Horror Westerns

February 7, 2010

After I found that quote of Starrett talking about his neighbor Boris Karloff, I got to thinking about Horror and Westerns and wondering about a genre of “Horror Westerns.”

You know.  BOO! plus Giddy-up!

Off the top of my head, I could only think of a very few titles that fit this description.  2001’s “Frailty” features a supernatural horror plot set in a modern Western setting.  Klaus Kinksi’s character in “A Few Dollars More” would feel at home in a horror film, with his hump and his ego. And, of course, I consider most scenes in any film featuring Smiley Burnette to be horrific.

So I consulted our resident horror experts.  Nick reminded me of 1999’s “Ravenous” about cannibalism in a pre-Civil War fort.   Josh chimed in with “The Burrowers” from 2007, a twisted version of “The Searchers” where instead of Indians we have Monsters.  Rodney broadened the definition of the genre with these titles: “The Killer Inside Me”, “From Dusk Til Dawn” and “Night Of The Hunter”.

On-line sources site such early sixties films as “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula” and “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”.  Apparently Ed Wood had a script for something called “The Ghoul Goes West” which he hoped to make with Bela Lugosi playing Dracula in the Old West.

Are there any B-Westerns that fit this description?

Ah ha!  There is a DVD called “Creepy Cowboys”. This collection touts four Westerns, dubbed by the folks at Image Entertainment as “Horror Westerns”.

And this DVD is what I’m going to talk about for the rest of this post.

Unfortunately, two of the films are of the “bad guy dresses as a phantom to scare off settlers” ilk.  This is a familiar plot for B-Western fans.  And fans of morning cartoons.

“Desert Phantom” is a good example of this type of film — long on the Western, short on the horror.  A crooked jerk from town has discovered gold on the ranch of unsuspecting homesteaders.   He’s killing cowhands to scare the folk off.  He’s considered a “phantom” because he shoots from the hills and no one has ever seen him (pretty weak) and shot one guy inside a locked house and just disappeared (through a trap door we later discover — weaker yet!)

Horror-beat-wise, “Desert Phantom” has Johnny Mack Brown following some footprints through a creepy abandoned mine and that’s about it for horror.

The next two films in the “Creepy Cowboys” collection are “Vanishing Riders” and “Tombstone Canyon”.  Trust me, I was doing everything I could to find horror in these two films.  These are NOT horror films.

However, the fourth film in the collection fits the bill.  “The Rawhide Terror” has a legitimate claim to the genre.

Tune in soon for the NEXT POST on “The Rawhide Terror.”  It’s creepy, it has cowboys in it, it’s part of the “Creepy Cowboy” DVD collection, it’s not very scary, but it’s definitely a Horror Western…


2 Responses to “Horror Westerns”

  1. Rodney said

    I can’t believe this genre isn’t more common. Are we not missing some huge deposit of Cowboy Horror movies hidden in plain site? I guess there’s Ghost Rider, which is maybe pushing it a little, and the upcoming Jonah Hex – – – of course both come from comics, a medium with a proud tradition of cowboy horror (or Weird Westerns)

  2. Want to invite you to check out our behind the scenes blog for the upcoming horror film BRANDED!


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