What Is a Western? Interview Series: Desert Terror

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Topics: Imagined Wests

a man screams while holding gun

Autry curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Brad Sykes, author of Terror in the Desert: Dark Cinema of the American Southwest, about the genre of Western horror and its use of the desert landscape.

What Is a Western? Interview Series: Desert Terror

Learn More

To Read

Brad Sykes’s Terror in the Desert: Dark Cinema of the American Southwest (2018)

To Watch

The Sadist (1963) - Based on an actual killing spree, this is the original “desert terror” movie and still one of the best.

Duel (1971) - Steven Spielberg’s first feature is the ultimate road rage thriller.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) - Horror-master Wes Craven’s tale of a nice American family vs. an inbred clan of cannibals.

The Hitcher (1986) - Hitchhiking horror doesn’t get any scarier than this.

Near Dark (1987) - The best vampire Western ever made.

White of the Eye (1988) - A brilliant psychological thriller about madness lurking within an average Arizona family.

Silent Tongue (1993) - Sam Shepard's spooky film is part Native American ghost story, part history lesson, and all terrifying.

Breakdown (1997) - The best road thriller since Duel, with Kurt Russell versus a malevolent trucker.

U-Turn (1997) - Oliver Stone's jet-black comedy is every stranded traveler's worst nightmare.

The Canyon (2009) - Survival horror in the Grand Canyon, featuring a strong lead performance by Yvonne Strahovski.

Land Acknowledgment

The Autry Museum of American West acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). We recognize that the Autry Museum and its campuses are located on the traditional lands of Gabrielino/Tongva peoples and we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

The Autry Museum in Griffith Park

4700 Western Heritage Way

Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462
Located northeast of downtown, across from the Los Angeles Zoo.
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