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Desert Phantom

USA 1936
produced by
A.W. Hackel for Supreme Pictures
directed by S. Roy Luby
starring Johnny Mack Brown, Sheila Manors (= Sheila Bromley), Ted Adams, Karl Hackett, Hal Price, Nelson McDowell, Charlie King, Roger Williams, Art Dillard, Al Taylor, Forrest Taylor, Frank Ball, George Morrell
screenplay by Earle Snell, based on a story by E.B.Mann

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Billy Donovan (Johnny Mack Brown) travels texas as a travelling ammonitions-salesman, wearing all fancy cityboy cloths, but in his little sideshow he proves to be an expert marksman ... which impresses Jean (Sheila Manners) enough hire him as her new ranchhand - officially, but really she wants him to figure out the mystery of the phantom of her ranch, that killed her brother a couple of years ago ... & she just refuses to believe that it really was a (genuine) phantom.

Donovan happily accepts, since he has a score to settle with local badman Salizar (Ted Adams), who has killed his sister & brother-in-law, anyways. However, even upon arrival, Donovan sees a spectre-like figure wandering about Jean's ranch - but upon his investigations finds only Jean & her paralyzed stepfather (Karl Hackett) on the premises -, plus Donovan is shot at but can't find out where from. This however makes Conovan only more determined to figure outt he mystery ofthe phantom.

Soon, Donovan spots a man on the farmland, whom he follows to a mine, & following him through the mineshafts, he soon discovers there is a secret entrance to Jean's ranchhouse. However, Donovan doesn't find the stranger there, only Jean's paralyzed stepfather ... who is soon found out not to be paralyzed at all, his sleepwalking gave him away, but he claims he was just dreaming about walking about & didn'T know he really could ... an excuse so feeble it's bound to be true ...

Meanwhile, Salizar has kidnapped Jean & plans to force her to marry him ... but in the wedding gown he gives her to wear, she finds a map leading to a goldmine ...

Soon, Bonovan comes to the rescue, he frees Jean & takes Salizar prisoner. On the way to town they meet Jim Day (Hal Price), owner of the local saloon, & as it turns out, deputy sheriff, & he offers to take Salizar to town for them ...

Naturally, it isn't long before Salizar is free again, makes a visit to Jean's farm & threatens everyone in sight ... but Donovan is able to disarm him & challanges him to a fair duel. Salizar, believing himself  the quickest draw in the West, happily accepts, but has to find outthat Donovan draws even quicker ... & he dies, congratulating Donovan.

But that's not the end of it, since Donovan is convinced Salizar was working for someone else, & since he has figured outt he secret mineshaft leading to Jean's house anyways, he & Jean lie in wait next to the secret entrance ... & it's not long before the real villain shows up ... Jim Day himself, who has found a goldmine on Jean's land & now desperately tried to drive her off her ranch ... Naturally int he end he's overcome by Donovan


Nice B-Western, from a time when these films would quite regularly transcend their genre boundaries - so this one incorporates a murder mystery with horror-elements into its plot as if it would belong there ... & it works quite well, even if the solution to the mystery is given away way too soon.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD