The Reprobate Movie Night: The Terror Of Tiny Town

Another long-lost cult classic for your viewing pleasure.

Cult films come and cult films go, some destined to remain legendary year after year and some that find themselves slipping back into the obscurity that they had been briefly rescued from. In the latter group is The Terror of Tiny Town, once a ubiquitous ‘bad’ film for cult viewers of the 1980s who were fed the film on a platter by pioneering VHS cult labels like Admit One but now barely mentioned. Sam Newfield’s ‘eccentric’ western might not be entirely unknown but you’ll rarely see it being referenced in the same way as movies by Ed Wood or other films that emerged into the cult film consciousness around the same time.

There are, of course, obvious reasons for this beyond the film’s rather questionable entertainment value. A western with an “all midget cast” might have been novel back in 1938 when the film was made and the sort of thing that caused wild hilarity from the 1970s through to the turn of the century amongst cynical sensation seekers, but you can’t imagine audiences today daring to laugh at the ludicrousness of it all – such mockery would be seen as little more than sizeist bigotry, and why shouldn’t little people have the right to play cowboys? Surely by saying that this film is exploitative, we are robbing the cast of their own agency and demanding that they fit into victim roles that they were probably doing everything that they could to escape from.

Reprobate readers, we hope, are less delicate and able to differentiate between cruelly mocking little people and simply being entertained by a movie that is just wrong-headed and shoddy in all aspects. It’s worth noting, though, that not only is the film played entirely straight by everyone involved but also that it garnered a lot of positive reviews at the time of its original release. The film’s subsequent reputation is as much down to changing production styles and the film’s crude look, something hardly unique to this movie. But let’s not forget that it’s a gimmicky movie, and gimmicky movies often seem laughable by their very conceit. And yeah… it’s also pretty bad anyway, though anything this completely odd can never be entirely dismissed. There’s no shame in laughing at the film, any more than there is in any other woefully misguided and entertainingly awful movie.

If The Terror of Tiny Town has fallen victim to delicate modern sensibilities, that’s a real shame. I can’t help but think that the world would be a better place with more well-intentioned, eccentric and utterly mad films like this being made now.–nVs

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One comment

  1. Terror of Tiny Town is avliable from about half-a-dozen PD DVD companies in the states, the most recent one being in 2015. It is hardly being suppressed as you suggest, anymore than dozens of other PD westerns.

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