31 Days of Horror – ‘Bone Tomahawk’ (2015)

Kurt Russell (and the greatest screen 'stache ever) fuel horror hybrid

The western has its fair share of violence, and some of it can be grisly.

S. Craig Zahler’s “Bone Tomahawk” ran with that concept in ways no one saw coming in 2015. His directorial debut takes a nasty turn in the third act, warranting its inclusion in the horror movie club.

And then some.


Kurt Russell stars as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, a decent man who risks everything to save three innocents abducted by a cannibalistic clan. The “Fast and Furious” star is joined by Richard Jenkins, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox, and boy, do our heroes face a near-impossible rescue mission.

The film’s villains are relentless in their savagery, which warrants the oater’s transformation in its pivotal moments.

“Bone Tomahawk” requires a strong stomach, but everyone will enjoy Zahler’s sharp-tongued dialogue. The talented auteur honors the western mythos with lines that feel both rooted in the past and oddly fresh.

This is no trip down memory lane. Instead, it’s a brutal re-imagining of the Wild West that gave the film instant cult status. “Bone Tomahawk” even earned a “Carnage Count” from a YouTube account specializing in gore.

Bone Tomahawk Movie Clip "Troglodytes"

The New York Times praised the film, calling it a “witty fusion of western, horror and comedy that gallops to its own beat.”

Zahler, who co-composed the film’s score, told that his film attempted to embrace classic western tropes while adding a layer of gore unseen during the film genre’s early years.

He told Filmmaker magazine that the inspiration for “Bone Tomahawk” came straight from the horror genre – micro-indie horror, to be exact.

I was watching a lot of independent, micro-budget horror movies — things that cost $5,000 and are made in your mother’s basement. Really, really small things. It’s shot on video. It’s cheap. Some of the acting doesn’t work. But it’s really independently-minded and it’s the personal and singular vision of the filmmakers. I was watching a lot of that and I decided I was going to make one. At that point I’d sold enough screenplays and was doing well enough financially that I was just going to make like a $50,000 indie horror movie that was going to be uncommonly violent.”

He’s still a western fan at heart, though, and his cinematic favorites are “The Wild Bunch” and “Once Upon a Time in the West.”

31 Days of Horror:


  1. I agree with brando; the cast is definitely great but this descends into torture porn near the end. Though only for one or two scenes, it’s still really hard to watch, and I’m not sure what the draw is at that point. Also, the name of the movie is cool but not particularly meaningful. There’s a bone tomahawk in the movie, but it might as well have been named “Colt Peacemaker” or “Arrows” or whatever.

  2. terrible movie IMO. Great cast. I don’t know how anyone can sit through the “violence”. It is more like pornographic violence, that will scar you for life.

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