GHOST TOWN. Empire Pictures, 1988. Franc Luz, Catherine Hickland, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Penelope Windust, Bruce Glover. Director: Richard McCarthy.

   I’ve always been a fan of the Weird West, that sub-genre that blends elements of horror and the supernatural with Western themes. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pull off a really cohesive mash-up of the horror and Western genres. There’s always something that just doesn’t quite gel the way it should.

   Maybe it’s because the “rules” of the Western genre are so rooted in human nature and, for the lack of a better term, reality. Maybe it’s because we associate horror with nighttime, rather than with the blazing hot sun. No matter what, I often come away from my excursions into the Weird West with a sense of what might have been, how the proverbial visit might have gone better.

   That’s basically how I felt after watching Ghost Town, a Charles Band production from 1988. Screened in very limited release, this horror Western is better than you might expect, but it’s hardly what you might categorize as a great Western.

   Lead actor Franc Luz, while solid in the part, doesn’t ever seem totally comfortable in his role as Deputy Sheriff Langley, a lawman tasked with locating a missing woman. This quest – the hero’s quest – mysteriously takes him out of the present and into an Old West netherworld, somewhere between heaven and hell.

   Apparently, an entire town is being held hostage from moving onto the afterlife by an undead outlaw named Devlin (the late Jimmie F. Skaggs in an standout role). Truth be told, there’s not a whole lot of logical coherence in the plot. This is unfortunate. It’s almost as if the filmmakers decided that because the supernatural was at work in the story, there need not be an internal logic that would explain how Devlin was able to stay alive past death and hold a whole town in a void.

   Yet, despite my criticisms, I have to admit that I enjoyed watching Ghost Town. The cinematography is quite good. Better than in many horror movies from the 1980s in fact. Most significantly, it’s a fun movie. Not a good movie. But an enjoyable one.