The Curator of Schlock #378 by Jeff Shuster

Terror in a Texas Town

Don’t bring a gun to a harpoon fight. 

I was trying to break out of a prison in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan with Larry, a Don Knotts lookalike. Larry had spent the last ten years tunneling the walls of this place with nothing, but a worn rock hammer to get him through all this concrete. Seems he was sent to prison for killing his wife though Larry protested his innocence. He said a guy with a Strawberry Shortcake tattoo on his right bicep did the deed, but the authorities didn’t buy his story. I told Larry I’d do everything in my power to help him clear his name once we got on the outside and he helped me rescue my kangaroo.

Tonight’s Arrow home video release is 1958’s Terror in a Texas Town from director Joseph Lewis. This one is distributed under the Arrow Films moniker as it’s a bit more high class than their usual fare, but don’t let that scare you. This is an incredible western penned by Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood 10 that was blacklisted. Also, the star of the movie, Sterling Hayden had also been investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

So there’s this evil land baron named McNeil (Sebastian Cabot) who wants to buy up all of the land surrounding Prairie City. The trouble is the land is owned by a group of salt-of-the-earth farmers who don’t want to sell. Enter Johnny Crale (Nedrick Young), an evil gunslinger working for McNeil. Any farmer that doesn’t sign his land over gets a gut full of lead. One such unfortunate farmer is a Swedish immigrant named Sven Hansen.

You see, Sven and neighbor, Jose Mirada (Victor Milan), discovered oil on both their properties and figure that’s the reason behind McNeil pressuring everyone to sell. Jose and his son even witness the murder of Sven at the hands of Johnny Crale, but Jose’s wife tells him to keep silent as she’s expecting a baby and wants the baby to born in peace.

Anyway, it turns out old Sven had a son named George (Sterling Hayden, naturally), a whaler by profession who has decided to settle down on his father’s estate. George shows up to town, asking questions about how his father died and how to get to his father’s estate. The town sheriff tells him that things in America aren’t like they are in Sweden. You can’t just expect to come over here and inherit your father’s land, but George isn’t buying any of that. George says that his father’s will filed away up in Austin and that he plans to get a lawyer.

The sheriff then tells McNeil about this Swede that’s been asking too many questions. McNeil offers George three hundred dollars for his land that really belongs to McNeil anyway due a contract that George’s dad had signed with him. George is suspicious of McNeill and refuses to deal with him. I have to say, Sebastian Cabot plays a perfect ass and one can’t wait to see him get what’s coming to him. And if you want to see the bad guy getting speared with a harpoon then this is the movie for you.

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.