The Crimson Ghost

The Crimson Ghost is a 1946 12-chapter Republic film serial directed by Fred C. Brannon and William Witney with Charles Quigley and Linda Stirling playing the leads. This was Witney's last serial, after a career that left him one of the most praised of all serial directors. The serial was re-released as a six-episode television series in the 1950s and as a television film called Cyclotrode "X" in 1966. In the 1990s The Crimson Ghost was one of only two Republic serials to be colorized. The villain of the serial, the Crimson Ghost of the title, is one of the most visually striking of the medium. The horror punk band Misfits adapted his visage as their skull logo, and he has appeared in the music video for the song "The Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden.

The Crimson Ghost
Directed byFred C. Brannon
William Witney
Produced byRonald Davidson
Written byAlbert DeMond
Basil Dickey
Jesse Duffy
Sol Shor
StarringCharles Quigley
Linda Stirling
Clayton Moore
I. Stanford Jolley
Kenne Duncan
Forrest Taylor
Sam Flint
Joseph Forte
CinematographyBud Thackery
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
  • October 26, 1946 (1946-10-26) (U.S. serial)[1]
CountryUnited States


A mysterious villain, the eponymous Crimson Ghost, is determined to steal a counter atomic device known as Cyclotrode X, which can short out any electrical device.



The Crimson Ghost was budgeted at $137,912, although the final negative cost was $161,174 (a $23,262, or 16.9%, overspend). It was the most expensive Republic serial of 1946.[1] It was filmed between March 28 and April 24, 1946 under the working title The Scarlet Shadow.[1] The serial's production number was 1597.[1]

In order to prevent the audience deducing the identity of the Crimson Ghost, Stanford Jolley provided the voice, and was behind the costume. Jolley's role was minor but he received fourth-billing and was therefore highly suspect. When The Crimson Ghost was unmasked in the 12th and final chapter, he proved to be yet another actor entirely, Joseph Forte, who had played a character seemingly above suspicion at that point in the serial.

Television's future Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, played a rare villainous role in this serial as one of the Crimson Ghost's henchmen, a cold-hearted gangster named Ashe. This was director William Witney's last serial. His first was The Painted Stallion in 1937 and prior to this production had temporarily left the serial business to serve in World War II.


  • Dale Van Sickel as Duncan Richards (doubling Charles Quigley)
  • Polly Burson as Diana Farnsworth (doubling Linda Stirling)
  • Tom Steele as Ashe (doubling Clayton Moore & I. Stanford Jolley)
  • Joe Yrigoyen as Duncan Richards & Count Fator (doubling Charles Quigley & Stanley Price)

Special effects

The special effects were produced by Republic's Lydecker brothers.



The Crimson Ghost's official release date is 26 October 1946, although this is actually the date the sixth chapter was made available to film exchanges.[1]


In the early 1950s, The Crimson Ghost was one of fourteen Republic serials edited into a television series. It was broadcast in six 26½-minute episodes.[1] The Crimson Ghost was one of twenty-six Republic serials re-released as a film on television in 1966. The title of the film was changed to Cyclotrode "X". This version was cut down to 100 minutes in length.[1] The Crimson Ghost was one of two Republic serials to be colorized in the 1990s.[1]

Critical reception

Hans J. Wollstein from Allmovie called the film "One of the most entertaining serials to be released by Republic Pictures".[2] Author William C. Cline felt that The Crimson Ghost was the most striking and visually fascinating villain in any film serial.[3] On his website Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings, Dave Sindelar wrote, "This is considered one of the better serials out there, and rightfully so; it’s efficient, the fights are well staged, it’s packed with gadgets, and it has a great villain."[4]

Chapter titles

  1. Atomic Peril (20 min)
  2. Thunderbolt (13min 20s)
  3. The Fatal Sacrifice (13min 20s)
  4. The Laughing Skull (13min 20s)
  5. Flaming Death (13min 20s)
  6. Mystery of the Mountain (13min 20s)
  7. Electrocution (13min 20s)
  8. The Slave Collar (13min 20s) - a re-cap chapter
  9. Blazing Fury (13min 20s)
  10. The Trap that Failed (13min 20s)
  11. Double Murder (13min 20s)
  12. The Invisible Trail (13min 20s)



The punk rock band Misfits were the first to use the Crimson Ghost on their 1978 Horror Business EP, and later on a poster for a March 28, 1979 show at Max's Kansas City. The iconic skull-face image and character continues to serve as the Misfits' logo and mascot to this day.

Iron Maiden have also used the Crimson Ghost in their "The Number of the Beast" music video.

Full motion video clips from the Crimson Ghost serials were used in the Philips CD-i video game Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost, released by OlderGames in 2002. The gameplay involved watching clips from the serial and injecting the Jack Sprite character into the scene at certain times for fighting levels, with The Crimson Ghost acting as a boss character.

In the 2007 remake of Halloween, Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo) is wearing a Crimson Ghost costume.

See also


  1. Mathis, Jack (1995). Valley of the Cliffhangers Supplement. Jack Mathis Advertising. pp. 3, 10, 94–95. ISBN 0-9632878-1-8.
  2. Wollstein, Hans. "The Crimson Ghost [Serial] (1946) - Fred C. Brannon, William Witney". Hans J. Wollstein. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  3. Cline, William C. (1984). "3. The Six Faces of Adventure". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 52. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  4. Sindelar, Dave. "The Crimson Ghost (1946)". Fantastic Movie Dave Sindelar. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  5. Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 244. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
Preceded by
Daughter of Don Q (1946)
Republic Serial
The Crimson Ghost (1946)
Succeeded by
Son of Zorro (1947)
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