a film that was never fully completed. As the version of the film that was released, is actually an unfinished workprint of the film, and not a true completed work.

Now, knowing this, one would expect this film to be a complete disaster, right? That is what I was thinking as a went into GHOST TOWN, a film, that until now, I had only heard about. Yes, I expected this one to be pretty bad, even by Charles Band standards. So imagine my surprise when I found that GHOST TOWN, is reality, is actually pretty damn good, with all things considered. Honestly, I think that it may be one of the best Charles Band productions, of any kind, that I have ever seen. It is certainly one of the best conceived ideas. Since Charles Band has been in business, under his many production banners, he has given us many outrageous stories. Whether he had written the stories himself, or if they were from someone else, and he was acting merely as a producer on the picture. The ideas that he has presented, have always been imaginative. Yes, sometimes they're just too out there, and just do not work well as film, but then there are times where the idea truly lends itself to both the budget, and what they have to work with. GHOST TOWN, just so happens to be one of those films, where it somehow all works. Sure it's not something that is mind blowing, it's a B-Movie, and knows it is such. And in knowing this, the script sets out to be a fun B-Movie, and that is exactly what GHOST TOWN is.

It is clear from the start that the general idea, was that they wanted to make a film that was set in the west, yet somehow infuse the modern day into that world. The result is an imaginative tale, that more or less, mirrors that of THE WIZARD OF OZ. In this film a young Deputy Sheriff, is whisked into this Wild West ghost Town, called "Cruz del Diablo", while searching for a missing woman. Here, he also, not only finds her, but also a town of ghosts, who have long been trapped in a state of Purgatory, somewhere between Heaven and Hell. This includes a band of outlaws, led by the vicious "Devlin", who together, have ruled over the town, after the death of the town's Sheriff. So, instead of facing off with an evil witch, Langley, our character, eventually goes to battle with Devlin and his men. So, the parallels are definitely there, as GHOST TOWN kind of adapts itself to the classic story. This makes for a really fun film, that is brought to life, even further by great special effects, and characterized performances.

Like the film itself, the special effects seen here, as supervised by Scott Coulter, are some of the best you'll probably see in a Band production, past or present. I really liked the makeup, especially the makeup created for Devlin. It's as if the script was detailed enough, so that and crew had a vivid enough picture of how the character should look beforehand. In short, I have to say that it all looks great. In terms of the acting found in the film, yes, it is a B-Movie, so you are not always necessarily required to have top notch performances, but it would appear that everyone had a good time on the film. Because of this, the film maintains a genuine vibe through out. Everyone is both fun, and memorable. Actor Franc Luz, and Actress Catherine Hickland do equally well as "Langley" and "Kate", respectively. One is the hero, and the other his "damsel in distress", they both give us someone to root for. On the other side of things, Actor Jimmie F. Skaggs, rules the roost, if you will, as the film's main antagonist, "Devlin", and seems to have loved doing so. The film's main cast are surrounded by a great supporting cast as well. Someone of truly stands out is Actress/Model Laura Schaeffer. Schaeffer, who is absolutely beautiful, was also in the previous Charles Band venture, CATACOMBS. And while, that film did very little for me, Schaeffer showed potential, especially during those scenes where she was meant to play possessed. Here in GHOST TOWN, she portrays a role that is quite the opposite of the school teacher, whom is eventually possessed, that she took on in the other film. Here, shedding her red hair, for a darker maned looks, Schaeffer is a down-home country girl type, a good girl type, whose spirit is trapped in the town. Oh, and of course she shows an interest in the studly Langley, who obliges to her desires. The character, whose name is "Etta", is totally likable, which gives us even further reason as to wonder what ever happened to Schaeffer, who seems to have just vanished after a couple of films, and a few small parts in TV episodes.

To sum things up into a few words, I really liked GHOST TOWN. But going in, I had my doubts. I mean, previously, I had seen Charles Band pursue the Wild West with his alien Western, OBLIVION(also starring Skaggs), and while that one was ok, it wasn't that great. It certainly wasn't impressive. But this one, it kind of did impress me. With both a small budget, along with all of the production turmoil, and the fact that the finished product, isn't exactly a finished product at all, the filmmakers were still able to somehow pull off a film that is highly entertaining. One that I feel is among Charles Band's best, right alongside the likes of DOLLS, and TOURIST TRAP.

With in mind that GHOST TOWN is a bit of a cult film, and tht it had not received a DVD pressing before this, SCREAM! FACTORY's Blu-Ray comes to fans as sort of a revelation. Nevermind that they weren't able to get together any extras for the film, for this release. The transfer presented here looks and sounds fantastic, which is why, I believe that fans will be more than happy with it. If you are a fan of the film, then this release is definitely one for the collection.
4/10 Multiple bloody gunshot wounds, a slit throat, along with some other instances of blood.
3.5/10 Among the many production woes, another one was, that most of Composer Harvey R. Choen's proposed score was scrapped. With only a few of the original cues remaining, in place, a lot of the score was from recycled works from other projects. However, with that said, the score that was thrown together, still does the job, as it is mostly the typical action/adventure stuff.
I really liked this film, as I said. It is one with an imaginative idea, that blends both, the elements of a classic ghost story, with the classic old west, to create something that is truly worthwhile and fun. And when speaking on this release, while it may not be accompanied with the round of special features that we usually get with most SHOUT! FACTORY/SCREAM! FACTORY releases, they have done the film justice, by way of a really great looking transfer. So, whether you are already a fan of GHOST TOWN, or if you are seeing it for the first time, you could do no wrong with this particular release. I recommend.


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