The Western horror genre is often considered one of the rarest and rarest in the film industry. These unique films combine classic horror movie tropes with traditional western movie setting, creating a mix that is sometimes eerie, sometimes campy, but always entertaining. Here are the best western horror movies of all time, ranked.
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A cult classic in the horror and western genres, Tremors follows a group of survivors in a small town who must deal with giant man-eating worms that have suddenly appeared underground. With the help of an eccentric seismologist, they must find a way to destroy the creatures before they consume everyone in town.
Starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, Tremors is a perfect example of how fun and entertaining a western horror movie can be. Over-the-top effects and B-movie sensibilities make Tremors a living film that still holds up today.
Set in 1879, JT Petty’s The Burrowers tells the story of a group of settlers who disappeared without a trace in Dakota Territory. When a search party is sent to find them, they soon discover that the missing colonists have been abducted by subterranean creatures called “Burrowers”.
This movie really dares to be different with its original take on the genre, combining the classic western setting with a more modern twist. Petty’s atmospheric direction and creature designs and effects are excellent, making The Burrowers a great western watch for any horror fan.
8 The Devil’s Rejects
Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects is a sequel to his 2003 film House of 1000 Corpses. This episode follows the Firefly family – a group of psychopathic criminals – as they go on a rampage of murder and mayhem across Texas.
Although The Devil’s Rejects isn’t technically a Western, it features many of the same tropes and settings. Zombie’s signature style is on full display here, with plenty of nods to The Wild Bunch, Bonnie & Clyde, and other classic Western-influenced crime movies. Often met with mixed reactions, The Devil’s Rejects is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of movie that fans will find themselves debating.
7 dead birds
Alex Turner’s 2004 Dead Birds is an intense, atmospheric film that follows a group of Confederate soldiers who rob a bank and take refuge in an abandoned plantation house. Soon they realize that the house is haunted by the ghosts of former slaves and they have to fight for their lives against the spirits.
Dead Birds is another great example of a western horror film that takes a unique approach to the genre. There are standout performances from a talented cast, and a slow-burning sense of dread makes some scenes truly unsettling as they turn into terrifying jump scares.
6 John Carpenter’s Vampires
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As one of John Carpenter’s most underrated films, Vampires is a prime example of a Western horror film not getting the attention it deserves. The film follows a group of vampire hunters who are hired by the Catholic Church to eliminate a nest of vampires in New Mexico.
Carpenter’s direction is excellent, and the film features great action sequences and special effects. The cast is excellent too, with James Woods leading the way as vampire hunter Jack Crow. The film has an unmistakable Western feel to it, and the New Mexico setting is the perfect backdrop for a vampire story.
5 Silent Tongue
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Silent Tongue is a 1993 western horror film directed by Sam Shepard. One of the last films to feature River Phoenix, Silent Tongue tells a story set in 1873 about a man mourning the death of his wife. He tries to keep her corpse in an effort to prevent her soul from passing into the afterlife and ends up going mad in the process.
One of the more unusual and initially hard to digest films here, Silent Tongue is a Western horror film that requires multiple viewings. Each actor delivers a great performance, but it’s Phoenix who really shines in this role, bringing Shepard’s typically excellent dialogue to life.
4 Sundown: The Retreating Vampire
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat is a 1989 western horror comedy film directed by Anthony Hickox. Set in the small town of Purgatory, the film follows a group of vampires who live oddly normal lives with the help of SPF 100 sunscreen and a human blood substitute, Necktarine. Essentially, this movie is a parody of the vampire genre that pokes fun at some of the more ridiculous aspects of the lore.
With an excellent cast that includes Bruce Campbell and David Carradine, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat is a must-watch for horror comedy fans. It’s campy, over the top, and a lot of fun.
3 The Hills Have Eyes
Another less Western and more post-apocalyptic entry set in the desert, Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes is another classic film with elements of both genres. A vacationing family is targeted by a group of cannibals who live in the hills, and they must fight for their lives against the sadistic killers. The Nevada desert setting provides a unique and eerie backdrop for the events of the film.
As one of Craven’s earliest films, The Hills Have Eyes is an important entry into the horror and western genres. Even today, it’s an awe-inspiring and gruesome achievement in cinema, with great practical effects and a disturbing story.
2 The Wind
The Wind is a 2018 supernatural western horror film directed by Emma Tammi. The film follows a young couple who move to rural New Mexico in hopes of founding a colony. Soon, the main characters begin to realize that the land is haunted by a demonic presence, causing several twists that make this one of the most unique films on this list.
The Wind is a beautiful and heartbreaking film with a non-linear story that keeps viewers guessing until the end. The 19th century setting is one of the most underutilized periods in horror, and this movie does a great job of using it to its full potential.
1 bone tomahawk
Bone Tomahawk is a 2015 western horror film directed by S. Craig Zahler which stars Kurt Russell and Patrick Wilson. This slow-burning film follows a group of cowboys who set out to rescue several kidnapped settlers from a tribe of violent cannibals.
Although it’s not for everyone, Bone Tomahawk is an excellent film that masterfully blends the western and horror genres. Compared to most movies on this list, there are quite a few bloody, violent, and gruesome scenes. The first half of the film is a long, simple western, but things escalate in a horrible direction in the second half. Each character is well developed and the acting is top notch. Horror fans should definitely check this one out for its unique take on the genre; that seems to be the paradoxical appeal of many horror westerns – most of them are downright unique. The western horror genre isn’t often explored, but it can offer some truly quirky and enjoyable experiences.