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Ghost Town The Movie
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Ghost Town The Movie
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Renee O'Connor "Little Jack"

by MaryD

I was fortunate the other day to receive a DVD copy of Ghost Town The Movie to review by Dean Teaster.

What is this movie about?

Appalachian folklore and legend tell the story of a man in 1856, who came out of the mountain wilderness of Cold Springs, North Carolina to avenge his father's death. In his wake he left a Ghost Town. Today, twenty years later he returns to avenge his daughter's honor.

Sounds like a western to me. Well that's exactly what it is - it's a story about vengeance, love and eventually forgiveness. It's a story of a man's desire for revenge for the murder of his father. How he went about it is quite shocking. The murderous rampage of Harmon Teaster was quite something to see (even though I was horrified by it, there was something about it that I couldn't tear my eyes off the screen). I try and avoid violent movies because they have a tendency to imprint themselves in my mind for quite some time.

There are a couple of scenes in this movie that will remain with me for some time. One scene is so graphic, so violent and yet it explains Teaster's thirst for revenge. It's a powerful set up to the movie and one that many people will turn away from because of the brutality of it. Another scene that is replayed a couple of times made me rock back in my chair in shock. I couldn't believe it was there but again Teaster's revenge was brutal and savage.

The story takes up twenty years later after the horrific events that turned Harmon Teaster from a sheriff's son to a revenge seeking maniac. Harmon Teaster is an old man, a very sick old man who needs medicine that can only be found in town. While he is trying to recover, Harmon gets a visit from his dead Cherokee wife, Susie. Whether she is a halluciation or real is uncertain; parts of it is a dream but there is a moment when Susie (Tammy Teaster) tells Harmon that he has a decision to make; decisions based on events that Harmon wasn't aware were going on while he was sick with fever.

The Cherokee spirit theme runs through this movie which is just so beautiful. While his fever rages, Harmon dreams of the events that brought him to the mountains and away from Maggie Valley.
Maggie Valley changed it's name to Ghost Town after Harmon Teaster came out of the mountains to avenge his father's death. Those memories set up the events to come for the rest of the movie.

Violet, his daughter can see that her father needs medicine to bring his fever down and sets out to get it for him knowing her father doesn't want her to travel into Maggie Valley. This is where things turn ugly.

Princess Lucaj who stars as Violet Teaster gives such an incredible performance. There is such a frailty about Violet and yet there is also a steely resolve; she isn't a cowering woman. The women in this movie are quite strong and I was very impressed with Princess Lucaj. Violet's entry into Ghost Town is noticed and she eventually finds herself in a church. There's a scene in that church that is so sweet and yet it sets up the violence that will be perpetrated against Violet that is shocking and sets the scene for Harmon Teaster's revenge on the town.

I was very impressed by DJ Perry (Will Burnett) and Dean Teaster (Digger the Undertaker). One is the perfect gentleman despite his family connections and the other is the slimy side of humanity. I disliked this character a great deal. Dean took this role and created a character that I was rooting for Teaster to blow him up! I don't think I've ever had that reaction to a fictional character before. Sometimes Dean took the character and gave him a smidgen of decency but in the next scene just tore that decency to shreds.

DJ Perry as Will Burnett wasn't what I was expecting. Will Burnett is not a chip off the old block; something that makes Papa Burnett none too happy. What happens to Will as he crosses paths with Violet is quite poignant. Will Burnett is a man of principle, a man of peace and a lay preacher.
So far removed from his father and yet he still craved his father's approval.  I found it quite moving considering his father's plans for him.

Bill McKinney was Victor Burnett. A man devoid of any morals who callously enjoys the kill without any remorse or fear. The young Victor was a slightly off-kilter / deranged young man. Ghost Town is ruled by corrupt politicans, the sherrif who doesn't want to act against Burnett, Victor Burnett with his gang rule Maggie Valley which is now known as Ghost Town because of Harmon Teaster's revenge on Burnett's family. Bill did such an incredible job with this character. Burnett's end is quite interesting that his actions betray him as a coward.

Renee O'Connor is Little Jack. I was very excited to read that Renee was going to be in this movie. Originally Little Jack was a male role and along the way DJ Perry and Dean Teaster changed it to a female role. Renee doesn't have many lines in this movie although her presence is felt. The first scene with Renee brought a smile to my face. There are a couple of scenes that I felt Renee stole the scenes; no dialogue but her presence could be felt. One scene was so powerful that I totally forgot about the actual scene and watched Little Jack's reaction - she was magical. Her face spoke volumes; far more than any dialogue could convey. Another scene had her as part of the group but the full range of fear, nervousness to the point where she doesn't know what to do with herself, anger and a steely resolve to withstand what was coming were conveyed without uttering a word. It simply blew me out of the water.  

The music was quite haunting and two songs in particular "Spirit Wind" and "Oh Death" will stay with you for some time. The beautiful songs are sung by Stella Parton (Betty Mae in the movie) who is related to Dolly Parton.

The score was by Dennis Therrian and I wouldn't mind getting the soundtrack to this movie because it is so beautiful and moving.

Is this movie violent? Yes but murder and vengeance don't usually mean getting killed with a cup of tea and crumpets. There is also a message that you are not destined to be who your family want you to be; you can choose a different path.

There is much to praise about this movie and it has so many layers. I have never watched a movie three times in succession until this movie. I can honestly say that I'm not a western movie fan nor do I watch violent movies but this movie was great storytelling. I was thoroughly impressed by this movie and it's the only Western I'm going to be keeping in my DVD collection.

At the end of the movie Dean Teaster dedicates this movie to his father Robert Doyle Teaster who protrayed Digger the undertaker in the Ghost Town Theme Park for many years. There is a scene at the end of the movie where Dean pays homage to his father.

This movie is a labour of love and it shows. It is also helped by the gorgeous scenery of Maggie Valley which only adds to the beautiful tapestry of this movie. When this movie comes to a cinema near you, go and see it.

Many thanks to Dean Teaster for sending me this movie to review, it's been an absolute pleasure.

For a full cast list please go to the Official Ghost Town Movie Site