Bone Sickness (2004)

Starring Kevin Barbare, Griff Brohman, Brian DeClercq, Rich George

Directed by Brian Paulin

Here we are at the tail end of 2004, and I’ve got to say that as a horror fan I am mucho disappointed. We were promised lots but delivered little. Except for a few films like The Grudge, Saw, and Shaun of the Dead, the year has been a snoozer for the genre. I was ready to pack up the Creepy Mobile™ and head on back to Monster Island to await 2005’s offerings. Then it came across my desk. A film I hadn’t even heard of. A zombie opus named Bone Sickness. I figured, “What the hell? I ain’t got nothin’ to lose!” and popped it in the DVD player. Thus began a very unexpected journey.

We start off simply enough with a graveyard scene reminiscent of the opening of Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. It was all there: the spooky cemetery complete with fog, the nosy caretaker making his rounds, and a none-too-friendly guy with an axe. With one foul swoop our friendly neighborhood axe-wielding maniac had christened the screen with its first geyser of blood, and it was only a couple of minutes into the film! I squealed! I giggled! I thought to myself, “Finally some real gore! Might I actually be in store for a film with some balls? Where did this film come from and why haven’t I heard of it?” Unbeknownst to me, the best was yet to come.

Enter our heroine and her husband who is terminally ill, suffering from a degenerative bone disease. She’s sympathetic and highly stressed. It seems the good doctors of the world haven’t given her hubby much of a chance so she turns to his best friend, and together they implement a new type of alternative medicine — feeding him the remains of corpses. Hey, why not, right?! Little do they know that this “medicine” would have a rather interesting side effect, that being the dead are now returning to life to reclaim their missing bits among other things! And you thought the side effects of Viagra were bad! (Not that I’d know anything about that of course.) Anyway, that’s about as deep and complex as the story gets, and that’s okay. After all, some of the films in the zombie genre that we love the most have even skimpier story lines.

Aside from the aforementioned Shaun, it was beginning to seem as if the golden age of the zombie film had passed us by. Zombies now run at light speed, and instead of physical effects, we’ve essentially been treated to a LOT of CG effects to make our dearly departed look gruesome. Where are the dry shambling, falling apart messes that haunted the classics of the late 70’s and early 80’s? Gone, but apparently not forgotten! Especially by filmmaker Brian Paulin. Thanks to the hard work of Paulin and his crew, they are very much “alive.”

Watching Bone Sickness is like reading a love letter to those ghastly greats. With violence close to on par with any of Fulci’s finest that I have seen recently, Paulin pulls off a very meritable feat – delivering a well enough acted (or badly enough acted, depending on your point of view) splatter fest with absolutely no compromise and as unapologetically as possible. Bodies are torn, pulled, eaten, shot, impaled, beheaded, chewed up, shit out (no lie), set on fire, you name it! It’s all here right down to the goriest of details. It was refreshing to say the least and about damned time.

Paulin and company are hardcore horror fans. It shows in every frame of Bone Sickness. They use the medium of film to celebrate the genre that they hold so dear to their black little hearts! With filmmakers like them out there, I can honestly say that despite an entire year’s worth of disappointments, the genre is in very good, very blood-soaked hands. Now if only someone would give these guys a real budget to work with!

5 out of 5 if only for the amount of sheer violence

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.