Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 5th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1958
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Writer: Dalton Trumbo
Cast: Sterling Hayden, Sebastian Cabot, Carol Kelly, Eugene Mazzola, Nedrick Young, Victor Millan, Frank Ferguson, Marilee Earle
BluRay released: July 10th, 2017 (UK), July 11th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 80 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Terror in a Texas Town was directed by Joseph H. Lewis whose other notable films include, Invisible Ghost, So Dark the Night, Gun Crazy and The Big Combo. Key collaborators on Terror in a Texas Town include, cinematographer Ray Rennahan (Rouben Mamoulian’s Blood and Sand and Duel in the Sun), composer Gerald Fried (The Killing, Paths of Glory) and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Johnny Got His Gun).
Though this film has all the core ingredients that have become synonymous with Westerns from Hollywood’s Golden Age. It narrative from a conventional take on those aforementioned Westerns. And nowhere is this more evident, than when it comes to this protagonists’ weapon of choice, a harpoon.
The film features a bookend narrative that opens and closes with the final showdown between the protagonist and a gun for hire. And in-between the narrative fills in the events that lead to this final showdown. Though the narrative does a good job laying the groundwork for the films moment of truth. There are few moments where things tend to drag. Fortunately, these are just minor bumps along the way and the end result is a very satisfying take on good versus evil.
Performance wise the cast are all good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Sterling Hayden (The Killing, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) in the role of this film’s protagonist George Hansen, the son of a murdered farmer. This character is best described as a “Fish out of Water” and he delivers a nuanced performance that makes his quest for vengeance all the more satisfying.
Another performance of note is Nedrick Young (Seconds) in the role an assassin for hire named Crale. He delivers a performance that perfectly captures the essence of his characters sadistic side.
Without a doubt, this film’s most durable asset is its visuals. Which often goes against what one would expect from a Western made in Hollywood during this era. And said visuals are best described as a cross between Gothic Horror and Film Noir. Other strengths of the visuals are how well each character is introduced and how the visuals are able sustain the maintaining tension.
Terror in a Texas Town comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was created from a brand new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release. Black and contrast levels remain solid throughout, details look crisp, there are no issues with compression and grain looks natural.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 54 seconds), an introduction about the film that contains background information about director Joseph H. Lewis and Terror in a Texas Town (13 minutes 10 seconds) and a visual essay about the film (14 minutes 14 seconds).
Both of these extras feature comments from Peter Stanfield, author of Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s: The Lost Trail and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy. And he provides a wealth of information about the film, the cast and its director.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Weapon of Choice: Jospeh H. Lewis and Terror in a Texas Town and information about the restoration / transfer. Overall Terror in a Texas Town gets an excellent release from Arrow Academy.