Web Animation / The Backwater Gospel

"The Undertaker's comin'..."

For as long as anyone can remember, the coming of the undertaker has meant the coming of death.

The Backwater Gospel is a short film, published on YouTube, about a small town called Backwater that is in a bit of a predicament. Namely, whenever the local Undertaker bicycles into town, someone dies the same day. And not before he comes into town, either.

One day, however, the Undertaker comes to town... and no-one dies. Not one person. The Undertaker simply sits on a bench and watches the townsfolk. The fear and uncertainty as to who will finally die sweeps across the town, and it's only a matter of time before someone snaps...

It can be watched online.


  • All of the Other Reindeer: Not that the Tramp seems to mind.
  • Angry Mob
  • Animal Motifs: The Undertaker is associated with crows. They flock around him as he rides his bike, roost above and around him and the Undertaker has large black wings like theirs that that can be seen occasionally and in his shadow.
    • He is also compared to a vulture in the ending song, and his crooked nose is reminiscent of a vulture's beak. Naturally both of those birds are carrion-eating.
  • Badass Preacher: The preacher keeps a gun hidden in that Bible of his. And he's a pretty good shot.
  • Battle in the Rain: The entire town engages in one after they stone the Tramp to death.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Everyone has these except the Tramp right before he dies and Bubba when he becomes horrified with himself for killing him.
  • Book Safe: See Badass Preacher.
  • The Brute: Bubba.
  • Crapsack World: Backwater is a terribly blighted little burg in the middle of nowhere, presumably during The Great Depression.
  • Creepy Crows: They signify the coming of the Undertaker.
  • Creepy Mortician: The Undertaker, to the extent that he's believed to bring death whenever he appears. And he does. But not directly.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: In the first scene of the film, when The Undertaker approaches.
  • Desert Skull: Seen when the Undertaker approaches the town.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The Undertaker embodies this trope. He doesn't even flinch as the people of Backwater all kill each other... though, naturally, this was because he saw it coming.
  • The Dragon: Bubba, to the Preacher.
  • The Dreaded: The Undertaker
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Except it's not. It just makes the Undertaker creepier.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: The Undertaker can pull this off in broad daylight!
  • The Fundamentalist: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
  • Foil: The Tramp is this to the Minister. The Tramp is generally easygoing and makes the best of what he's got. The Minister is malicious and strives for power
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Undertaker and the whole town during the final massacre.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: the Undertaker has raven-black feathered wings, which is fitting for a mystical figure with a connection to death.
  • He Who Must Not Be Heard: The Undertaker never says a single word in the entire film.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: The Tramp's singing isn't very good.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Undertaker seems to be the human embodiment of death. Though he doesn't personally kill anyone himself, he's shown to have dark wings when the image flashes across the screen, or when you look at his shadow. Plus, he's clearly able to predict deaths as, even when the guitarist is killed, he does nothing. It's only when everyone in the town is dead that he gets to work measuring them for coffins. Yikes.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Essentially the outcome of the Tramp's death once the townsfolk realize the Undertaker didn't come for him.
  • Hypocrite: The Preacher is not what one would call a paragon of holiness. Lampshaded:
    Preacher: Submit to the Lord!
    Tramp: Pfft. Why don't you try it?
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The Undertaker whistles a song that first sounds like "Itsy Bitsy Spider", but turns out to be the song that the Tramp was singing.
  • Jump Scare: Certain... disturbing images that flash across the screen at times, accompanied by jarring sounds. Most notably, the Undertaker's usually invisible black wings.
  • Karmic Death: The Minister is killed by his own dragon, via getting his head crushed by a crucifix.
  • Kill 'em All: The townspeople of Backwater kill each other until the only survivor is the Undertaker who idly sat and watched.
  • Manipulative Bastard: the Minister, full-stop. He figures out a way to turn the Undertaker's arrival to his advantage by siccing the population on the Tramp, figuring that he can kill two birds in one stone - get the Undertaker to leave, having gotten the death he had come for, and at the same time to be rid of his annoying rival. Unfortunately for him, he did not foresee that, if the Undertaker's coming means an incoming death, his early coming may mean a lot of deaths...
  • Messianic Archetype: the way the Tramp is killed is not without Jesus parallels. Notice how he lies sprawled on the ground, his limbs forming a cross?
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The townspeople get this twice: once at the beginning when they hear the Undertaker is coming, and near the end when after killing the Tramp, the Undertaker continues to to sit and wait.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Well, it ain't gonna be me!"
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After killing the Tramp and seeing he wasn't who the Undertaker wanted, Bubba looks to the heavens and utters "Oh God, no." While it may be an Oh Crap!, Bubba loses his Black Eyes of Evil and later recognizes the Preacher as the cause of the town's suffering.
  • Nice Hat: The Undertaker wears a black top hat.
  • No Name Given: Nobody except Bubba gets a name.
  • Paint the Town Red: The art style makes it look black.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: if the Undertaker comes to town, at least someone will die. Sooner or later.
  • Psychopomp: this is probably what The Undertaker is. He is not The Grim Reaper, as he is not the bringer of death himself. Presumably, his role is to allow the souls of the dead to pass on to the next life.
    His presence foretells both blood and death / Yet he shoulders not the blame
  • Real Is Brown: Until it rains...
  • Rule of Symbolism: The Tramp's body lays spread-eagled in a manner similar to the Crucifixion. Also notable is the fact that not a drop of blood from the massacre touched him, creating a ring of clean ground around his body.
  • The Scapegoat: The townspeople blame the Tramp for causing the Undertaker to come to town.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: The Undertaker wears them and they never stop shining!
  • The Shadow Knows: The Undertaker's shadow has huge dark wings that spread out around him.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The townsfolk are terrified of death when the Undertaker arrives. Their fear of death and desperation to survive causes them all to murder each other. In other words, the deaths the Undertaker prophesied are caused by his appearance.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: No points for guessing which end of the spectrum this is on. Even the camera is dirty.
  • Sinister Minister: The Preacher, who graduates from complaining about the Tramp to commanding the townsfolk to stone him to death.
  • Twisting the Words: A brilliant corruption of the famous Jesus quote "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone". In context, it is an appeal to peace, with the implication being that no one is without sin. The Preacher instead uses it as an attack order: "if you are sinless, kill the Tramp".
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Somewhat justified, since it is the desert, after all.
  • Wingding Eyes: Visible during the Battle in the Rain. They don't make anything more comical,though.
  • Winged Humanoid: The Undertaker, though his wings are typically invisible.