Bone Tomahawk (2015)

The troglodytes are not nice!
The troglodytes are not nice!

Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) leads a small posse into a desolate region to rescue some people who have been abducted by a cannibalistic clan of troglodytes.

Poster
Poster

I like horror westerns, such as DEAD BIRDS, RAVENOUS and THE BURROWERS, and this one is a really good example of the sub-genre.

First of all, this film stars Kurt Russell, who is always worth watching, and it has good characterisations, with Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins and Matthew Fox shining in their roles. Fox’s character, for instance, could’ve come across as quite unlikeable, but much of what he does and says is practical and is actually the right thing to do.

Kurt Russell with epic moustache
Kurt Russell with epic moustache
Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox
A closer look at Russell's very manly facial hair
A closer look at Russell’s very manly facial hair
Skulls
Skulls…

A large chunk of the running time focuses on the leads trekking across the desert, and I think these scenes work well, driving home how dangerous and arduous such an undertaking like that would actually be.

Dutch artwork
Dutch artwork
The action is brutal
The action is brutal

With Sid (SPIDER BABY) Haig in a cameo role, well-written dialogue throughout and Kurt Russell sporting a truly awesome moustache, this film also boasts some very disturbing, monstrous antagonists…

Sid Haig
Sid Haig
A nice lookin' poster
A nice lookin’ poster

The cave-dwelling tribe of cannibals featured in this movie are a truly nasty group of cinematic bad guys: they are covered in dry mud, have weird throat pipes that produce an eerie wail and they are utterly pitiless. The violent action at the end of this movie is jaw-droppingly savage, especially the scene where they scalp and upend a character, then start hacking him between the legs, bisecting him! This is something you don’t easily forget!

Scalped
Scalped
Check out the bone throat pipes...
Cutting around the bone throat pipes…
...and pulling them out of the neck to inspect
…and pulling them out of a troglodyte’s neck to inspect
These guys are nasty!
These guys are nasty!
Sheriff Hunt has his belly sliced into...
Sheriff Hunt has his belly sliced open…
...and then a savage rams a red-hot metal hip flask into his wound. Ouch!
…and then one of the savages rams a red-hot metal hip flask into his wound. Ouch!

BONE TOMAHAWK was S. Craig Zahler’s directorial debut and he’s gone on to write and direct two other gritty, violent movies I like a lot: BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 and DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE.

Savage headgear
Savage headgear
Skirmish!
Skirmish!
Things get barbaric in the third act
Things get barbaric in the third act
A cannibal inspects a rifle
A cannibal inspects a rifle
Region 2 DVD cover
Region 2 DVD cover

Here’s Mauricio Ruiz’s concept design for the look of the troglodytes…

The troglodytes were eventually portrayed in the film with a different look compared to this design
The troglodytes were eventually portrayed in the film with a different look compared to this design

2 thoughts on “Bone Tomahawk (2015)

  1. Memorable and highly original weird-Western, with some powerful performances by a solid cast of seasoned pros. Everyone who’s seen it will cite the obvious brain-searing visual moment, but the long narrative maintains creepy tensions and never lets you get comfortable or confident that you know what’s coming next. Director Craig Zahler skillfully crafted his script.

    A personally significant film for me since the UPM on the shoot was my friend and sometime colleague Jon D. Wagner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zahler crafted some fine dialogue and characters – and added creepy touches to the plot like those eerie-sounding bone throat pipes. Hey, that’s cool your friend was the line producer/exec producer!

      Like

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