I've never been a fan of the western genre, both in the literary or film media. But I was immediately drawn to this weird mix of horror and western when I read the cover blurb for Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale's Shadows West.
I didn't expect this to win any major genre awards, yet this collection of three screenplays appeared to be quite entertaining. With my curiosity piqued, I decided to give the book a shot.
Here's the blurb:
Subterranean Press is proud to present a 400+ page volume containing a trio of excursions into the very weird west—screenplays written solo by Joe R. Lansdale and in collaboration with his brother, John L. Lansdale. In addition to the classic, “Dead in the West”, two scripts make their debut in the pages of Shadows West.
Six guns and zombies, a chicken eating werewolf, deals with the devil, and things that go bump in the night. John Wayne never had to deal with these kind of shenanigans, or these kinds of rowdies. But Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale aren’t afraid, partner. They make this kind of material their everyday business. Compared to the cowpokes in their stories, John Wayne was a big sissy.
We got shoot-em-ups and bite-em-ups and blow em-ups, and the appearance of classic bad guys, like Jesse James, sent straight from hell with a bad attitude. We got a horse black as the pit and fast as the wind. We got things that won’t die even when they’re dead. There are demons and ugly people, both inside and out, giant spiders and unnecessary cursing, and one hot red-head heifer with an eye patch and a bull whip.
Who could ask for anything more.
So, for your entertainment, pilgrim, here we have it: three screenplays that venture way out west… Way, way, way out west.
The Western and the horror film will never be the same.
As mentioned, Shadows West is comprised of three screenplays: "Hell's Bounty," "Deadman's Road" and "Dead in the West." All three are fun and entertaining B-movie type of screenplays. Think about something akin to Lesbian Vampire Killers, but set in a Wild Wild West sort of environment. Not highbrow material by any stretch of the imagination, but oh so much fun to read!
In "Hell's Bounty," Smith is sent back from Hell to deal with a menace on Earth. Of course, the threat is such that the Devil sends Smith a few people to help him win the day.
In "Deadman's Road," Jubil and Terry are an unlikely duo that deals with werewolves and other supernatural problems. And now they are called upon to deal with the curse of the Pine Tree Road.
"Dead in the West" features Reverend Jedidiah Mercer, a man who has sinned and is now tested by God. Little does he know that in the little town of Mud Creek, his faith will be tested like never before.
All three screenplays are filled with witty narrative and dialogue, which will have you chuckling at every turn. Here are a few examples:
Just flat ass take off running, pushing the dead folk around like a right winger bitch slapping the Constitution.
Goddamn God hounds. Sorriest bastards ever squatted to shit over a pair of boots.
Sunrise is coming through the windows and the breaks in the door and walls, and it's lighting them up like Christians at the Coliseum on the Emperor's birthday.
Definitely not highbrow material, true. But it nonetheless makes for a fun reading experience from start to finish. The screenplay format precludes much depth, so it's all about the back and forth between the protagonists.
It's not exactly Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, yet Shadows West is an interesting hybrid of horror and western told with a humorous touch. There's never a dull moment throughout!
The final verdict: 7.5/10
For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, and Subpress