Western Horror

What is Western Horror?

Western Horror is a cross-genre. As you can guess from the title, the subgenre blends elements of the Western genre with Horror. A majority of the books in this genre involve a heavy Supernatural theme. An example of the Supernatural in these books would be a Native American Shaman putting a curse on someone. The villains in these stories are often of a Supernatural nature: Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, etc. The Western aspect could even simply be the landscapes -- the far lonesome landscapes of the wild west; deserts, plains, and other unoccupied unsettled land.

Some books in this genre are straight Western with the gore and violence pumped up to make them Western Horror.

Westerns often have a colonization theme -- man against a hostile environment -- or a lone gunslinger type faced with insurmountable odds. There may just be a pretty woman in peril as well. Westerns always have that lawless setting where morality and order are only thinly imposed, usually upheld only by violence and force. Mix in the horror aspects -- give the bad guys supernatural powers, populate the landscape with monsters and madness -- and you have the birth of a Western Horror.



Characteristics of Western Horror

Level of Characterization
Moderate. Involves more character development than straight Western.

Level of Plot Complexity
Varies. The more complex books in the genre often contain Supernatural subplots.

Level of Supernatural
High. The books usually either have a strong Supernatural presence or none.

Level of Scary
High level. High tension, violence, and general discomfort.

Level of Violence 
High. Some of the books reach Splatterpunk amount of gore.

Typical Setting
The books with Supernatural elements often have multiple settings in one story such as urban areas and alternate universes. Rugged terrains found in the Western genre.

Related Fantasy Sub-Genres

These books often contain either Supernatural beings or Splatterpunk levels of violence and gore.

Western Horror Isn’t For You If You Dislike

A lot of gore. Western landscapes. Supernatural beings.


    1. The Crossings, Jack Ketchum. A straight-forward Western shoot-'em-up with an extra helping of grit and violence.

    2. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy. A fourteen-year-old Tennesseean stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

    3. Dead in the West, Joe Lansdale.  An Indian medicine man, unjustly lynched by the people of Mud Creek, has put a curse on the town of Mud Creek.

    4. The Gunslinger, Stephen King. First installment of the Dark Tower series. Roland Deschain of Gilead is the Last Gunslinger. He is on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. He is pursuing the man in black.

    5. Walking Wolf: A Weird Western. Narrator Billy Skillet is a 150-year-old shapeshifter. He works as a saloon attendant, a drummer for a traveling medicine show, and a sidekick for a vampire gunslinger. 

    6. Deadman's Hand, Tim Lebbon.  Doug is a just a normal guy until comes looking for him  in the shape of a one-eyed, wounded gunfighter called Gabriel,  and Doug is drawn into his skewed world.

    7. Sex and Death in Television Town, Carlton Mellick III. A band of hermaphrodite gunslingers fight for their lives in a desert infested with crispy black demons. 

    8. Skin Medicine, Tim Curran. Bounty hunter Tyler Cabe, who is tracking a merciless murderer, must find a way to battle something beyond the imagination of living man.

    9. Deadstock, Ian Rogers.  No one knows who or what is killing the cattle at Groom ranch, but Sam Dryden, with his supernatural greenwood gun, and Raisy, with her ‘deck’ of knives, are determined to find out. What they discover is more horrifying than either of them ever dreamed.

    10. Night of the Chupacabra, Michael Hebler. Chupacabra is one man’s journey to reunite with his missing family, while the lethal creature, the chupacabra, is never far behind.


    11. The Half Made World. Chaos and Order demons fight each other on a western landscape, using bad-boy gunslinging heroes and armies of engineers.

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