The Wolves of the Badlands

A tale of horror in the Old West

by Kevin Rush

I’ve always loved westerns, ever since I was a small boy playing cowboys and Indians. The Long Ranger was one of my earliest TV heroes. I still love the saga of the frontier, of brave men battling an untamed country, savage enemies and themselves to carve out a life of freedom. The saga of the Old West is a metaphor for our national journey as well as each individual’s inner struggle for integrity in the face of temptation.

The Western is a beautiful entertainment form because it lays bare the human soul and forces us to accept that moral choices must be made. Perhaps because it is so elemental, it is also a flexible form that can be married to others. Witness Westerns as action-adventures, melodramas, histories, revisionist histories, tragedies, comedies and musicals. There are tales of epic quests, desolate isolation, damned perdition and sweet redemption. There are heroes archetypal, reluctant, ethereal and illusory, villains irredeemable and roguish.

This tale, Los Lobos del Malpaís, is a horror story. It features what is probably the favorite monster of my youth. I wrote it originally as a film treatment, because I thought it would make a fun popcorn-muncher. Unfortunately, Roger Corman is no longer with us, and B-movies are now made with A-List stars and $100 million budgets, meaning there are fewer a fewer all the time. Like the Old West itself, Hollywood is vanishing before our eyes. The price of progress I suppose. Fortunately, we’ll always have John Wayne on celluloid. A good thing, too, since there will never be another.

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