Review: Terror In A Texas Town

Blu-ray: Terror In A Texas Town (1958)

When wealthy businessman McNeil (Sebastian Cabot) wants to take over Prairie City and the land and farms around it, he hires ‘man in black’ gunfighter Johnny Crale (Nedrick Young) to get rid of them, and if that fails, kill them.

Terror In A Texas Town is a western that begins at the end, and rewinds to the beginning, only to go back to the end right at the end. Confused? You won’t be. This a straightforward good versus evil story. Local Swedish immigrant farmer, and ex-whaler Sven Hansen (Ted Stanhope) learns from his sympathetic and loyal Mexican immigrant neighbour Jose Mirada that there is oil on his land. So when Johnny Crale mosies over to tell him to leave, Sven says no, stands up to Crale, and using his old harpoon from his past as a whaling fisherman as a weapon to warn him off, Crale callously shoots him dead and leaves him there to rot.

The beginning of the film sees Sterling Haydn (the dead man’s son, George Hansen) walking down the middle of the main street, harpoon in hand, and quickly rewinds to how he got to be there. Seeing Haydn, all 6ft 5 of him stride down that street is a sight to see and he is absolutely filled with potent menace. In fact for the first 3 minutes of the film I thought Haydn was the bad guy (a throwback to the Godfather perhaps?). Unfortunately as soon as he opens his mouth, that massive frame and all that manliness disappears, as Haydn, who back in the day was a blonde sex symbol, genuine war hero and could act, just can’t do a Swedish accent, and I was left wishing he wouldn’t speak as all I could think about was the Chef in The Muppets.

Arriving in town and finding out that his father is dead, but isn’t sure how or why he died begins a journey of discovery, using this horrible stilted boingy boingy swedish accent that really grates. It’s such a shame too as this is a pretty good western. The inclusion of sympathetic stereotypes (The Mexican laying down his life for his beliefs) and the excellent Nedrick Young as a vicious killer who is more or less past it (Google this actor, he has a very interesting back story!) and of course Winnie the Pooh himself (I jest not) Sebastian Cabot as the corrupt businessman, with a script by Dalton Trumbo there’s a lot to like about this film, especially the payoff at the end.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

  • Brand-new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p)
  • Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Introduction by Peter Stanfield, author of Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s: The Lost Trail and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy
  • Scene-select commentaries by Stanfield
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Glenn Kenny.

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Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films via Fetch Publicity.