Kevin Jarre based “Tombstone” on historical events and real people, even if, in true Western tradition, they were exaggerated for the sake of storytelling. In contrast, the premise of “Bone Tomahawk” is ripped straight out of a pulp magazine (including some controversial themes that date back to that era), combining Western elements with horror and “weird fiction.” Russell points out, however, that the film’s dialogue sounds remarkably natural, explaining that a movie about cannibalistic cave-dwelling mutants ironically portrays less of an exaggerated take on late nineteenth-century speech patterns than a classic John Wayne Western:
“I love ‘The Searchers.’ I think it’s a cool movie. But the dialogue style? No way. It can’t compare to ‘Bone Tomahawk’ or something like ‘Tombstone.’ This is much more of that true flavor. This makes you feel that this could actually be some weird little town in 1897 that is just out there where nobody knows where everything really is. The people talked this way. I believe that. I don’t think this is a Hollywood western dialogue movie. This has a style to it. It lends itself much more to the credibility of reality than almost all westerns. It doesn’t have a modern day sound to it.”
Although the plot of “Tombstone” is much more grounded in reality, Russell seemed attracted to the way both films used their dialogue to humanize their characters. Westerns are known for mythologizing historical figures, but “Tombstone” and “Bone Tomahawk” brings the Western down to sandy earth, even if they both still embrace extravagance in the end. The former aims for an intimate portrayal of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, the latter wants its heroes to feel like ordinary men before the creatures come for their meat.