THE PALE DOOR – Review by Susan Granger

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After a botched train robbery, this horror/Western finds the legendary Dalton gang taking shelter in a mysterious ghost town where nothing is as it seems at first glance.

It’s prefaced by an ominous Edgar Allen Poe quote: “And travelers now within that valley, through the red-litten windows, see vast forms that move fantastically to a discordant melody; while, like a rapid ghastly river, though the pale door, a hideous throng rush out forever, and laugh – but smile no more.”

What the Daltons heist from the train is a locked trunk which, when they pry it open, contains a young woman named Pearl (Natasha Basset), her arms locked in shackles. She offers not only a hefty reward but also medical help for Duncan Dalton (Zachary Knighton), their wounded leader, if they’ll take her home to the tiny town of Potemkin.

While young Jake Dalton (Devin Druid) is obviously quite attracted to Pearl, mysterious Maria (Melora Walters) explains that, many years earlier, the women of Potemkin took her in on the day Pearl was born. That leads to a flashback that culminates with her being burned at the stake as a witch by legendary Cotton Mather (James Landry Hebert).

In the meantime, members of the Dalton gang (Noah Segan, Stan Shaw, Bill Sage, Pat Healy, Tina Parker) are being ‘entertained’ at the local brothel by a bevy of eager-to-please prostitutes.

As it turns out, they’re a creepy coven of witches who covet Jake because his virginal blood contains the supernatural restorative powers they crave.

Inanely and ineptly scripted by Cameron Burns, Roman Dent and director Aaron B. Koontz, it’s a muddled mess, containing one line of dialogue that mirrors my reaction perfectly, when a gang member mutters: “I’ve had enough of this strange shit.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Pale Door is a flawed, flimsy 4. Available on Prime Video, Fandango and Vudu – but don’t bother.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.