Remember that zombie Western movie Wesley Snipes was working on while he was being convicted of tax fraud? No? Oh, this is kind of awkward then – but I don’t blame you. Gallowwalkers was being filmed way back when in 2006, and almost suffered a huge setback when Wesley Snipes flew back to Orlando and turned himself in for his tax-dodging methods, but luckily the star was released on bail for $1 million and was allowed to finish Andrew Goth’s film. Hooray? Eh, not really. There’s a reason this film was sitting around for such a long time, and I can assure you it wasn’t because of Wesley Snipes.
Gallowwalkers tells the tale of a “cursed gunman” named Aman (Wesley Snipes), a man who has to fight an undead gang of victims he’d killed once before. Bringing along a criminal companion named Fabulos (Riley Smith) as a partner, these two outlaws go about the desert hunting zombies that Aman accidentally created, hoping to save a few lives in the process. Oh, and the undead bastards have to skin people and assume their form, otherwise their muscly outer layer gets dried out like some leftover beef jerky – not a particularly nice look if I do say so myself.
Unfortunately, Gallowwalkers is about as dried out as that frail, weak, sun-beaten jerky, looking decently palatable on the surface – until you bite in and feel the contents just disintegrate in your mouth. When you bite into jerky you want something meaty and hearty to chew on, providing an experience that’s close to chewing on a meaty gum product, and this can also be said for a proper cinematic story. Not the chewing bit, as I’d hardly suggest biting into a paper script (or computer screen for that matter), but we want a story that’s meaty enough to chew on – in other words, substantial enough to enjoy.
In that sense, Gallowwalkers is a bit silly and underdeveloped, creating a western zombie hybrid not many films have attempted, such as Undead Or Alive. Then again, they aren’t exactly straight zombies, because of the way they’re coherent and whatnot – more like undead demons I’d say. This is where things get hazy though, as the whole backstory as to why Aman has to kill, why he does it, and what will happen if he doesn’t isn’t particularly noteworthy. There’s a whole mythical story with a girl being raped and bearing a child, the voodoo of the undead, and why hell’s minions just won’t stay down for good – but it gets lost and jumbled along the way. I mean, undead Wesley Snipes wielding six-shooters and blasting monsters – there’s your plot.
As for Wesley, he’s still an undeniable badass. Covered head to toe in red and black leather, sporting a beard with a ghostly white strip, Aman is a vicious “bounty hunter,” or whatever you want to call him, with as much old-school demeanor as previous Western duelers. Sure, it’s laughable seeing Aman standing upon a rocky mountain, pulling off precision shots with his pistol and hitting targets hundreds of yards away on the ground, but it’s a horror inspired Western, and he’s cursed, so isn’t anything possible?
There are definitely enjoyable parts of fun action, while Snipes never breaks his cowboy character, and he phenomenally looks the part of a death-dealing drifter – but that doesn’t carry a film alone. The rest of the characters are pretty cardboard, some are completely useless, most serve no purpose, and even the villains are nothing but ridiculous caricatures – and that’s comparing them to other undead baddies! We rely too heavily on Snipes saving every single part of this film, which is a task entirely too mighty for Wes.
As far as horror gore goes, Goth makes a bloody film full of decapitations and gunshot wounds, so the action actually isn’t half bad. Sure, most of the fights are made up of slow-motion close-ups on itchy trigger-fingers fidgeting above gun holsters followed by lightning quick shoot-outs, but these moments draw from real Western classics, and they translate to the horror elements rather well. Just think back to any hokey ghost town shootout, and just pretend all the cowboys are undead – that’s Gallowwalkers.
Even with fun moments of rootin-tootin fighting, Gallowwalker‘s release is about as exciting as watching a tumbleweed blow across a dirt road, despite the fact that Wesley Snipes does his best vigilante cowboy/zombie killer impression. Plenty of shots are fired, but most of them are blanks, as Andrew Goth fails to create anything uniquely memorable by mixing Western classics with his version of modern day zombies. Go ahead, give it a try, but you’ll find the novelty of this strange period piece wearing off far faster than you’ll want to admit.
Much like the undead beings Snipes is hunting, Gallowwalkers just won't stop - no matter how much you wish it would.