chapter  8
13 Pages

The Gothic heroine out West

A Town Called Bastard (1971)
WithLee Broughton

‘Gothic’ and ‘feminine’ are terms that we might not immediately tend to associate with the western genre for obvious reasons. Curse of the Undead is a truly original and authentically Gothic western that cleverly transposes many of the tropes associated with vampire films to an Old West setting. In terms of Gothic westerns that do not feature genuinely supernatural or monstrous elements, Italian-made spaghetti westerns tend to lead the way. The strong and active females that appear in Gothic-tinged British westerns are wholly notable because they defy the gendered rules of both the western and the Gothic tradition and they survive without being tamed or punished at their film’s end. The striking content of British Gothic western chimes with that of other British films from the early 1970s that have been judged to reflect a national crisis of masculinity prompted by public debates relating to the emergence of second-wave feminism and attendant calls for sexual equality.