10 Most Violent Westerns Ever Made

Fancy your Western movie with a side of disembowelment, exploding skulls and scalping?

Bone Tomahawk Kurt Russell
RLJ Entertainment

Violence and Westerns - they go hand in hand don’t they?

Westerns show off the American Wild West in all its gun swinging, wheat chewing, horse rearing glory. Whether the Italians are coming in to add their own spice in Spaghetti Westerns or old time classic directors are showing the depths of the dark badlands, the genre has proved that it’s more than simple fun (though it is that too lots of the time).

Of course, Westerns have always lent themselves to being super brutal, but the films on this list have really taken things to the next level. While gunfights and the tension of a pistol shootout are fun, sometimes movies go that one step further. These films feature depraved, brutal acts of violence, bleak journeys and a harrowing look at both the human condition and the Wild Wild West. They span 60+ years of cinema and show that no matter what changes in the world, the public will always have an appetite for violence. The films won’t just put you off your dinner for a while but they’ll shock you in ways you didn’t expect.

If you think you’ve got the stomach to handle them, be our guest and continue on…

10. Mannaja (1977)

Mannaja, otherwise known as The Man Called Blade, came out at the tail end of Italy’s Spaghetti Western era. Directed by Sergio Martino, the 1977 film is extremely violent.

The story centres around Blade, the snide, cold bounty hunter arriving in town, aiming to settle some past scores along the way. He’s enlisted to track down the daughter of the town’s mayor before quickly becoming embroiled in ulterior schemes as well as his own past feuds. It starts off with a man losing his hand to a tomahawk... then it finds a way to become even better.

Violence is key to Mannaja and our tomahawk wielding hero provides the film with ample opportunity for nastiness. There are some brutal moments and excellent gunfights all across this film but the best part is seeing how quick Blade is with his weapon. Equally as happy to throw his hatchet as shoot his gun, Blade’s skills are blended with Martino’s own artistic directorial style to show violence.

Although Mannaja is often compared to Castellari’s Keoma (which was released just one year before), the film is often cited as one of the last great Spaghetti Westerns. Fighting through a genre that had become laden with parody, this film is stylish and a great send off to a well loved era of cinema.

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An encyclopedia on European cinema, hardcore music and Lana Del Rey.