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What is Western Horror?

Western horror is a cross-genre of both the Western and horror genres in the film sense but can be attributed to books as well. It takes the basic principles and fundamentals of horror by adding Western themes and tropes to it. The crossgenre dates back its film days to Curse of the Undead(1958) and Billy the Kid vs Dracula(1966).

In book terms, the western horror genre could also be considered a subgenre of Weird West in which a western is blended into other genres such as horror, fantasy, and sci-fi to create a strange or weirder take on the genre. The first known print using the term weird west was DC's Weird Western Tales in 1972, but the idea is older as the genres have been blended since the 1930s with B-Movies, comic books, and magazines. One of the earliest examples of a weird western is the short story "The Horror from the Mound" by Robert E. Howard, published in the May 1932 issue of Weird Tales magazine, and the novelette "Spud and Cochise" by anthropologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oliver La Farge, published in 1936.

However, the genre has come a long way since then and has taken on a much different look over the last twenty-plus years or so. While unsure of what exactly was “weird” about the early weird westerns and western, these days the genres are quite defined and easy to differentiate between the regular genres from which they derive. Weird West tends to bend the traditional Western by adding futuristic technology and weaponry, along with drastically altered settings, and usually having famous gunslingers facing some of the horror and science fiction's infamous creatures. Western horror also does this but the blend of westerns being dark in their own right and horror naturally being dark by nature create a terrific combination that sometimes just fits so well together. Today, some of the best weird west and western horror authors are Joe R. Landsdale, Eric S. Brown, Edward Erdelac, Tim Curran, and Mike Resnick just to name a few. These men should be quite proud to not only be part of such a unique subgenre but to have created some great works to which people can appreciate within it.


Outside of the book aspect, movies of the weird west and western horror genres are still being made as well as video games. The Red Dead Redemption video game series is one of the most popular today and takes the Wild West concept and mixes it with our fascination with horror and zombies creating a whole world and fun franchise for us to enjoy. There is also the Deadlands online series, as well as a few more. The weird west and western horror genre is a small one but don’t let that fool you for one second as this genre is only becoming more and more popular by the day. The more people who write within the genre and the more people create weird west/horror films and video games, the more on the rise this creative and innovative genre will become.

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