Besides a slew of zombie cowboy films, western and horror seem like genres that do not intermix often. The history of the weird and the western seem to have a limited amount of crossover with the rpg Deadlands and the DC series Weird Western Tales. For the latter Jonah Hex and the Riders of the Worm and Such is the only cthulluoid engagement. The story of the former resolves around a Sioux Shaman who opens a portal to the spirit world in order to bring spirits who feed on fear, to create a hell on earth to punish European invaders.
Given the retributive magic of indian burial grounds and the brutal enlightenment violence of manifest destiny – the western seems an apt genre for a horror/weird hybridization. It seems Neil Marshall (of The Descent) will be directing a Lovecraftian Western.
The groundwork for has been laid in darker westerns which tend to be darker in their revisionism but more indirectly, in the music and their more desolate imagery. The west has the voidic landscape (think Carpenter’s and Lovecraft’s Arctic), intensive ungroundings (mining, oil drilling) as well as clashing histories with pagan pantheons and so forth.
It would not be hard at all to imagine the early scenes of There Will Be Blood descending into a Lovecraftian nightmare – with dripping tentacles ascending from a pool of oil. Some of the more unpleasant imagery from McCarthy’s Blood Meridian would be right at home as well – particularly those of scalping and the infamous tree of dead babies.
The narrative resistance may lie in the trauma bearing, revenge and protection motifs all central to westerns which dont quite line up with the tenets of horror (or at least horror proper). Western’s too quickly exteriorize desolation and trauma (The Proposition being a glaring exception). The key lies in placing the trauma onto the gunslingers and the pointless violence onto the the cthulloid monster – where the desolation of the land is the desolation monstrous violence.
Filed under: film, trauma | 6 Comments
Tags: deadlands, genre mixing, lovecraft, westerns