In Undead in the West: Vampires, Zombies, Mummies, and Ghosts on the Cinematic Frontier, Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper have assembled a collection of essays that explore the many tropes and themes through which undead Westerns make the genre’s inner plagues and demons visible, and lay siege to a frontier tied to myths of strength, ingenuity, freedom, and independence. The volume is divided into three sections: “Reanimating Classic Western Tropes” examines traditional Western characters, symbolism, and plot devices and how they are given new life in undead Westerns; “The Moral Order Under Siege” explores the ways in which the undead confront classic values and morality tales embodied in Western films; and “And Hell Followed with Him” looks at justice, retribution, and retaliation at the hands of undead angels and avenger.
The subjects explored here run the gamut from such B films as Curse of the Undead and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula to A-list features like From Dusk ‘til Dawn and Jonah Hex, as well as animated films (Rango) and television programs (The Walking Dead and Supernatural). Other films discussed include Sam Raimi’s Bubba Ho-Tep, John Carpenter’s Vampires, George Romero’s Land of the Dead, and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West. Featuring several illustrations and a filmography, Undead in the West will appeal to film scholars, especially those interested in hybrid genres, as well as fans of the Western and the supernatural in cinema.