The western horror does not belong to a huge niche, but there have been quite a few very good scary Western horror movies out there. We have gathered the best movies about gunslingers out for revenge, dust balls & the wild wild west.
The Burrowers (2008)
Horror is a genre full of off-the-radar gems, and The Burrowers is a prime example. Set in the Dakota Territory during the late 1870s, the movie starts off looking and feeling like a classic Western: a frontier family is the victim of kidnap and murder, and a posse heads off to find the Indians who they believe are responsible. Only, it turns out the perpetrators aren’t Indians, but something far stranger and more deadly, and in classic horror-movie fashion the hunters soon become the hunted.
High Plains Drifter (1973)
An unnamed stranger (Clint Eastwood) rides into the truly foul old west town, killing three local thugs and raping one woman within his first 10 minutes; and he’s as close as the film comes to having a hero. It’s on this list because it’s one of the greatest westerns ever made, and because the film leads you to believe that the supernatural might be in play; he might be a murdered man, somehow returned to life to take vengeance on the town that wronged him.
Grim Prairie Tales: Hit the Trail to…Terror” (1990)
“Wanna hear a story?” This twist on the horror anthology draws its title from a play on words with Grimm fairy tales, but these campfire yarns are more conceptual than blood curdling. James Earl Jones and Brad Dourif play travelers and uneasy campmates who swap scary stories over a long prairie night. Dourif is an Eastern intellectual who likes to deconstruct the tales, while Jones is a robust bounty hunter at first confused and then inspired by his companion’s commentary, a streak of meta-storytelling that runs through the film.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Sad but true: We don’t get all that many horror/Western hybrids these days (or ever, really) so it’s great to find a new one that not only works, but kicks butt under both genre headings. Bone Tomahawk is basically The Searchers meets The Hills Have Eyes, about a gang of well-intentioned townsfolk (led by Kurt Russell!) who head out to rescue a citizen who has been captured by a tribe of cannibalistic natives. Oddly literate for such a gruesome concoction, and that’s only one of the flick’s surprises.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Take a classic Western story like “outlaws on the lam,” set it in the modern day, add a shit-ton of vampires and you have From Dusk till Dawn. This love child of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez has become something of a cult classic over the years, and it’s easy to see why. A strong cast, headlined by George Clooney and Harvey Keitel, have some fun with a campy story and lots of over-the-top action, with plenty of scenery-chewing performances along the way.
Ravenous Cannibalism and comedy collide in the Old West in Ravenous. It’s a weird mixture, to be sure, but Ravenous pulls it off, thanks to a strong cast that includes Guy Pearce, Jeffrey Jones, David Arquette and Robert Carlyle. A clever take on one of the true horrors of the Old West — cannibalism — doesn’t hurt, either. The dark humor and some nifty twists complete the rest of this strong package. The only real question is why this movie is still, almost fifteen years after its release, so obscure.
Curse of the Undead (1959)
From Universal Pictures, home of the great golden age horror movies and the increasingly cheap monster movie team-ups, comes this clever genre mash-up: a gunslinging vampire in a frontier town. Clad in de rigueur black, Drake Robey (Michael Pate) isn’t the fastest draw in the West, but when you’re already dead, you don’t need to fire the first shot, merely the last. The production is strictly B-movie, from the stilted dialogue and sanctimonious stiff of a hero (Eric Fleming) to the generic-looking frontier set, but the bland township of the daytime becomes stark and eerie at night and the vaguely Spanish architecture provides some old world flourish.
Tremors chief antagonist is a giant worm / snake creature that lives under the ground. Its chief protagonist is played by Kevin Bacon as Val McKee who works as a handyman with his friend Earl. Strange things start happening nearby such as finding a man dead on top of a tower, apparently unable to leave the tower and thus dying of dehydration.
When a shepherd and his flock of sheep are also killed, Val and Earl travel to a nearby town to warn the inhabitants. They soon find out who the murderer is and it turns out to be a giant snake like creatures living under the ground which occasionally emerges to kill people and animals.
Although Tremors is a monster film, it is also quite amusing and not particularly scary, but it is great fun and definitely a re-watcher. It is such a great film generally down to its great cast and humour, and it is great entertainment.
Not exactly a horror film, and a meta-western at best, the terror of “Westworld” is not supernatural but technological: a Wild West frontier town amusement park gone out of control. The place is less a historical evocation than a rollicking movie fantasy come to life, with robots playing the roles of sheriff, gunfighters and dance hall floozies. Yul Brynner plays off his “Magnificent Seven” role as a bionic villain who dies at the hand of every guest who draws on him.
In a pioneer community of Dutch settlers in the old west, Liz (Dakota Fanning) is a mute woman, married to a decent widower, stepmother to his headstrong boy and mother to a little girl of her own. She is much admired for her skills as a midwife. But Liz is terrified when a new hellfire preacher comes into town to take up his job in the pulpit: the gaunt and scarred Reverend, played menacingly by Guy Pearce.
Where has this sinister man come from? It’s a question disturbingly but tacitly answered by the grisly end of the second chapter: the silent inference is one of the film’s best effects.