The Weird, Weird West: Horror-Western Movies

Horror and Western seem like two genres that would rarely, if ever, mix, but in fact, cinematic horror-Western hybrids date back to the early silent era of film. Here's a not-quite-comprehensive list. 


Haunted Range (1926)

The Haunted Range
© Davis Distributing
Silent film about a cowboy trying to solve the murder of his father at the hands of a ghostly figure known as "The Black Rider."

Haunted Gold (1932)

Haunted Gold
© Vitagraph Pictures

This early John Wayne feature stars the Duke as a man who inherits an abandoned mine that's rumored to be haunted. The "ghost," however, turns out to be more of the Scooby Doo "I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you darn kids" variety -- as was the case in several ghostly westerns of this era, including Speeding Hoofs (1927) and Haunted Ranch (1943).

This dark Western has the feel of a Gothic horror movie, featuring Charles Middleton (best known as Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon films of the '30s) as a sadistic land baron who holds a young woman prisoner in order to force her to marry him.
"The Three Mesqueteers" (including Ray "Crash" Corrigan) star in the tale of a posse searching for a missing archeologist who run afoul of an evil Native American cult -- and even a mummy.
An Allosaurus terrorizes a local Mexican cattle-herding community -- at least, for the final 20 minutes of the movie.

Curse of the Undead (1959)

Curse of the Undead
© Universal International
A small-town feud is complicated by the arrival of a Spanish vampire cowboy in this lesser-known entry in Universal's legendary horror legacy.

The Living Coffin (1959)

The Living Coffin
© Casanegra

In this Mexican adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Premature Burial" (adapted three years later to greater acclaim by Roger Corman), a cowboy lawman visits a family haunted by ghosts and vampires. This is one of several Mexican horror westerns of the era, including The Headless Rider (1957), Swamp of the Lost Monster (1957), Night Riders (1959) and Ship of the Monsters (1960).

Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966)

Billy the Kid vs. Dracula
© Cheezy Flicks

One of two ridiculous camp horror-Westerns (see below) from low-budget "quickie" director William "One Shot" Beaudine, this film places Dracula in the Wild West, plotting to hypnotize and marry a local young lady. However, her fiance is none other than Billy the Kid, who vows to put a stop to the vampire shenanigans.

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter
© Embassy Pictures
The granddaughter (not daughter) of Dr. Frankenstein travels to the American Southwest to harness the power of electrical storms to help bring the brain of her grandfather's monster to life in the body of Jesse James' dimwitted sidekick.

This popular creature feature featuring the stop-motion effects of the legendary Ray Harryhausen covers similar ground to The Beast of Hollow Mountain, as American circus folk discover a mysterious valley in Mexico that contains dinosaurs, including an Allosaurus (dubbed "Gwangi") that they attempt to turn into a circus attraction. Mistake.

Black Noon (1971)

Black Noon
© CBS
This TV movie combines a period Western with the '70s obsession with Satanism, as a preacher encounters a town controlled by a cult of devil worshippers.
Oddball cult film about a mutant sheep that attacks a small modern-day town whose residents for some reason dress in Wild West gear. Nothing really makes sense here.

Westworld (1973)

Westworld
© MGM
In this techno-thriller directed by novelist Michael Crichton (based on his own book), cowboy robots at a Western-themed amusement park malfunction, with murderous results.

Also known as Curse of Demon Mountain, this supernatural Western stars Joe Don Baker as a Civil War veteran searching for buried treasure on a supposedly cursed mountain.

This middling sequel to the hit 1986 horror-comedy House adopts a Western theme, as a man discovers that his parents were killed by a zombie cowboy.

Ghost Town (1988)

Ghost Town (1988)
© New World Pictures

A modern-day policeman tracks a missing woman to a ghost town run by an undead outlaw and his ghostly posse.

Devil Rider (1989)

Devil Rider (1989)
© CFP Video
An escapee from Hell returns to his earthly stomping ground and kills people staying on the ranch that was built on his territory.

Grim Prairie Tales (1990)

Grim Prairie Tales
© Academy

James Earl Jones and Brad Dourif star in this anthology of Western-themed horror stories told around a campfire.

Mary Stuart Masterson stars in this dramatic tale of young frontier woman who marries a farmer who goes through dramatic changes every full moon.

Ravenous (1999)

Ravenous (1999)
© 20th Century Fox

Perhaps the best horror-Western ever, Guy Pearce stars in this darkly comedic tale as a 19th century soldier stationed in a remote mountain outpost where he encounters a stranger (Robert Carlyle) whose time in the wilderness has given him a taste for human flesh.

 

Legend of the Phantom Rider (2002)

Legend of the Phantom Rider
© MTI
A mysterious, scarred stranger (Jonah Hex anyone?) arrives in a small frontier town to exact vengeance on a group of outlaws who rule the territory.
A group of modern-day kids stumbles upon a treasure in an abandoned old mine, unaware that the gold is protected by an undead 19th-century prospector.
A group of travelers at a remote stage coach station fall prey to a deadly Native American curse.

A group of teens is carjacked in the middle of nowhere and end up in a ghost town run by a zombie cowboy and his undead minions.

In this direct-to-video sequel, the origin of the desert town of Perfection is explored, returning to the 19th century, a time when the local silver mine is threatened by large maneating worm-like "graboids."

Dead Birds (2005)

Dead BIrds
© Sony

Michael Shannon, Henry Thomas, Isaiah Washington and Patrick Fugit star as Civil War vets who rob a bank and flee to an abandoned plantation that turns out to house an evil entity. 

This Western-themed zombie movie operates in an alternate reality in which the world is overrun by zombies, and cowboy bounty hunters stalk and kill them for money.

BloodRayne 2: Deliverance (2007)

BloodRayne 2: Deliverance
© Vivendi
Much-maligned director Uwe Boll returns for the sequel that nobody wanted, as half-human, half-vampire Rayne travels to America during the 1800s to battle a vampiric Billy the Kid, who's seeking to build an army of cowboy vampires.
A Wild West outlaw makes a deal with the devil to return to Earth, to gain revenge on a present-day town.
A group of frontier women on the run ends up in a town haunted by spirit of a murderous cowboy.

This horror-comedy stars Chris Kattan and Desperate Housewives' James Denton as petty cowboy criminals fleeing from a zombie posse afflicted by a rapidly spreading Native American curse.

Set in the 19th century American West, this western-meets-creature feature finds a group of settlers battling an unknown foe that stalks them from beneath the ground.

Copperhead (2008)

Copperhead
© Universal
SyFy fare about an Old West town menaced by killer snakes.

Ghost Town (2009)

Ghost Town
© Universal
More SyFy fare, this time about a group of students on a field trip who end up stranded in a literal ghost town occupied by the spirits of a cult of evil cowboys.
Hey, it's more from SyFy! This time, insectoid aliens invade an Old West town.

Jonah Hex (2010)

Jonah Hex
© Warner Bros.

Based on the popular comic book, a scarred gunslinger with supernatural abilities battles a terrorist seeking to unleash Hell.

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The Dead and the Damned (2011)

The Dead and the Damned
© CreateSpace

AKA Cowboys & Zombies, this zombie movie finds miners during the Gold Rush turning into the walking dead after coming in contact with spores from a meteor. A sequel was released in 2014.

Exit Humanity (2012)

Exit Humanity (2011)
© Bloody Disgusting Selects

This dramatic and introspective Canadian movie about a Civil War vet making his way through a zombie apocalypse plays like a 19th century feature film version of The Walking Dead.

Gallowwalkers (2012)

Gallowwalkers
© Lionsgate

Wesley Snipes stars in this long-delayed tale of a cursed cowboy whose victims all return from the dead, seeking revenge.

Cowboys & Vampires (2013)

Cowboys & Vampires
© Origin

 It's cowboys and vampires. What more do you need to know?

Dead in Tombstone (2013)

Dead in Tombstone (2013)
© Universal

Murdered by his own gang, outlaw Danny Trejo makes a deal with Satan (Mickey Rourke) to send the backstabbers to Hell in his place.

Devil's Deal (2013)

Devil's Deal (2013)
© Lionsgate

Having been promised the souls of residents of a small town years ago, the Devil arrives intending to collect. 

Revelation Trail (2013)

Revelation Trail (2013)
© Entertainment One

 A preacher and a lawman team up to survive a zombie uprising.

Cowboys vs. Zombies (2014)

Cowboys vs. Zombies
© Phase 4

 See Cowboys & Vampires.

A Vampire's Tale (2014)

A Vampire's Tale
© Lionsgate

Hellraiser's Doug Bradley stars as a family man whose home life is interrupted by a vampire cowboy seeking revenge on his maker.

Blood Moon (2015)

Blood Moon
© Uncork'd

A stagecoach full of travelers must deal with not only a pair of bank robbers, but also a bloodthirsty werewolf.

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Bone Tomahawk movie poster
© RLJ Entertainment

Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins form a ragtag posse that sets out to rescue townspeople kidnapped by a tribe of cave-dwelling cannibals.

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Harris, Mark H. "The Weird, Weird West: Horror-Western Movies." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-weird-weird-west-horror-western-movies-1873267. Harris, Mark H. (2017, March 3). The Weird, Weird West: Horror-Western Movies. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-weird-weird-west-horror-western-movies-1873267 Harris, Mark H. "The Weird, Weird West: Horror-Western Movies." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-weird-weird-west-horror-western-movies-1873267 (accessed October 21, 2017).