Blu-ray Review: Ghost Riders (1987)

February 19, 2022

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

In 1886, the notorious motherfucker known as Frank Clements (Mike Ammons)… wait, Frank Clements (cue loud as shit record scratch for maximum “laughs”)?!! That’s the name you’d give a wild west outlaw? Not even a “Frightnin’ Frank” Clements… shit, the name sounds like an attorney that could get you off from a drunk driving rap… where the fuck was I?

1886… Frank Clements… oh, yeah, Frank is hung out to dry (literally) by an angry mob lead by one Rev. Thadeous Sutton (Bill Shaw), and he vows unholy revenge on the descendants of those what done him wrong!

Fast forward to… whhhooooaa duuuude, it’s the present day, which of course is 1986 as everyone knows.

In 1986 we get some high voltage horseshit involving both a geezer, Professor Sutton (Shaw in a dual role) by name, letting two yokels fish on his land intercut with some airport hijinks (the best kind) where we see the high-larious antics of ace pilot/Shooter McGavin Look-A-Like Contest winner Hampton (Jim Peters), who happens to be Sutton’s son, and his mechanic/Chachi by way of early Clooney cohort Cory (Ricky Long) as they live and love among the clouds… there’s also a dude named Tommy (Arland Bishop) that looks like Outsiders-era Tom Cruise mixed with every motherfucker from my freshman year of high school.

What does all of that have to do with a dead outlaw?

Well Hampton is the great-grandson of the Preacher mentioned up yonder.

How is that important? Well for the longest damn time it really isn’t.

First we must be treated to the foibles of dating, gravestone rubbings, a dog looking for a place to piss, some footage of a spider (incorrectly identified as a wolf spider in the special features), maybe a dead armadillo… almost anything and everything except some goddamn undead bandits!

after some swimming in the creek and pontificating on how troubled but fuckin’ awesome Hampton is, Clements and his whole damn ghost squad finally make the scene and shit gets Night of the Living Dead right quick!

For all of the fuckin’ around it does, Ghost Riders is still pretty damn entertaining to park your ass in front of… in fact, it’s filled with some damn solid performances, some funky and/or rockin’ tunes, and a goofy premise that manages to come across with a shit-ton of heart in the hands of director Alan Stewart (who also brought us 1989’s Ghetto Blaster) working from a screenplay from co-writers Clay McBride and James Desmarais.

About those aforementioned performances, the four leads in the film are a ton of fun to watch, and all come across as infinitely likable… but my favorite performance of the bunch has to be Bishop’s Tommy; a philosophizin’ love guru cum stoner that never fails to entertain while he is on screen.

It should also be said that in a move likely born of “I can give you Saturday and Sunday afternoon, but Saturday night is me time, amigo” most of this film takes place in broad daylight which sets it apart from many of it’s beastly brethren… but alas, that does present a big issue…

The antagonists here are played off as a huge supernatural menace, but since they appear as rando dudes in cowboy outfits with no real zombie or ghost make-up, just a walkin’ around aimlessly in the afternoon sun, it lessens their threat considerably (as does the fact that a simple gunshot can put them to rest permanently). Even if they threw some dime-store corpse masks on the fuckers I would have given accolades aplenty, daylight or no…

While the feature is fun but uneven, the special features on this Blu-ray release from MVD Entertainment are a damn sight more on point!

First up we get an audio commentary courtesy of director of photographer/producer Thomas L. Callaway, and Desmarais (moderated by Steve Latshaw), followed by two “making of” docs (one new, one archival)… all of which confirms what many of you may have expected, namely that these folks had access to a western attraction at a local theme park so they wrote some shit around that and made a film… which is a move yours cruelly approves of 666%!

Also included are two trailers (one new, one vintage) as well as two image galleries (for stills and behind-the-scenes pics respectively).

Ghost Riders may be uneven,  but it’s for damn sure ten gallons worth of rootin’ tootin’ horror biz fun!



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