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Tombstone Canyon

USA 1932
produced by
KBS Productions/World Wide Pictures
directed by Alan James
starring Ken Maynard, Cecilia Parker, Sheldon Lewis, Frank Brownlee, Bob Burns, George Gerwing, Lafe McKee, Jack Clifford, Edward Peil sr, George Chesebro, Robert Walker, Leo Willis, Jack Kirk
written by Basil Smith, Bud Pollard, music by Lee Zahler

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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To find out the truth of his parents, Ken (Ken Maynard) arrives at Tombstone Canyon, where his old friend Luke is supposed to give him vital information ... but of course the man turns up dead, murdered - but by whom ? Was it the mysterious Phantom Killer (Sheldon Lewis), the mysterious cloaked & hooded man who roams the countryside ? Or was it the violent bunch from the Lazy S Ranch, who don't refrain from violence should need arise ?

However, Ken decides to stick around to investigate & takes a job at good-natured Colonel Lee's (Lafe McKee) ranch, where he soon falls in love with his daughter Jenny (Cecilia Parker), & he aslo gains the confidence of the local sheriff (Bob Burna).

Ken's investigations though soon come up with the name Alf Sykes (Frank Brownlee), lowner of the Lazy S Ranch, by now the only man alive who knows about Ken's parents, and quite probably the killer of Luke.

Ken even tricks Alf into confessing to have murdered Luke, but can't make use of this information anymore as the men from Lazy S Ranch arrive & chase him off through the canyon, & when one of them is shot by the phantom in pursuit, they succeed in pinning the murder on Ken.

Soon Ken is arrested for the murder, but since the men from Lazy S know the sheriff is essentially on his side, they trick Ken into making an escape, & shoot the sheriff in a way that Ken becomes the main suspect.

But Ken's escape succeeds & once again the Lazy S bunch chases him through Tombstone Canyon, where Ken manages to hide in the rocky & cavernous landscape though & one by one bump off the Lazy S gang until only Alf & his son Clem (George Gerwing) are left to deal with, who are exactly the 2 people the Phantom Killer wants to get his hands on too.

As it turns out, the Phantom & Alf were stepbrothers, & co-owners of the Lazy S Ranch, but greed drove Alf to kill his stepbrother, wife & son ... but didn't quite succeed as the Phantom - though presumed dead - did survive the attempt, though badly scarred & half mad, & his som now turns out to be (of course) Ken.

The final confrotnation between the Phantom, Ken & Alf & Clem amidst the rocks only Ken survives though, with his father, the Phantom, asking for forgiveness with his dieing breath.

 

Though Ken Maynard, a popular silent cowboy, proves to be at great unease with the talking part opf the talkies & his delivery of dialogue is rather wooden, this is a very vivid & pretty creepy Gothic Western. Even though it has a rather run-of-the-mill-story about the man wanting to find out about his parents, Tombstone Canyon manages to include some unusual elements, like the cloaked phantom, who announces each of his killings by an eerie war-cry, & a great use of the extraordinary canyon locations, that are not merely used as a background here but are incorporated into the story as a key plot device.

The canyon-scenes of this movie were actually shot at Hagen Canyon in the Mojave desert, where parts of The Mummy (1932), the Flash Gordon-serials (1936 - 1940), Apache Drums (1951) and the original Planet of the Apes (1968) were also filmed, among others, but only rarely was the landscape used to such advantage.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD