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Way out West, the 1890's: A gang of cutthroats dress up as Indians &
hold up a family of 4, killing the parents. One sun can get away alright, but
the other goes mental ...
10 years later: The cutthroats have become
respectable citizens of the city of Red Dog, when a maniac starts bumping them
off, leaving a note by each of their corpses saying "Remember 10 years
ago". The maniac becomes known as the Rawhide Terror, & he
wears a leather mask & a mock Indian outfit like the cutthroats themselves
10 years ago. He understandably puts fear into those of the cutthroats still
alive, but when they ask the sheriff (Edmund Cobb) for help, he can do
remarkably little, as the Rawhide Terror remains elusive.
(William Desmond) & his sister Betty (Frances Morris) find little Jimmy
(Tommy Bupp), who has been beaten up by his father, local brute Brent (William
Barrymore) again, & Tom decides to teach Brent a lesson for beating up
little children, but the situation soon culminates in a shoot-out obnly ended
when Tom's younger brother Al (Art Mix) interferes. Not long afterwards, Tom
falls victim to one of the Rawhide Terror's assassination attempts, too, even
though he didn't belong to the badmen from 10 years back (& fortunately he
is saved by little Jimmy in the nick of time), & Al, when pursuing the
Rawhide terror, is almost pulled over a cliff in a runaway wagon (in a quite
impressive chase sequence, with the camera monted atop the speeding wagon).
cutthroats-turned-respected-citizens meanwhile decide to take law into their
own hands & form a posse to hunt the Rawhide Terror own, but he instead
lures them into an abandoned mine & blows it up ... which puts an end to
them. But then the sheriff & his posse hunt him down & kill him.
in the sheriff's arms, the Rawhide Terror is unmasked as Brent. & Brent
encounters a birthmark on the sheriff's shoulder that resembles his own, &
it turns out both he & the sheriff were the boys whose parents were killed
at the beginning of the movie (guess who awas the one who has gone mental), but
now that he has avenged his parents, Brent can die in peace.
some nice camerawork, & at least one inspired chase scene (when Art Mix
pursues the Terror), it is pretty obvious that this movie was done on the
(dirt-)cheap, having obviously saved on sets or costumes ... like many
B-Western were produced back then.
What makes this movie interesting however
are several gruesome plot-elements more at home in psycho-killer-horrormovies
from about 40 years later than in Western of its time, like the maniac killer
who wears a mask & who kills in gruesome ways (like tieing strips of wet
rawhide around his victims' necks, which are sure to strangle them once drieing
in the desert sun), deliberately leaving notes with the corpses to strike fear
into his next victim(s). & somehow the leathermask seems to be a surefire
precursor for Texas Chainsaw
Massacre's Leatherface (even though it looks rather different in that
Producer Victor Adamson (who quite frequently worked under the alias
Denver Dixon) is of course nowadays best known to the exploitation crowd as
father of director & genre fave Al Adamson, but he was quite a prolific (if
small-fry) Western producer in the 1920's & 1930's, having made up the
cowboy actor Art Mix (a not very cleverly disguised name to cashi in on Tom
Mix's successes as the silent film cowboy hero), whom Adamson himself
was in the beginning before he inherited the name to his protegé George
Kesterson, & - when he split up with Kesterson for a time in the 1930's -
to Bob Roberts.
In later years, Adamson gave up Westerns for films intended
for the exploitation market ... a trade his son would eventually pick up ...