In the old West, shortly before the beginning of the 20th Century, two drifters who are travelling across the land, stumble upon a Native American burial ground. As they attempt to pass through it, they are attacked, and one of the drifters is instantly killed. The other drifter escapes and heads toward the nearby town of Bright Hope; but unbeknown to him, he is being tracked by a group of cave-dwelling cannibals.
One night, shortly after the drifter arrives in Bright Hope, the cannibals descend on the town. They brutally murder a stable boy, and abduct the drifter, along with two of the local townsfolk – a doctor’s assistant and a Deputy. When the town Sheriff discovers what has happened, he and a small posse mount a rescue, leading to a gruesome and bloody thirsty showdown.
For anyone unfamiliar with Bone Tomahawk the movie is a horror Western, best described as The Searchers (1956) meets The Hills Have Eyes (1977). The film gathers together a collection of horror alumni (Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Sid Haig etc), and looks back to the past, for a story about civilisation versus savagery.
The majority of Bone Tomahawk is played out like a traditional Western, so if you were to stumble across it on television, and know nothing about the movie, you might be forgiven for thinking it is a call back to the days of John Wayne and Gary Cooper; but it is not. When it comes time to showcase its horror credentials, Bone Tomahawk really lets loose.
There is a somewhat supernatural element to the cannibal killers, who at times appear almost invulnerable (like all good monsters), and when the film decides to show blood, it makes sure the audience is suitably repulsed. In short: This isn’t your grandaddy’s Western.
The horror genre has a history of placing cannibalism on film (Cannibal Holocaust (1980), Wrong Turn (2003) etc), and is also no stranger to Westerns (From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999), Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004)), but Bone Tomahawk is the perfect blend of the two. It ticks all the boxes for those who long for the era of cowboys and sweeping vistas, but isn’t afraid to lean into the darkness when the moment arises.
Sheriff Franklin Hunt – “Pain is how your body talks to you. You’d do well to listen to it.”
Cast and crew
Bone Tomahawk is written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, produced by Jack Heller and Dallas Sonnier, and features music by Jeff Herriott and S. Craig Zahler. The cast includesKurt Russell, Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson, Lili Simmons, Richard Jenkins, Sid Haig, David Arquette, Evan Jonigkeit, and Kathryn Morris.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this spotlight post focusing on a must-see horror movie. This ‘spotlight’ on Bone Tomahawk is the final post in a series of ten posts looking at superb horror movies and shorts which you may or may not have seen.
Other posts in this series include: Suspiria (1977), The Strange Thing About the Johnsons (2011), Don’t Look Now (1973), Psycho (1960), The Omen (1976), The Blair Witch Project (1999), The ‘Burbs (1989), Lights Out (2013), and The Woman in Black (2012).
The aim of these posts is to spread some horror love around the internet, and possibly introduce you to a slice of horror that you may have overlooked. So, make sure to add this film to your next horror movie marathon.
And for more horror-related content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.