The Secret of Death Valley (1906)
Article 5515 by Dave Sindelar
What it is: The first weird western?
Several men set out on an expedition to prospect for gold. When one of them hits a big stake, another man kills him off as well as the others so he can have the gold for himself. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t pay for his crime…
Here’s another title that ended up on my “ones that got away” list that has finally revealed itself. I’m glad it did; it’s in the running as possibly the earliest example of the “weird western” subgenre. The fantastic content in this case involves the wife of one the murdered men having a vision of his murder; though this is a bit on the marginal side, it is a plot point of sorts, and, for that matter, the fantastic content of many weird westerns is pretty marginal as well. Despite being only about eight and a half minutes long, the short is pretty slow to get started; gold isn’t discovered until nearly half way through the short. Still, fans of weird westerns might want to check this one out.