Legend of the Phantom Rider (2002)

Rating: C+

Dir: Alex Erkiletian
Star: Denise Crosby, Robert McRay, Stefan Gierasch, Zen Gesner
a.k.a. Trigon: The Legend of Pelgidium

The horror-Western is a less common crossover than you might expect, lending this entry a fresh feel. Set in 1865, when traveller Sarah (Crosby) sees her husband and son murdered, she seeks refuge in the nearby town of Sawgus, only to find the killers have taken it over. Led by the almost supernatural Blade (McRay), they seem to be waiting for someone… or something. There is apparently a longer version than the 100 minutes released in the US, covering the whys and the wherefores, but from what I’ve read, it’s no great loss. Though explanation is thin on the ground, particularly as to why Blade doesn’t just kill Sarah, who seems to be the only person who can harm him.

It benefits from excellent cinematography, which captures the remote isolation of Sawgus beautifully, and decent supporting performances from the likes of Angus Scrimm as the local preacher. Crosby is less convincing, and largely vanishes from the film in the last reel, even though her daughter has been kidnapped, before conveniently reappearing in time for the final showdown. The pacing seems off too, especially in the middle, which establishes everything, then goes nowhere for half an hour, even after the someone… or something turns up. McRay, who was also the co-writer, chews the scenery, but given his character, is not too ill-fitting. A resemblance to the lead singer of Right Said Fred does lessen the impact somewhat, but really, who better to embody evil?