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Bone Eater (DVD)

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Bone Eater DVD review (click for larger image)Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Bruce Boxleitner, Clara Bryant, Michael Horse, Gil Gerard, Adoni Maropis, Jennifer Lee Wiggins, Walter Koenig, William Katt, Veronica Hamel

Directed by Bob Robertson (AKA Jim Wynorski)

Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment


Let there be no doubt that the Bone Eater is one of the daffiest looking movie monsters to come along in recent memory. An unholy amalgamation of some evil renegade warriors inadvertently unearthed by a greedy land developer excavating sacred Indian land, this bony monstrosity looks like something the monster D’Compose would have conjured up on the late 1980’s “Inhumanoids” cartoon. Although, given that it can conjure up an equally skeletal spectral horse composed of dust and bones, which it rides while Old Western movie musical riffs play on the soundtrack, perhaps the Bone Eater would have been more at home on the “Bravestarr” cartoon instead. The Bone Eater could very well be the goofiest looking movie monster meant to be taken seriously to come along since the demonic Porky Pig demon from Pinata: Survival Island.

This Bone Eater is pretty much a one-trick pony. Well, a three-trick pony to be more accurate. Merely being touched by it or its bone sword causes one to explode into a dust cloud much like when a vamp would get staked on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”. A green mist it spews – an amazing feat for something with no lungs – can also reduce one to nothingness. And then there’s that phantom horse it conjures up (the “Bony Express” as I dubbed it) to gallop after those trying to flee on wheels. Problem is we get to see all three of these tricks within the first half hour and after that it’s just the same thing over and over. Not a whole lot of diversity in this creature’s modus operandi.

The Bone Eater has a goal its looking to meet within a set timeframe, and though the film is only set over the course of two days, the monster’s appearances felt almost completely random and the time span between appearances left me wondering what was this thing doing during its down time when it wasn’t on the screen attacking people as required by the script.

And I must say that it is rather amazing how a CGI monster can move with all the jerkiness of an old fashioned stop-motion creation.

I just hope that neither director and co-writer Jim Wynorski (using one of his many aliases) nor anyone else involved with the making of the movie ever got it in their head that this monster would scare anyone except maybe the smallest of children. Its visual menace rarely rises above a Halloween decoration. Heck, given how bloodless the film is, Bone Eater is probably suitable viewing for children. As I watched characters scream in the presence of this cartoonish skeletal demon, I found myself wondering when the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers would show up.

Instead of a color-coded Power Ranger we get Bruce Boxleitner with a heavy base of red make-up on his face in order to try and pass him off as half-Indian. As people go missing and other workers begin refusing to work, in what I can only ascribe as being a textbook case of Sci-Fi Channel villainy, the devious land developer in charge of the project blames it all on protesters who have been picketing his desecration of their ancestors’ land. Boxleitner’s sheriff, himself a half-breed Indian, a fact brought up so much that I can only assume it was lack of budget on Wynorski’s part that prevented him from including Cher’s song “Half Breed” on the soundtrack, finds himself caught between an age old land struggle between white and red skins.

Speaking of redskins, there’s something quite ironic that out of the four major Native American characters in the film, the perpetually angry militant, the one who hates the white man so much and gives Boxleitner’s character no shortage of grief over being half-white, the one who talks of wanting to try and control the Bone Eater in order to use it to take back all the land the white man stole from them, is himself the least Indian-looking of the bunch.

All the Native American characters are right out of the great big book of Indian archetypes: wise old Indian, pretty Indian girl, and the spiteful one with a serious dislike of both the white man and half breeds. None, however, are anywhere near as clichéd as the evil land developer who’ll stop at nothing to make sure no one or no thing prevents his project from being completed.

When the greedy industrialist isn’t scheming to cover up the Indian relics his digging has uncovered or screaming about how those savage protesters are trying to sabotage his project, when the Native American characters aren’t talking all metaphysical as they’re prone to do or that one is going off about how much he hates the white man, and when Bruce Boxleitner isn’t being all Bruce Boxleitnery, this big bony beast runs amok randomly killing minor characters. The only thing that can stop it is some sacred bone axe and it must be stopped before the eclipse in two days or else. Can Bruce Boxleitner get in tune with his Indian half in time to save the day? What do you think?

I’d highly recommend Bone Eater to anyone ever looking to write a Sci-Fi Channel original movie since the story is a prime example of Sci-Fi Channel Screenwriting 101. From displaying the monster in the opening minutes to it randomly attacking with little rhyme or reason every few minutes to hitting all the story beats right on cue to the cavalcade of stock characters and situations typical of Sci-Fi films, it’s practically a clinic in how to make and construct a Sci-Fi Channel original movie. I just wish they’d bother constructing better movies.

Bone Eater boasts one of the most senseless screenplays in quite some time. The story is overloaded with pointless characters, many of which don’t really contribute much of anything to the outcome of the story. What’s the point of giving Boxleitner’s character a teenage daughter if she’s never even put in danger? What’s the point of including the pretty young Native American woman if she’s neither put in peril or serves as someone’s love interest? What’s the point of casting a recognizable actor like Walter Koenig (“Star Trek”‘s Chekov) in a “blink and you missed it” throwaway role as a scientist whose whole scene ultimately amounts to nothing substantial? Or for that matter, casting “Greatest American Hero” William Katt in a nothing role as a town doctor who appears for all of about 90-seconds?

For that matter, why bother with a subplot involving a slightly older boy Sheriff Boxleitner disapproves of his teenage daughter dating if the only payoff for the storyline is the guy providing Boxleitner with the bone axe that he just happened to find laying around. Wow, how utterly convenient! And he’s never put into harm’s way either, but I guess giving Boxleitner a lift and providing him with the weapon needed to kill the creature counts as his proving himself worthy of dating his daughter.

Aside from Boxleitner’s character being caught being of mixed blood, absolutely nothing resembling character development ever occurs for any of the film’s many characters. The majority doesn’t even have any story arcs; they’re just there to fill space or die.

I can only speculate that the budget must have been all dried up by the time they got around to shooting the climax because the final showdown with the Bone Eater is a one-punch knockout. So quick and easy is the monster’s demise that it bypasses being anti-climactic and moves right up to feeling cheated. I sat there thinking this couldn’t possibly be all there was to it. And then the end credits started rolling. Insert groaning here.

After the shockingly entertaining (and still unavailable in the US) Cry of the Winged Serpent, Bone Eater is something of a step backward for Wynorski. You can tell he’s trying to have some fun with all this yet the story he helped pen is so pointless and derivative that making a genuinely entertaining film out of it is damn near impossible. Still, I have to say Bone Eater went down easier than a lot of the Sci-Fi Channel original movies I’ve viewed in the past year (i.e. Bats: Human Harvest, anything starring Stephen Baldwin). The visual sight of the monster does give the film moments of wacky charm, but other than that Bone Eater kind of bites.

Special Features

  • Trailers

    Film:

    2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    1/2 out of 5

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    AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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    Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

    Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


    ** NO SPOILERS **

    It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

    Spoiler free.

    To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

    That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

    Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

    Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

    Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

    Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

    But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

    But let’s backtrack a bit here.

    Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

    And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

    Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

    With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

    Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

    I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

    Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

    Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

    Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

    On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

    That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

    In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

    While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

    Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

    Bring on season 12.

    • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
    3.5

    Summary

    The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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    User Rating 4.43 (7 votes)
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    The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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    Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

    Directed by Nicholas Woods


    The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

    The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

    The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

    The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

    The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

    The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

    ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

    • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
    • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
    • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
    • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
    • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
    • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
    • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
    • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
    • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
    • The Axiom
    4.0

    Summary

    In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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    User Rating 3.9 (10 votes)
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    The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

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    Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

    Directed by Alan Lougher


    The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

    When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

    Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

    • Film
    3.5

    Summary

    Ultimately chilling in nature!

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    User Rating 3.31 (16 votes)
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