Bernard L. Kowalski has a decent horror pedigree, directing Night of the Blood Beast; Attack of the Giant Leeches; Krakatoa: East of Java; Terror in the Sky and Sssssss. Here, he puts the occult terror on a slow boil and puts Reverend John Keyes (Roy Thinnes, always battling the occult) and his wife Lorna (Lynn Loring, The Horror at 37,000 Feet) against an unseen force bedeviling a small Western town named San Melas.
There’s voodoo, devil worship and a mute young girl and a gunslinger possessed by the Left Hand Path. Ray Milland shows up, proving that Old Hollywood is never to be trusted. Plus there’s Gloria Grahame (Blood and Lace), Henry Silva (Almost Human, Megaforce), stuntman Stan Barrett, Joshua Bryant (Salem’s Lot), a young Leif Garrett (Thunder Alley) and Jodie Foster’s brother Buddy.
70’s made for TV horror neglects the Old West, so this is a strange film to start with. Then again, it also plays the Troll 2 trick of a town with a backward name and a connection to witches, but it doesn’t telegraph that.
The ending — which moves to 1971 — more than makes up for the slow moving last 68 minutes. Actually, I love dreamy TV movies that seem to take forever to get anywhere. If this played on the CBS Late Movie, it would have probably taken two hours and forty minutes with all the commercials.
Actually, it did, on August 29, 1972 and March 6, 1975.
You, however, can just watch it on YouTube: