|Index||4 reviews in total|
There's not much haunting to the Haunted Ranch. Too bad the screenplay
didn't make a guessing game out of whether the place is really haunted
or not. Instead, their gimmick is pretty hokey and unimaginative. But
then this is a Monogram production. There is some hard riding, not much
fast shooting, and one poorly staged brawl.
Actually, the actors are much better than the material. King makes a likable hero, Strange does an impressive bad guy, and Julie Duncan is a pretty little package but without much acting talent. Terhune manages a couple of creepy scenes with his dummy. In fact, those may be the movie's most interesting parts. Then there's black comedian Snowflake who gets to do a couple of "feets don't fail me now" humor scenes typical of the time.
But what I'd really like to know is what happened to David Sharpe who disappears half-way through, supposedly to join Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, but I suspect an inside story instead. Anyhow, it's a routine programmer with a likable cast, but not much more.
(Note on Sharpe Now that I check out IMDb's Trivia, it indicates David trained in 1943 as an Air Force pilot. So I wouldn't be surprised he left this 1943 production halfway through to join up.)
The Range Busters pause to replace a member as David Sharpe decides to
enlist in the Spanish American War. Rex Lease however is Johnny-on-the-
spot to replace him as they search for stolen bullion on a haunted
One of the heirs is shot and killed, but before he dies spills the fact that stolen gold bullion from his uncle's gang is hidden on the ranch. Dusty King decides to impersonate the deceased heir and meets his 'cousin' Julie Duncan who is the other heir.
Glenn Strange and the rest of the gang is also looking for the stolen loot on that ranch. They've frightened off ranch hands with all kinds of tales and fake demonstrations of demon spirits. But our Range Busters don't believe in that nonsense.
This is Monogram Pictures so don't expect much, but production values were more than normally threadbare in this western where nobody with any brains would be taken in by the haunting.
To protect the stolen gold Rance Austin (Glenn Strange) has his gang
member to "haunt" the ranch where the gold is hidden. - That sums up
the film quickly.
Nothing really haunted in this film. I have to agree with others the film would have been more interesting if film makers left us guessing if the ranch was really haunted or not. The way the film is, it's a very bland western. Nothing special about this movie.
The only reason I am giving this film a "2" is for Glenn Strange - that's it. The film itself is a snore fest. It's a let down for me, I was hoping for a haunting or a film that lead the viewer to believe the ranch was haunted.
Given that my two favorite genres are Horror and Western it's only
natural that I would seek out the merging of the two, as rare as they
are. Some, like "Curse Of The Undead," remain (to date) elusively
unreleased while others, like "The Beast Of Hollow Mountain," seem to
have employed the horror elements as an afterthought, and still others,
such John Wayne's highly entertaining early oater, "Haunted Gold," have
a Scooby-Doo type revelation in the climax that feels like a horror
cheat. "Haunted Ranch" is somewhat in the league of the latter, though
on a much more minimalist scale, i.e. the horror part was a blink and
you'll miss it.
On the opening credits themselves it says this is the "20th Range Busters Picture," somewhat astonishing even for a B western series, but then again there is currently a DVD set out that features six vintage B westerns all shot in 29 days! I happen to love B westerns, despite their requisite sameness, but I had never seen anything in the RANGE BUSTERS series prior to this one and am not even sure who played the BUSTERS over the course of the films nor even how many were made in total. Regardless, this particular picture was all pretty conventional stuff and indistinguishable from most B western series.
Although enjoyable and well paced at 57 minutes, the title promised more than it delivered. The only "horror" aspect was the bad guys pretending to be ghosts so that people will stay away from a recently deceased owner's ranch that they are trying to steal. So an outlaw hides in the cellar and makes a lot of ghostly noise and, in the film's only real effective part, plays an accordion that sounds like an organ, which fools the heroes as they see no one sitting at the organ in the parlor. But the ruse merely flusters the good guys who are not prone to fear (of course!) and only really scares the, what else, nervous, bug eyed black cook, played by the ignominiously named actor, "Snowflake."
Frequent comic relief B western actor Max Terhune is in this one, playing his usual character, "Alibi," just as he did in countless installments of the 3 Mesquiteers series at Republic. Terhune's comic shtick was that he was a ventriloquist who always had his dummy, Elmer, with him, dressed exactly like he was and even riding with him on his horse, continually making allegedly funny comments. I have no idea if there were ventriloquists in the old west, but it does seem a bit off whenever I see this cowboy dummy hanging around. At least in this one he had a great scene where he was antagonizing the bad guys in a saloon, leading to the best line in the whole film: "That dummy knows too much."
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