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Richard Joseph Paul
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Alex Erkiletian's "Legend Of The Phantom Rider" of 2002 is, as far as I am considered a rather boring and crappy attempt of a Horror Western, and I am actually a big fan of Horror Westerns.
According to the film, an ancient legend says that good and pure evil face each other in man-shape once in a few centuries. In 1865, a little town somewhere in the West is terrorized by a gang of outlaws lead by a former confederate called 'Blade' and his right hand man 'Suicide'. Sarah Jenkins (Denise Crosby), whose husband and son were murdered by villainous Blade and who has to take care of her little daughter on her own, is especially victimized by the gang, and desperately tries to convince the townspeople to fight back. But then a creepy, mysterious stranger turns up, and he turns out to be extremely fast with his guns. Thenceforward, the brutal gangsters have to learn what fear is every time the eerie man with the fast guns shows up. Blade, however, doesn't seem the least bit afraid...
"Legend Of The Phantom Rider" is basically just the same old western tale of good vs. evil, which the makers of this movie tried to spice up with a little bit of creepiness. This turned out to be a failed attempt, however, since the movie is not really creepy, the mysterious 'Phantom Rider' may look a little creepy, but that's basically it. The movie is also said to be very violent by some, but it is by far not as brutal as it is hyped to be. Most of the acting is terrible, the only actor I liked in this was Irvin Keyes (in the role of an Outlaw named Bigfoot), simply for the reason that he has got to be one of the ugliest looking people I have seen in a movie. The constant drum score, which would normally be intended to build up suspense in some parts of a movie, but certainly not throughout the whole movie is more than annoying.
To be fair, "Legend Of The phantom Rider" is not a completely terrible failure. It has some stylish moments, in some parts of the movie the photography is quite good, there is some good gunplay and the mysterious stranger looks quite creepy. This is a bearable movie, but certainly not a good one. If you are looking for a good Horror-Western, I would recommend movies like Giulio Questi's great surreal Spaghetti Western "Se Sei Vivo Spara" aka. "Django Kill... If You Live Shoot!" of 1967 instead.
All things considered, "Legend Of The Phantom Rider" is not a movie that has to be avoided at all costs, but it is definitely rather crappy. Bearable 3/10
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