Saturday, January 30, 2016


PHENOMENALITY: (1) *marvelous,* (2, 3) *uncanny*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*

I don't have a lot to say about these three ordinary oaters, except in terms of the theory I explicated in my review of HAUNTED RANCH.

GHOST PATROL pits cowboy star Tim McCoy against a gang of owlhoots with a mild science-fiction twist. It happens that the crooks have abducted a professor who foolishly let the papers broadcast his development of a "radium tube" capable of zapping any electrical systems. Being small-time thinkers, the crooks decide to use the tube-- seen above looking like an electric chair-- to make mail-planes crash so that the gang can loot the contents. The finale manages to incorporate the device long enough for McCoy's character to blast the hell out of it.

In the HAUNTED RANCH review, I claimed that even though that film included a ghost-imposture, the villains' plot was so minimal in its effect that I couldn't seriously deem it a "phantasmal figuration" in the uncanny mode. Both PHANTOM OF THE RANGE and its three-years-later remake STRAIGHT SHOOTER test that theory, for in both the only attempt to create a "ghost" is that of a mysterious man in dark clothes riding past a ranch in order to spook the inhabitants.  There's still no attempt in either film to create a spooky atmosphere. Yet as long as there's at least a man in a costume-- however badly the costume is conceived-- I'd have to place both of these films in the uncanny domain.

The remake is pretty much beat-for-beat of the earlier film, but the 1936 film includes a better performance by female lead Beth Marion, who lectures Tom Tyler on the exigencies of hitchhiking. The latter film is notable only in taking the earlier script and tweaking it to become part of a short-lived character-serial which starred none other than-- Tim McCoy! 

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