Weird, Weird West: 10 Essential Cult Westerns

Westerns are one of the broadest and oldest genres in cinematic history, and their famous images can sometimes paint a rigid, predictable picture in people’s minds. But, let’s be honest, the genre has produced some of the weirdest and most revolutionary films to grace the silver screen. Although, not all films were well received upon release, over time, despite being persecuted by critics, the film has found a loyal audience.

If you want a better understanding of the history of cinema, check out our list of ten essential Western films, big and small. (Or if you really like good movies.)

the land of Chato

1972’s Chato’s Land kicked off a long and fruitful collaboration between hardcore screen icon Charles Bronson and eccentric director Michael Winner. Bronson’s name, Chato, is an Apache who has been harassed for murder. But this is a gang of murderers and reluctant accomplices gathered by former Confederate soldiers obsessed with Jack Palance’s glory to commit more heinous crimes. many in the name of justice.

From there, the film transitions from a Western moral drama to a prototypical film as Chato picks them up one by one. Many also point to the sharp contrast between the story and Vietnamese revisionist horror films, which will no longer be viewed in large numbers for another decade.

great silence

Sergio Corbucci’s dismal Western Spaghetti is remembered in popular culture for its nihilistic ending or its impact on the genre as a whole. You’re sure to see a lot of this in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, and you’ll find it in their co-creator, the infamous Ennio. You can hear more of these elements in Ennio Morricone’s score.

As was customary for Italian films of the time, the audio was fully dubbed, so you could choose to watch in Italian or English. Jean-Louis Trintignant’s major performances as the famous gunman — who, as you might infer, doesn’t say anyway — and Klaus Kinski Kinski’s memorable villains are both enhanced. Thanks to the style, this brings together two unique actors in a very unconventional style.

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el topology

el topology

1970s Western-influenced Alejandro Jodorowsky, often considered the first “midnight movie” ever, has become a living legend to this day. film. Much of the content revolves around Jodorowski’s deliberately hysterical statements in promoting the film, statements that have become almost mythical over time. There’s even a scene where Jodorowsky personally kills hundreds of baby bunnies with a fork, just for one scene.

Like much of Jodorowski’s work, El Topo blends religious symbolism and blatantly provocative shock value, which is largely explainable. Critic Pauline Kael’s review led to the birth of the term “acid west” and you can feel El Topo in the subsequent films, which would make the term a universal term. true subtype.


Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 “Dead West” is considered by some to be the culmination of the “acid West” tradition started by El Topo. Like many of Jarmusch’s films, it features an impressive cast of mini-episodes interspersed with disjointed stories. But it’s mostly made up of Gary Ford’s quirky pair of lonely Native Americans — named “Nobody” — and Johnny Depp’s shy city boy, who are thrust into the life of a villain. Live outlaws.

Shot in full monochrome and scored by American folk rock legend Neil Young with an electric guitar, Dead Man is definitely an excursion like no other. Obviously inspired many great Westerners over the next few decades.


Antonia Bird was not originally chosen to direct this wacky horror western. However, a few weeks into filming, she found herself in the director’s chair after friction with the producers resulted in the original director being abruptly replaced by studio head Raja Gosnell, with the cast The actor seems to reject her in favor of her.

Bird insists that this familiar Hollywood backstabbing experience will make her understand Ted Griffin’s script about cannibalism in the Sierra Nevada, even though Bird herself eventually feels betrayed by the producers from refuse. “Greed” is as weird as a major studio movie can be. Quality is evident in the quaint soundtrack by composer Michael Nyman and Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn.

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Alex Cox’s 1987 biopic about William Walker’s disastrous obstruction of Nicaragua – and its brief takeover – begins as a semi-proper, if left-wing, period producer Hollywood prestige with conflicting Scores by head Joe Strummer and a screenplay by Pat Garret and Billy the Kid writer Rudy Wurlitzer. But it gradually evolved into a satire of 20th-century American foreign policy, stripped of all contrived metaphors and historical accuracy.

It was attacked from all sides at the time, and its commercial failure is tied to Cox’s subsequent exile from Hollywood, though, in modern terms, the reaction to the work Walker’s rare on-screen satire on American history is more like blacklisting. However, its stubborn weirdness and unflinching politics have made it long-lived and earned more appreciation over the years.

hot saddle

Little Cleavon riding a horse in a sheriff's uniform and smiling with a flaming Saddle on

Mel Brooks’ beloved comedy is undoubtedly his greatest work and a perfect example of a more popular but equally profound satirical version of the media’s depiction of history. American history. could market to a wider audience than a movie like this walker.

Considering how iconic Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder have landed the lead roles as Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid, it’s odd to think that neither actor was Brooks’ first choice. The original Waco Kid Gig Young fell apart on the first day of shooting, with studio execs refusing to secure the role of Bart for the film’s co-writer Richard Pryor. To this day, its existence still feels a bit magical.

The three tombs of Melquíades Estrada

Actor Tommy Lee Jones makes his directorial debut with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Strange, Dark, Comedy and Les Miserable Journeys. Tommy Lee Jones’ Texas rancher seeks revenge after his friend, Melquiades Estrada, was killed by Barry Pepper) of the Border Patrol Agents, unjustly murdered.

Today’s release of “Three Burials” will almost certainly be hunted by a wave of professional outraged internet and media pundits, who will call it “politically outrageous” and “biased” against real Americans.” Jones’ relatively pessimistic approach to women and the West in his second film, Otaku, is similarly impressive.

riding on high

Sam Peckinpah is a rogue force in American cinema, and his own Western work is considered a fundamental element of many of the films on this list. His image was so subversive and explosive that it ended up in Ride the Heights, his most casual-looking Western film to date, and ultimately becoming a fan favorite. His favorite and classic work.

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In many ways a humble film, “Riding the Highlands” contains Peckinpah’s fascination with lust, greed, and violence. They only appear more quietly and subtly alongside themes that would later become hallmarks of Peckinpah’s more recognizable films, such as moral compromise, the death of the West. and the concept of male honor.

johnny guitar

Nicholas Ray’s female-directed Westerns are possibly the filmmakers’ favorites of the second half of the 20th century and beyond. It received instant acclaim from budding French New Wave directors, but was panned by critics when it was first released in the United States. Martin Scorsese later rated Johnny Guitar as “an example of a small movie that has grown to become a classic” and added that in the US, “people don’t know what to do so they either ignore it” Or laugh to death.” I’m gone.”

This was Ray’s first color film, and his use of vivid color – familiar to fans of his most popular film the following year, Rebel Without a Cause – made it a hit. a powerful and unforgettable experience to this day. It was an experience that could comfortably be called eternal.

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