Combustible Celluloid
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With: Devin Druid, Zachary Knighton, Bill Sage, Pat Healy, Natasha Bassett, Noah Segan, Stan Shaw, Melora Walters
Written by: Cameron Burns, Aaron B. Koontz, Keith Lansdale
Directed by: Aaron B. Koontz
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 96
Date: 08/21/2020

The Pale Door (2020)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Cowboys & Witches

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With a promising title taken from Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Haunted Palace, the movie The Pale Door immediately squanders that promise. An uncommon combination of two of my favorite genres, horror and Western — and with Joe R. Lansdale's name on it (as executive producer) — I had slightly higher hopes. It spends way too much time establishing the relationship between two brothers, the older one responsibly protecting the younger one. When they grow older, the elder brother Duncan (Zachary Knighton) becomes the leader of a Dalton-like outlaw gang, while younger brother Jake (Devin Druid) holds down a regular job, sweeping up in the local saloon. One of the gang quits just before the gang's next big heist, and Jake volunteers to step in. The robbery goes badly, Duncan is wounded, and the gang winds up with a trunk — with a woman inside. She takes them to her village, which is populated by witches! And that's about it. The rest is a showdown between the cowboys and the witches, who want Jake's virgin blood. It takes roughly a third of the movie to get to the horror parts, which at least contain some fun make-up and gore effects, even if it's not at all scary. The Western parts are just flat, closer to an old TV episode than to Leone. Melora Walters co-stars as the madame of the whorehouse and head witch, and with Noah Segan and Pat Healy. Co-screenwriter Keith Lansdale is Joe R.'s son.

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