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Film / Ghost Town (1988)

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Ghost Town is a 1988 American Western horror film directed by Richard McCarthy (under the pseudonym Richard Governor) and starring Franc Luz and Catherine Hickland.

Deputy Langley tracks a kidnapped girl to an abandoned ghost town. However, the town is not abandoned, but haunted by the spirits of an outlaw, Devlin, and his gang, who hold the equally deceased townspeople in hostage until the outlaws can be killed by a lawman.

No relation to the 2008 supernatural comedy of the same name.

Ghost Town provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: After Kate's bomb takes out most of the gang, Devlin and one of his henchmen emerge from the flames. Langley spins round and fires with the sheriff's gun, plugging the henchman square in the middle of the forward. As he and Kate dive for cover from Devlin's return fire, this exchange occurs (possibly a joke given the accuracy Langley has displayed previously):
    Kate: That was a great shot shot!
    Langley: I was aiming for Devlin!
  • And Some Other Stuff: Kate uses the leftover black powder to create a bomb. When she throws it and it detonates in the midst of the undead outlaws, it explodes with a much greater ferocity and effectiveness than Langley was expecting; devastating much of the gang.
    Langley: What was in that thing?
    Kate: (defensively) ...Leftovers.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: Outlaws Ned and Billy get the drop on Langley and force him to hand over his shotgun. Before he does so, he surreptitiously plugs the barrel with mud. As soon as he gets the gun, Billy fires it at Langley. The plugged barrel makes it backfire; shooting Billy in the gut.
  • The Blacksmith: Smithy, the town blacksmith, and his daughter Etta are two of the four citizens who come forward to help Langley fight Devlin and his gang. The other two are Grace and Dealer.
  • Blind Seer: Dealer is a blind Professional Gambler who can tell the future by cutting a deck of playing cards.
  • Buried Alive: After torturing the sheriff, Devlin and his gang buried him alive just outside of town.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Langley and Kate find the body of the priest inside the church. He used his dying strength to write "EVIL FINDS NO SANCTUARY HERE" in the dust on the wall with his finger. Kate does not find this comforting.
  • Counting Bullets: The undead Outlaw leader Devlin takes Langley's modern Super Redhawk revolver off him. During their final showdown, Devlin is firing Langley's own gun at him and Langley is crouched behind cover. Langley counts the shots and then stands up after Devlin fires his fifth. Devlin fires again, only to have the hammer fall on an empty chamber. Langley tells Devlin "You just made your first mistake in 100 years": Devlin not having realised that, with the larger bullets, the Super Redhawk only has a five chamber cylinder, not six.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: After capturing the sheriff, Devlin and his gang nailed him to the vanes on the windmill on the outskirts of town.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: When Kate is abducted by Devlin and his gang, they are accompanied a blinding dust storm. The storm is so severe that when the police find Kate's car, it has had all of the paint scoured from it.
  • Deal with the Devil: According to Devlin, he and his gang gained their status as Revenant Zombies via a deal he made with Satan after the town was trapped in purgatory by the sheriff's curse.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Langley melts down the gold coins from the church and uses them to cast gold bullets for the shells for the sheriff's gun. He says that the gold will mushroom on impact, but it is not clear that this effect would be that much greater than the lead he is replacing, so presumably he also expects it to have some kind of supernatural effect on the undead outlaws.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: When Langley's Ford Bronco gets shot up by Devlin, it immediately bursts into flames. Possibly justified, as Devlin's bullets are presumably supernatural.
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: Devlin stabs Etta to death with a pitchfork.
  • Ghost Town: As the title implies, the film is set in a ghost town, complete with ghosts. When the ghostly inhabitants are present, the town looks like it did in its heyday, but when they are absent it looks like it has been abandoned for a century.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: After being unconscious, Kate awakens to find that Devlin has dressed her in a saloon singer's outfit.
  • Groin Attack: Langley is being held by two of Devlin's outlaws. When Grace's futile attack distracts them, Langely escapes by kicking one of them in the groin and running.
  • Guns Akimbo: Multiple times during the film, Devlin enters the fray with a revolver in each hand, blazing away indiscriminately. Of course, in these situations he is generally more concerned with creating mayhem than accuracy.
  • Hand Cannon: Deputy Langley carries a Ruger Super Redhawk .44 magnum as his sidearm. When the Big Bad Devlin takes it off him, he exclaims that he finally feels like he has a gun worthy of him.
  • Hand Gagging: When Langley arrives the town, Kate sees him out of the window of the saloon. However, before she can call out, a desiccated hand clamps over her mouth and drags her away from the window.
  • Immune to Bullets: The undead outlaws cannot be harmed by anything manufactured later than the time they were cursed, so when Langley shoots them with his modern firearms, it has no effect beyond putting holes in them. Only when he acquires period weaponry and ammo from the Ghost Town does he stand a chance of hurting them.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Devlin shoves a length of red hot sharpened iron through Smithy and pins him to the wall with it.
  • Knows the Ropes: One the outlaws is hiding atop the windmill and expertly drops a noose around Langley's neck and attempts to strangle him.
  • Man on Fire: To his surprise, Billy bursts into flames when Langley shoots him with the vintage ammunition from the sheriff's office.
  • Meek Townsman: It is the refusal of the meek townsfolk to join the sheriff in opposing Deviln and his gang that causes the town to be cursed and them to be trapped in a state of undeath under the rulership of the equally undead Devlin.
  • Miss Kitty: Grace ran the town's saloon when she was alive, and continues to run it in death. This includes soiled doves working in the rooms upstairs.
  • Neck Lift: Devlin does this to one of his henchmen who refuses to enter the church. For good measure, he then strangles him one-handed as an example to rest of the gang. .
  • New Old West: Even before stumbling upon the Ghost Town and the revenant outlaws, Langley is a lone deputy scouring the vast wastes of the Arizona desert for a Runaway Bride: albeit in his (Ford) Bronco, rather than on it.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Langley does this after he is given the sheriff's gun as he does not have a holster for it. Interestingly, he does this the 'correct' way (as a trained lawman should) by thrusting it through his belt and not down his pants, and having the barrel angled away from his body and not pointing down his leg (or worse, towards his crotch).
  • Pinned to the Wall: Devlin nails Smithy to the wall of his forge with a red hot length of sharpebed iron.
  • Powerful Pick: One of the outlaws drops a noose around Langley's neck from the top of the windmill and attempts to strangle him. Langley manages to grab the pick the outlaws had used to bury the sheriff and swing it upwards: burying it in the outlaw's chest.
  • Professional Gambler: Dealer is a blind gambler who has spent so much time handling the cards that he can feel what they are. Also acts as Blind Seer.
  • Quick Draw: Deputy Langley is a quick draw practitioner. The opening scene is him practicing his draw in a junkyard, with the timer recording his draw as .34 of a second. Later in the film, it seems his skill is useless when he wins the Showdown at High Noon against Devlin, only to learn that the undead outlaw is immune to bullets. Then Langley learns that the sheriff's pistol can kill Devlin...
  • Revenant Zombie: Devlin and his gang of outlaws are physical revenants, granted a physical existence courtesy of Devlin's Deal with the Devil. The other inhabitants of the town are more like ghosts: trapped in the town by the sheriff's curse.
  • Revolver Cylinder Spin: Langley does this before handing the sheriff's gun to Grace. It is not possible to tell from the angle the scene is shot, but he may have been either checking if the gun was loaded or making sure the hammer was resting on an empty chamber (Langley is shown throughout the film as being particular about gun safety). However, the cylinder still spins too easily for the type of gun.
  • Runaway Bride: At the start of the movie, Kate has abandoned her fiance at the altar and is driving away at high speed. She tosses her bridal veil out of her convertible and laughs as it is carried away by the wind.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Devlin challenges Langley to one. Langley wins, only to learn that Devlin is Immune to Bullets.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors. Teddy, one of Devlin's outlaws, is dressed in a Confederate uniform.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: Grace keeps a double barrelled shotgun beneath the bar in the saloon. She pulls it out and levels it at one of Devlin's men to stop him drawing on Langley. Langley later grabs it from under the bar to add it to his armory of period weapons.
  • Vanishing Village: The film is set in a Wild West Ghost Town that randomly appears and disappears. Murdered by a gang of outlaws, the sheriff used his dying breath to curse the gang and the town that been too cowardly to help him fight to linger on Earth until the outlaw leader Devlin was vanquished by a lawman
  • Weird West: Follows a deputy sheriff who finds himself amongst the dead residents of a ghost town while searching for a missing woman.
  • What a Drag: During their final showdown, Devlin lassoed the sheriff and dragged him along the main street behind his horse.