Ghost Town

I know I've said this before, but one of the perks of this "job" is ferreting out obscure gems that even hardened horror junkies don't hash over very often.  1988's Ghost Town is a splendid example of a competent picture that fell through the cracks.  But why did it dissipate into the melanoid crevasse of vacuity?  Why does an ostrich fist itself near kindergarten playgrounds?  Only God knows.  Actually, there is some speculation that may shed light on this film's status as a diamond in the rough.  For starters, it was released by Empire, a studio that accouched 4,917 movies per year.  It would have been easy to get lost in the shuffle.  Plus, there are rumors that executive producer Charles Band plopped Ghost Town onto video shelves with zero fanfare before it was completed.

Again, this is speculation.  I don't know what happened.  Someone on IMDb claims that the official VHS cut of this horror/western hybrid is a mere workprint.  If so, it's not a bad workprint.  The production values are stellar.  I'm assuming that the diminutive budget was allocated to the right departments, though this isn't exactly a fireworks display of visual effects.  Gore is scant.  The rustic setting feels authentic, but if an amusement park can furnish an ostensibly tenantless "ghost town" with carnival cardboard, it can't be that taxing.  Heh, I like how I'm belittling the work that goes into creating art.  I should do that more often.  I'm sure that it's becoming.

A bland deputy is assigned to the disappearance of...a chick.  We never really learn about her.  We don't learn much about our protagonist, for that matter.  That's probably Ghost Town's crackerjack pitfall.  All of the characters are stock pastiches of crude characteristics.  Take the deputy, for instance.  He's a rugged, handsome moral anchor.  That's it.  I'm swiveling down a cul-de-sac of excursive information.  Back on track; Langley (oh, that's the deputy's name) follows clues to a literal ghost town.  From there, he inadvertently steps into the past and must defeat a black-clad ghoul to save the sandy whistle-stop.  Shades of Army of Darkness, the main difference being the script's somber tone.  Honestly, it could have used a moderate dose of levity.

Ghost Town is entertaining enough.  I don't dislike it.  The pace is swift, the acting is decent and the baddie is relatively cool.  Unfortunately, the entire film is as one-dimensional as its hero.  It's almost too simple.  I didn't care for the victims, so I wasn't emotionally invested in the plot threads.  Director Richard Governor hasn't sat behind a camera since, which gives credence to the theory that he abandoned the project towards the end of principal photography.  It's a shame because Ghost Town is well-shot.  Naturally, it has eluded deluxe DVD treatment.  Strange, seeing as how everything else stamped with Band's appellation is readily available in multiple formats.  If you manage to find a copy, give it a shot.  It's fit for a lazy weekend.

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