Director James Ryan Gary attempts to make a horror, western, post-apocalyptic, supernatural hybrid with the straight-to-DVD Cowboys Vs. Zombies: Devil’s Crossing (2011). Thanks in part to Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare (a PS3 and Xbox 360 game), cowboys fighting zombies probably sounded like an awesome idea for a movie. Badass gunslingers taking aim at the undead is a great premise after all….well it worked well in the video game at least.
Unfortunately, this film kind of fails on every level. Bad acting doesn’t matter; it’s the misuse of time that is the greatest offender. The first thirty minutes are wasted on long scenes about a murderer that the protagonist is supposed to kill (I guess, it wasn’t totally clear).
This is one of those flicks where you find yourself yelling at the screen: What is happening? What time period is this? Who are these people and why do I care? Where are the damn zombies?
The setting and plot are confusing, largely due to the fact that it is very slowly revealed (long after the audience has stopped caring). Apparently, this is some sort of post-World-War-III type scenario where life has devolved back to the Old West, but with electricity, telephone poles, and screen-printed t-shirts.
Our anti-hero is Shadrach (Michael Sharpe), who has been brought back from the dead through a bargain with the devil (or one of his minions, not sure which) to hunt down evildoers. In an act of defiance Shadrach chooses not to kill one of them, and the punishment is a zombie horde released on the town of Celestial and the inhabitants of the saloon where Shadrach has been passing his time.
The filmmakers deserve credit for effort. I can tell they actually spent a little time trying to come up with cool ideas for shots. The problem is that the interesting camera effects are excessively overused, and way too many close-ups make you struggle to see what is happening. There is some good backlighting for the saloon action sequences, but the majority of the zombie scenes are dark, so it’s hard to get a good look at the undead. The ones you can make out look like they all came from a pantomime and/or blackface theater production, with all-black outfits and faces covered in grease-style make-up. What you can clearly make out is the CG blood splatter every time someone manages to get a headshot. For low-budget horror you really need crazy gore to make up for all the films’ shortcomings, and this sadly fails at that too; there’s some blood, but that’s pretty much it. Shadrach has some good zombie-bashing moves, including a few with a sword (always a plus), but it’s too little too late by that point.
The fact that is was pretty much impossible for us to get screenshots with the zombies in when writing this review should tell you all you need to know – they are hardly in the movie at all, and when they are they are being obscured by unhelpful camera angles, or are barely visible due to the excessive darkness of the scenes.
At least two other cowboy-zombie movies actually exist, The Dead and the Damned aka Cowboys & Zombies (2011) and Cowboy Zombies (2013). Although they all share the common bond of low budget and bad acting, the other two made a real effort to combine the western and horror genres, have good gore, and lack terrible CG blood splatter. These are both better than Cowboys Vs. Zombies, so there aren’t really many reasons that we can give you for spending your time watching this one.
Watch ‘Cowboys Vs Zombies: The Devil’s Crossing’ below:
|Get the film at Amazon.com|
|Get the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Danielle Beauchea