ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

If you're out prospecting for GORE in the Wild West, there's something in that dry desert air... while horror-westerns are not a new thing, there's been a bunch of exceptionally bloody movies riding into the cinematic sunset of late... Check out the bloodiest entries in the recent wave of R-Rated Western horrors leaving guts in the dust!

Bone Tomahawk

'Bone Tomahawk' [Credit: RLJ Entertainment]
'Bone Tomahawk' [Credit: RLJ Entertainment]
  • Released: Limited US release 23 October 2015 but seen by a wider audience when it dropped on Amazon Prime and Netflix in 2016.
  • Tagline: John Brooder: An Armed Gentleman

Four hardened riders set out to rescue their townsfolk, taken captive by a bunch of cannibal cavemen. Sheer brutality is the driving force behind this gripping tale that hits like a bone tomahawk to the sagittal suture.

Any doubt that Bone Tomahawk crosses the line between western and horror was wiped away by the following vicious scene, where a bunch of murderous savages get, quite literally, medieval on this poor chap's ass.

See also:

Kill or Be Killed

'Kill or Be Killed' [Credit: RLJ Entertainment]
'Kill or Be Killed' [Credit: RLJ Entertainment]
  • Released: 1 March 2016
  • Tagline: You can't outrun the Devil.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, criminal Claude Barbee leads his gang of outlaws to a hidden stash of loot. The law isn't the only force pursuing Barbee's raping, reaving reprobates, but is the dark creature picking his men off one by one a real, corporeal monster or an allegory for creeping conscience?

The flow of the film is occasionally interrupted by cheesy freeze frames that'd be more appropriate at the end of an '80s high school movie, but the darkness and discord of the storyline will keep you on board.

Outlaws & Angels

'Outlaws & Angels' [Credit: Momentum Pictures]
'Outlaws & Angels' [Credit: Momentum Pictures]
  • Released: July 15, 2016

Baby-faced cutie Chad Michael Murray (Freaky Friday, A Cinderella Story) gets his teen heartthrob status grimed up in this dirty little Western revenge horror. When the gang get to the house of Florence Tildon (Francesca Eastwood) and her strict Christian family, the action turns to a deadly question of 'who's playing who?'

It plays like I Spit On Your Grave in breeches and bonnets, and the trigger warning-worthy shocks make up for any thematic shortcomings.

In a Valley of Violence

'In a Valley of Violence' [Credit: Blumhouse Productions]
'In a Valley of Violence' [Credit: Blumhouse Productions]
  • Released: 21 October 2016
  • Tagline: Keep Your Finger on the Trigger

Drifter Paul (Ethan Hawke) is minding his own business in a pisspot one horse town when a bunch of local thugs decide to pick a fight. Mess with Paul, a man'll get a knock, but survive. Mess with his dog, however, and everyone involved will be swiftly and bloodily dispatched.

Horror helmer Ti West (The Sacrament, The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil) and horror powerhouse Blumhouse teamed up to make this film, in case there were any doubt as to its horror credentials.

In March 2017 the horror-Western trend continues with Brimstone, which caused uproar at its Venice and Toronto Film Festival premiers for its depiction of extreme violence.


Do you think a Western can ever truly be a horror movie?


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