The horror genre is undoubtedly one of the most malleable genres in all of cinema, as it has seen a plethora of hybrids created in its wake ranging from Horror Comedy all the way to Horror Romance, but one hybrid genre doesn't get nearly the love it deserves from filmmakers of audiences, and that is the Western Horror movie. On the surface, Western Horror movies seem like a radically bizarre idea, as these two genres seemingly couldn't be further apart, but surprisingly this couldn't be further from the truth. Horror and Westerns both toe the line of ingenuity, are fantastic character studies, and teleport audiences to a faraway and fantastical world long forgotten.
The most traditional type of Western Horror follows the stereotypical blueprint of what both genres should be to a tee and include Cowboys riding on horses fighting off supernatural or monstrous foes with tons of gore and gooeyness. Films like Bone Tomahawk and The Wind are the stereotypical and idealized versions of these films. Others, however, tend to blend the genres in a more unique way, focusing on themes and ideologies of Westerns, but thrusting them into the most sadistic scenarios humanly imaginable, like in Nope, Tremors, and Near Dark. There is no blueprint on how to make a tantalizing Western Horror movie, and that in and of itself is exciting as it is one of the most unique and untapped subgenres, ripe for innovation and expansion.
Vote up the best Western Horror of all time, and don't forget to check out The Best Horror Comedy Movies of All Time, The Best Horror Musicals of All Time, and The Scariest Sci-Fi Horror Movies of All Time to get more unique blends of the horror genre.
- Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures
One of the most sickening, relentless, and disgusting Western horror movies ever conceived, Wes Craven made a polarizing masterpiece with his 1977 hit The Hills Have Eyes. Set in the dusty desert of Nevada, a poor and helpless family on vacation finds themselves stranded as their car breaks down, and quickly comes to find they aren't alone in this strange and bizarre plot of land. Showcasing brutal and savage acts of violence and blood-curdling scenes of disturbing assault, The Hills Have Eyes is a shockingly bleak film from Craven, but the central metaphor and ideology of the film are so profound, it makes this remarkably difficult watch all the more satisfying.
Coming across a true-blue western horror movie is almost impossible as the polarizing combination isn't something too many filmmakers want to try their hands at, but instead want to sprinkle elements of both genres into to create something spectacular, and no film manages to blend elements of action, adventure, western, and horror better than Tremors. A sublime 90s monster movie, Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward shine in this immensely fun and fantastically frightening film about a group of small-town lads who must survive against giant mutant monstrous worms who travel under the ground.
- Photo: Bone Tomahawk3
Dirty, vicious, cold, and outstandingly brutal, Bone Tomahawk is the quintessential Western horror movie as it combines elements from both polarizing genres together in, arguably, the best way it's ever been done. Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, and Matthew Fox all shine in this sadistic film that follows a sheriff and his followers as they go on the hunt to find a missing stranger and doctor, only to find a slew of bloodthirsty cannibals in their wake. From shocking bursts of violence to sun-beamed stars to a genuine look and feel of an old-timey western, Bone Tomahawk is one of the best horror westerns of all time.
- Photo: The Wind
A demonic horror film set in the American West throughout the 1800s is not the stereotypical horror setting most major horror fans are used to, but in 2018's The Wind, this bizarre setup and location are exactly what is delivered. Following a resourceful frontierswoman who isolates herself on a desolate plot of land in the 19th century, audiences slowly being to realize just as she does that there is something not quite right in this land and that something far more sinister lies in wait. While the film isn't the biggest or best horror movie, its unique genre-bending and one-of-a-kind setting helps it stand apart from anything that has come before it.
The Burrowers follows a group of men who go on the hunt to uncover a band of settlers that have mysteriously vanished. While they assume that it was simply Native Americans who caused the ruckus, they soon discover that the real enemy is a haunting and devilishly sinister creature from beloved their feet. A film is widely considered an underrated horror gem that, while throwing every western cliche imaginable, still manages to feel fun, frightening, and fresh for modern audiences.
- Photo: Miramax Films
From the sandy deserts of Mexico to the run-down desolate wasteland of Texas, From Dusk Till Dawn follows the template of a traditional Western to a tee, that is of course until the blood-sucking vampires show up. A film that knows exactly what it is and what it wants to be, From Dusk Till Dawn is a camp masterclass from camp master Robert Rodriguez, that offers up fans a brutal, barbaric, and blood-thirsty good time as two brothers on the run after robbing a bank must fight their way throughout the largest horde of vampires just to survive the night.