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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

THE PALE DOOR (Film Review)

Starring: Melora Waters, Natasha Bassett, Zachary Knighton

Directed by: Aaron B. Koontz


            The more I wrack my brain the more I honestly think it's been a blue moon since I've seen a decent horror/western film...then again it's been a while since I actually wrote a review on anything, so bear with me will ya? Okay - now I've got it: the last semi-decent horror/western that I laid eyes on was Bone Tomahawk, and while it had its moments of marrow-rattling brutality I couldn't shelve it as something that I'd need to revisit once again. So here we are, 5 years later smack-dab in the middle of a pandemic and the need to watch something even remotely entertaining is paramount to a cinephile's sanity - let's hold the door open wide for Aaron B. Koontz's The Pale Door.

    The film follows the rather unlawful exploits of The Dalton Gang, and their latest caper takes them to the rails as they plan on knocking off a train of some seriously worthwhile cargo. Led by Duncan (Knighton), the clan is amped up for a sizeable score, including young brother Jake (Devin Druid), who's on his first-ever robbery, and it certainly will be a memorable one. It doesn't take very long before shit goes sideways with this heist and after a smoky shootout, the gang stumbles upon a woman who has been locked away in a treasure chest, mouth firmly bound up. Her name is Pearl (Natasha Bassett), and she'll prove as a sort of saving grace to the criminals when she offers up a brothel in her "abandoned" town for the fellas to lay low in until things smooth out. The cathouse's leading lady, Maria (Waters) is all too happy to take these dusty derelicts under her roof for the night, cause she's got a big surprise planned...and it's not one worth paying for if you catch what I'm flingin' at ya.

  The film then takes on a "catch em if you can" mentality: cowboys vs. witches, if you're up for some shooting-gallery activity once these ladies of the night reveal their true selves. If you can bypass an otherwise sluggish and monotonous setup to this second-act of flying lead and screeching hag showcasing, then you'll be rewarded with a film that doesn't lay anything on too heavy and provides some interesting viewing. Characters all have some sort of interesting foothold and each is an integral piece to this puzzle - hey, no one said portraying a cowpoke with a complex was an easy task by any stretch. Eventually, plot runs thin and the film relies on a bevy of gory and grotesque imagery, which should be enough to satisfy anyone with a hankering for some singed flesh and flying clots of plasma-rich fluids - TASTY!

  Overall, The Pale Door is a moderately moving way to spend 90+ minutes, and a generally satisfying way to satiate your need for Old West terror, but please: if any of you gentlemen have an "itch" that you need scratched, might I suggest digging in the spurs to your steed and riding right on past Maria's house of happiness.

FILM RATING: 2.5 out of 5 




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