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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 ?
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
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.
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.
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
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.