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Oct 22, 201211:07 AMThe Telegraph

The Premier Blog of the West

Off The Beaten Trail: A Western For Halloween

Oct 22, 2012 - 11:07 AM

Halloween has evolved into a monthlong celebration of the macabre, with October now the only month where you can use the word “spook-tacular” in everyday conversation.

For western fans feeling left out of the horror film marathons running on most cable movie channels, there are a few options that combine the western and horror genres, but not always with the best results. Sure, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula sounds intriguing, but the movie never lives up to that camp-classic title.

Curse of the Undead (1959), however, is a different story. The film has solid western bona fides — Eric Fleming from Rawhide is top-billed, and the cast includes Michael Pate (Hondo), Kathleen Crowley (a frequent guest star on Maverick and Bonanza) and John Hoyt (a familiar character actor who also spent a lot of time in the saddle during the golden age of TV westerns).

But here, instead of stagecoach bandits or rustlers, the conflict is between Fleming, the preacher in a small cattle town, and Pate, a gunslinging vampire.

With that plot description, you already know if you’re in or out on this one. For those that take the chance, I think you’ll have a great time. The mixing of western and gothic horror clichés results in a strange but intriguing hybrid that makes its 79 minutes fly by.

Of course, we all know vampires can only be dispatched by a wooden stake or holy water, and since Fleming plays a man of the cloth, you’d assume he would opt for the latter. But no western worth its spurs should ever end with the hero pouring water on the villain. Fortunately, Curse of the Undead comes up with a variation on the standard vampire-killing arsenal, with a supernatural showdown that’s as clever as it is unexpected.

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