The Range Busters were one of the "Trio Western" B-movie series from Monogram Pictures the other series was the Rough Riders). The Range Busters were featured in 24 westerns from 1940 to 1943 so you know they were quick and dirty films were low production standards.
Ray "Crash" Corrigan was one of The Three Mesquiteers over at Republic Pictures when he got into a salary dispute. After making 24 films in that seriTerhunees he left and struck a deal with monogram to make oaters on his Corriganville Movie Ranch. Corrigan and fellow Three Mesquiteer actor Max "Alibi" Terhune formed two-thirds of the Range Busters; singing cowboy John "Dusty" King completed the trio. (Actually, that's a base canard. Terhune also brought his ventriloquist dummy Elmer to the series, kind of playng havoc with the whole trio thing.) After sixteen films Corrigan left the series for a while over another salary dispute. He was replaced with stuntman David Sharpe.
Haunted Ranch was the 20th in the series and is a good example of how quickly (and cheaply) these pictures were made. Halfway through the movie, Sharpe up and enlisted in the Army Air Force and was sent for pilot training. Rather than reshoot footage, the powers that be just had Sharpe's character enlist in the Spanish American War halfway through the flick, to be replaced by Rex Lease playng Deputy Rex Lease. To add to the confusion, the three previous flicks had moved the series timelime to the current day before going back to the old west for this film.
Not much haunting going on around here. Somewhere on ranch is hidden a cache of stolen bullion. The bad guys, led by Glenn Strange, want it. The ranch owner has died and left the property to a niece and a nephew who had never met. On his way to the ranch, the nephew is murdered. The Range Busters come across the body and Dusty King assumed his identity in order to find out what is going on. Dusty meets the niece and she is just as cute as a bug's ear. The baddies hide out in the cellar, making ghostly noises to scare everybody away from the ranch. Fred "Snowflake" Toones plays the comic Negro foil who doesn't like ghosts. Dusty sings a song.
A mindless 57 minutes but worth it if you like cheesy westerns with trite plots. The presence of Glenn Strange is just an added plus.
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