HBO's Westworld has made a big impression with audiences and critics. Blending the seemingly familiar with the coolly sinister, the series delves into a world where the surface and the underneath are very different, yet work in weird harmony with each other. Michael Crichton's story also shows that the West was truly wild, whether back then or in this brave new world.
However Westworld isn't an original idea, and it isn't the first time the staple of the Western genre has been subverted.
Over the years filmmakers have combined one of the fixtures of American popular culture with some unusual ingredients, in an attempt to shake things up and challenge preconceptions. From sci-fi mash ups to martial arts slapstick, those dusty plains have proved to be the broadest of canvasses.
In the interest of expanding your mind and your viewing experience of Westworld, this article counts down ten key examples where the conventions of the genre were turned on their head. Oh, and whether they were actually any good...
10. Dust Devil
Richard Stanley's serial killer thriller and mystic curio took place in modern day Namibia. Yet despite the non-American location, Dust Devil's imagery and influences are pure Western, from the cowboy hat-wearing antagonist to the parched, unforgiving landscape where it's set.
The story had its roots in a South African case about a mysterious slayer with supposed supernatural powers. Future Robocop Robert John Burke played the title monster, the personification of an ancient predator, who roved the wilderness killing strangers to satisfy his vicious temperament.
The helmer acknowledged a visual debt to Spaghetti Westerner Sergio Leone, whose cinematic vistas made the territory a star of the film. Here Stanley did the same, accentuating the exotic backdrop even further by bringing us the Dust Devil, a fictional yet powerful mythic element from its distant past, who could only exist in remote, superstitious areas where his reputation held sway.
The movie had production problems and was butchered in the editing room, yet over the years has been regarded as a minor classic.