In honor of the premiere of Westworld, we look at 13 of the greatest horror/fantasy/western hybrid movies in film history
HBO’s much-hyped Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy-created series Westworld premiered tonight to almost universal critical acclaim (you can read our glowing preview here), with many calling it the new dark fantasy successor to the cable network’s Game of Thrones; an expensive, violent and erotic bauble that will be your next Sunday night addiction.
The show (whose first season reportedly cost $100 million to produce) is based on the cult 1973 Michael Crichton classic about a period-flavored fantasy theme park populated by robots that, when a glitch causes them to go haywire, kill any human that gets in their way. The scariest android of death is Yul Brenner’s gunslinger, a resident of Westworld, who locks on his average guy prey (played by Richard Benjamin) with intent to fill him full of holes. This revamped, souped-up version deepens the mythology, with a new, much more malevolent gunslinger now played by Ed Harris and the very nature of the Westworld theme park itself operating with a hidden, possibly evil agenda. The first episode is a stunner and offers – among many sanguinary and fantastical treats – another great Anthony Hopkins performance.
Westworld the film and now, this TV show, are part of a long line of fantasy entertainments that riff on the classic American western, a once sacred genre on which the very fabric of the film industry was founded upon (Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 landmark The Great Train Robbery is the first recognized narrative film). The western offers classic tropes of man battling nature, braving untapped terrain, fighting themselves and building the new on the smouldering ashes of the old. There’s a darkness at the core of the western, one that bleeds beautifully into darker, more fantastical genres like horror and science fiction. And Westworld is a hybrid of all three.
In honor of the re-birth of Westworld, we’ve cherry-picked 13 irreverent genre hybrids that exploit the western and mash them up with a sense of the fantastique. Have a look at our list and see if your fave made the cut…