Back to prior page

Ghosts, Goblins, Sci-Fi elements, Old Dark Houses, strange plots,
and Masked / Caped Intruders and Heroes ... out West!

Last updated: March 19, 2022

Over the years, ye Old Corral webmaster has received a number of requests for a list of B westerns and western themed serials that have a storyline that includes ghosts, apparitions, masked / caped villains, secret passages in an old dark house, etc.

To keep this listing at a reasonable quantity, I've NOT included the following:

  • the two Republic Lone Ranger serials.
  • the many Zorro type features and cliffhangers.
  • the many Charles Starrett / Durango Kids and the Three Mesquiteers films in which Bob Livingston wore a mask.
  • the list is sound era B western and serials - meaning 1929ish to the early 1950s. Thus, later films such as THE BEAST OF HOLLOW MOUNTAIN (United Artists, 1956), BILLY THE KID VERSUS DRACULA (Embassy, 1966), etc. are NOT included.

Suggested titles for your viewing pleasure are shown with a .

PHANTOM OF THE WEST (Mascot, 1930; serial): Tom Tyler's father is murdered and Tyler and Dorothy Gulliver spend 10 chapters trying to track down the killer. And there's caped mystery riders and a dark cloaked Phantom (voiced by Walter Miller, who also does the chapter recap narration). This was Mascot's first sound serial and is rather crude and creaky.
LIGHTNING WARRIOR (Mascot, 1931; serial): Frankie Darro, Rin-Tin-Tin, and a young George Brent vs. a black-cloaked rider known as the "Wolfman". Rinty is the "Lightning Warrior".
MYSTERY TROOPER (Syndicate, 1931; serial): early sound serial with a ghost town, a hunt for a map to a lost gold mine, and a caped protagonist called the "Mystery Trooper" who helps Robert Frazer, Blanche Mehaffey and Buzz Barton in their battles with Al Ferguson and gang.

(From Old Corral collection)

GHOST VALLEY (RKO, 1932): topnotch RKO oater features a desert ghost town, an abandoned gold mine, and star Tom Keene (above) donning a cape and portraying a vengeful night rider.

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

HAUNTED GOLD (Warners, 1932): Plenty of secret passages, sliding panels, hooded figures and graveyards as John Wayne and Sheila Terry search an old ghost town for the "Phantom of the Mine". Atmosphere, story, action, stunts, etc. make this the best of Wayne's Warner series. Includes the memorable battle between Wayne and 'Slim' Whitaker in a cable car above the mine. Left to right in the above lobby card are Tom Bay, Jim Corey, Wayne, and Charles 'Slim' Whitaker.
FOURTH HORSEMAN (Universal, 1932): One of Tom Mix's nine sound films for Universal - and one of the best. It's Tom versus Fred Kohler Sr. Not much in the way of spookiness ... but there is a ghost town.

HIDDEN VALLEY (Monogram, 1932): the "Goodyear blimp over Lone Pine, California" starred Bob Steele. And great camera work by Archie Stout. Steele is wrongly convicted of murdering an archeologist, escapes custody, and winds up hunting for the real killers. And the pursuit includes an Indian tribe and a hidden valley of gold and turquoise. In the screen captures above are Steele, Gertrude Messinger and Goodyear blimp pilot Vern Smith.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Pretty Cecilia Parker has the drop on Ken and Tarzan in this lobby card from TOMBSTONE CANYON (KBS/World Wide, 1932). The plot has Ken and Cecilia versus a mysterious, dark-cloaked phantom killer with a disfigured face and blood curdlin' scream. Exterior location is Red Rock Canyon and this is one of Maynard's best. Below are screen captures of silent screen veteran Sheldon Lewis as the disfigured Phantom. Lewis did his own makeup for this role.

FIGHTING WITH KIT CARSON (Mascot, 1933; serial): not much spookiness in this tale of Johnny Mack Brown versus Noah Beery, Sr. and his gang of black clothed and caped "mystery riders".
GORDON OF GHOST CITY (Universal 1933; serial): Buck Jones, Madge Bellamy and her grandfather are looking for a gold mine underneath a building in "Ghost City". But there's a mystery man out to foil their plans.

MYSTERY MOUNTAIN (Mascot, 1934; serial): twelve chapters of Ken Maynard and trusty steed Tarzan versus the masked and caped "Rattler". Lots of red herrings in the search for the real identity of the Rattler. And the end comes in chapter 12, "The Judgement of Tarzan".

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

VANISHING RIDERS (Spectrum, 1935): Bill Cody Senior and Junior decorate themselves and their steeds in skeleton costumes ... to scare Wally Wales and his gang of rustlers.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a photo of the title lobby card for THE RAWHIDE TERROR (Security, 1934). This chaotic mess was a "Victor Adamson Presents an Art Mix Production", and a photo of Adamson / Dixon is shown in the upper left. Edmund Cobb (shown center) was kinda the star, even though he's listed second below William (Bill) Desmond. Also acting as the hero was George Kesterson/Art Mix but he kinda disappears. Bill Patton (moustached, wearing dark shirt, gloves, jacket) is to the left of heroine Frances Morris. In the upper right is William Barrymore (Boris Bullock) as the "Rawhide Terror". Scuttlebutt was that TERROR was originally planned as a serial, but never came to fruition. Thus, when Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon slapped this together as a feature, continuity and logic were lost.

Above are screen captures of William Barrymore (Boris Bullock) in his guise as the "Rawhide Terror". Leave it to Denver Dixon / Victor Adamson to pioneer a villain wearing an early version of Hannibal Lecter's mask.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Gene Autry does battle with one of the robots in a Chapter 7 lobby card from THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (Mascot, 1935). Not much spookiness in this crazy and wonderful western / sci-fi chapterplay which is Gene Autry's first starring role, and directed by Otto Brower and B. Reeves "Breezy" Eason. It does have the underground kingdom of Murania, robots, flame guns, death rays, and a bunch of Muranian horsemen, and when they gallop, their hosses produce a deep thunder like resonance. Also battlin' Gene are scientist J. Frank Glendon and his minions who are trying to locate radium deposits. Autry is in constant trouble, but must do his daily Radio Ranch broadcast or lose the radio contract. And who can forget Frankie Darro, Betsy King Ross, and the Junior Thunder Riders ridin' "To The Rescue!". Autry had signed a contract with Mascot boss / owner Nat Levine, and he went along in the mid 1930s deal that formed Republic Pictures with the combining of Mascot, Monogram, other entities.

BIG CALIBRE (Supreme, 1935) is one of Bob Steele's best. Screen captures above of William Quinn in his disguise as the evil "Gadski" who kills folks with poison gas pill grenades. At the end, hero Bob Steele hangs from the bumper of a truck ... which is hanging over the edge of a precipice. Will Bob survive and defeat the bad guy?
ROCKY MOUNTAIN MYSTERY (Paramount, 1935): Randolph Scott oater with a plot involving a spooky house, murder, and a killer wearing black.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

THE MIRACLE RIDER (Mascot, 1935; serial): Tom Mix's last film was this wunnerful fifteen episode cliffhanger with Ranger Tom vs. Charles Middleton, best remembered as 'Ming' in the Flash Gordon cliffhangers. Not much ghostly stuff in this ... but there's the radio controlled "Firebird" glider, a super-duper explosive called X-94, and TV screens used by Middleton to communicate with his gang.

Screen captures below from Chapter 2, "The Firebird Strikes" - scientist Niles Welsh working on the Firebird model and the full sized Firebird inside the cave hideout.

GHOST TOWN GOLD (Republic, 1936): the second Three Mesquiteer yarn - and the first for Max Terhune and his alter ego Elmer - takes place in a ghost town with Milburn Morante as a crazed miner.

(From Old Corral collection)

GHOST PATROL (Puritan, 1936): no ghosts in this. Federal agent Tim McCoy has to unravel the mysterious disappearances of U. S. Mail planes which are being blown out of the sky by a death ray. The guy standing next to McCoy - and playing his sidekick - is James P. Burtis.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is the title lobby card from Tom Tyler's THE PHANTOM OF THE RANGE (Victory, 1936). A white robed marauder on a white hoss is purported to be the ghost of a dead rancher who kept a treasure hidden on his ranch. Veteran story and screenplay writer Basil Dickey was responsible for the PHANTOM screenplay. A few years later, Dickey re-used the story for Tim McCoy's STRAIGHT SHOOTER (Victory, 1939).

(Pressbook cover courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the pressbook cover for the cliffhanger THE PHANTOM RIDER (Universal, 1936). Undercover lawman Buck Jones is sent by the Governor to Hidden Valley to track down a band of outlaws led by Harry Woods. Jones goes undercover, disguising himself with an all white costume and cape as the "Phantom Rider".
DESERT PHANTOM (Supreme, 1936): a phantom sniper is trying to drive Sheila Mannors off her ranch and has killed her brother and some ranch hands. Johnny Mack Brown comes to the rescue.

(Courtesy of Ron McKnight)

MYSTERY OF THE HOODED HORSEMEN (Grand National, 1937): Tex Ritter has to fight off a mystery villain and a bunch of hooded riders in this lukewarm oater. That's prolific villain Charles King facing Tex. And notice all of the costumes with hoods and a skull emblem on their chest.

Above is a screen capture from RIDERS OF THE WHISTLING SKULL (Republic, 1937), the fourth film in the Three Mesquiteers series ... and universally regarded as an exceptional B western. The intrepid trio of Bob Livingston, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, and Max Terhune are with an expedition searching for a missing archaeologist and a lost city. At about 35 minutes into the film, they come across the skull, high atop a mountain overlooking the lost city. And desert winds blowing through the skeletal head cause a strange whistling sound. Superb B western with atmosphere, story, action ... everything. Veteran Oliver Drake co-authored the screenplay for WHISTLING. Years later, Drake re-used it for the Charlie Chan mystery, THE FEATHERED SERPENT (Monogram, 1948). Bob Livingston acted in both WHISTLING and SERPENT.
UTAH TRAIL (Grand National, 1938): Tex Ritter and sidekicks Horace Murphy and Snub Pollard versus Karl Hackett, Charlie King, et al and their "ghost train".

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

Above are the 'Roving Buckaroos' - from L-to-R are Sonny Lamont, Larry Mason (Art Davis), and Monte 'Alamo' Rawlins wearin' the cape in their one trio adventure, the dismal ADVENTURES OF THE MASKED PHANTOM (Equity, 1939). Rawlins' real name was Dean Spencer. Davis had done singing and fiddlin' with Gene Autry, Bill Elliott, Jack Luden and Tim McCoy. And in the early 1940s, he teamed up with Lee 'Lone Ranger' Powell and Bill 'Cowboy Rambler' Boyd in the weak Frontier Marshal trio series churned out by PRC.

(From Old Corral collection)

The masked and caped Ken Maynard is atop the new (and white) Tarzan II in this title lobby card from PHANTOM RANCHER (Colony, 1940) which was released in the Spring of 1940. He plays a Robin Hood type character helping Dorothy Short and other ranchers save their homesteads from Ted Adams and gang.
THE RANGE BUSTERS (Monogram, 1940): the initial entry in the twenty four Range Busters adventures has Ray Corrigan, John King and Max Terhune in a whodunit about a black cloaked phantom killer at the Circle T Ranch. And there's a hidden vein of gold and a mine under the ranch house. Is the phantom Leroy Mason ... or Earle Hodgins ... or Frank LaRue?
SKY BANDITS (Monogram, 1940); another "airplanes being shot out of the sky by a death ray" theme similar to Tim McCoy's GHOST PATROL (Puritan, 1936). The hero is melodic James Newill as "Renfrew of the Royal Mounted".

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Pressbook cover above for the Range Busters in THE TRAIL OF THE SILVER SPURS (Monogram, 1941). There's a ghost town, a secret passage behind a grandfather clock in an old hotel, an abandoned gold mine ... and I. Stanford Jolley as a mysterious killer named "The Jingler" ... who wears noisy spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle.
MYSTERIOUS RIDER (PRC, 1942): Buster Crabbe (as Billy the Kid) and trail pard Al 'Fuzzy' St. John find trouble with John Merton and gang who are operating out of a ghost town and searching for a lost vein of gold. Fuzzy does some funny - and spooky - comic bits.
GHOST TOWN LAW (Monogram, 1942): Rough Riders yarn with Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton dealing with hidden tunnels, masked figures, secret passages, and a gang of outlaws trying to conceal a lost vein of gold running under an ol' dark house. A lot of "old dark house" atmosphere but not much action ... and no ghosts.
THE GHOST RIDER (Monogram, 1943): Johnny Mack Brown's first western for Monogram has him portraying a ghost rider out to avenge those who killed his family.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from L-to-R are John 'Dusty' King, Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, Charlie King, Rex Lease, Bud Osborne, Glenn Strange and Max Terhune in a lobby card from HAUNTED RANCH (Monogram, 1943). Stunt wizard Dave Sharpe started the film as a member of the trio but had to exit for World War II duty. Veteran Rex Lease came in to finish the film. Not any ghosts or haunting in this. Story is about evil spirits protecting a stash of gold on the ol' Triangle W Ranch. The scene in this lobby card is just prior to the closing brawl ... then Fred Toones discovers the "Little Brown Jug" tune which must be played on the organ ... and playing the song opens a secret wall passage with missing gold from the Denver Mint.

(From Old Corral collection)

THE WHISPERING SKULL (PRC, 1944) is one of the better adventures in PRC's Texas Rangers trio series. Tex Ritter, Dave O'Brien and Guy Wilkerson are after a mysterious night rider that wears a skull like leather mask and rides a horse that makes no noise and leaves no tracks.

WILD HORSE PHANTOM (PRC, 1944): this Buster Crabbe entry includes lots of Al 'Fuzzy' St. John comical hijinks as he gets attacked by a large bat while searching for some hidden loot in an old mine. Ever thrifty PRC dragged the winged bat critter out of mothballs - probably the same flying bat prop used several years earlier in Bela Lugosi's THE DEVIL BAT (PRC, 1940).

That Fuzzy vs. Devil Bat scene occurs at around the 37 minute mark in the film. Some screen captures above - but the cave is very dark and not many good shots of the bat. Ol' Budd Buster plays a crazy miner.

GHOST GUNS (Monogram, 1944): in this Johnny Mack Brown oater, Jack Ingram gets scared when the good guys and gals stage a ghostly appearance of Riley Hill, whom the baddies thought they had killed.
SPOOK TOWN (PRC, 1944): not much spookiness goin' on here - Texas Rangers Dave O'Brien, Jim Newill and Guy Wilkerson versus an outlaw band that operates out of a ghost town called "Mystic".
HIS BROTHER'S GHOST (PRC, 1945): Al 'Fuzzy' St. John plays a dual role as brothers in this Buster Crabbe oater, which is among the best of their long running series for Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Andy Jones is killed by the no-goods, and Fuzzy does a ghostly impersonation of his brother to scare and snare the villains.
SUNSET IN EL DORADO (Republic, 1945): one of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans best. In this, Dale journeys west to learn more about her grandmother, who was once the queen of the Golden Nugget saloon. When Dale's car breaks down, Roy rescues her and takes her to El Dorado which is now a ghost town. And in a dream sequence, Dale becomes "Kansas Kate", her own grandmother.

(From Old Corral collection)

Buster Crabbe and John Cason are mixing it up in the upper right, and Jean Carlin and Fuzzy St. John in the lower left in this lobby card from GHOST OF HIDDEN VALLEY (PRC, 1946). Based on the title, you think there would be lots of spookiness in this one. Nope! Just ol' Fuzzy going on and on about his fear of ghosts.
HAUNTED MINE (Monogram, 1946): secret passages, an old mine, and a crazed killer that uses a razor to slash his victims add up to one of Johnny Mack Brown's better "Nevada Jack MacKenzie" adventures.
BANDITS OF DARK CANYON (Republic, 1947): Allan 'Rocky' Lane is a Texas Ranger who encounters a ghost town, an empty grave, and a lost gold mine.
DANGEROUS VENTURE (United Artists, 1947): William Boyd (as Hopalong Cassidy) and his saddle pals, Rand Brooks and Andy Clyde, get tangled up with a "ghost Indian tribe" that are accused of rustling.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - title lobby card from the Hopalong Cassidy adventure UNEXPECTED GUEST (United Artist, 1947) and the story is about a caped killer at the Box O Ranch.
RIMFIRE (Lippert/Screen Guild, 1949): townsfolk strung up the Abilene Kid (Reed Hadley) ... and the Kid's ghost takes revenge on those who hung him.

(From Old Corral collection)

In Gene Autry's RIDERS IN THE SKY (Columbia, 1949), Tom London (above - right) has a great role. He's the grizzled (and nice) "Old Man Roberts" who dies at the end. Gene sings the title song ... and London becomes the newest member of the band of ghost riders gallopin' on white horses ... in the sky.

RIM OF THE CANYON (Columbia, 1949): Gene Autry plays a dual role as himself and his father. Gene winds up in a ghost town where pretty Nan Leslie is trying to contact the ghost of Thurston Hall.
WHISTLING HILLS (Monogram, 1951): Johnny Mack Brown and pal James Ellison in a tale of stage robberies and a black caped, whistling ghost rider.

Back to prior page