Monday, May 7, 2007

#9: The Boneyard (James Cummins, 1991)

This ultra-low-budget B-movie is all over the place, never quite knowing what it wants to be, but its sloppy inconsistency is its greatest strength. If director and special effects man Cummins stuck with just one element of the goofy-ass script, this would have been an unremarkable film. I still can't call it remarkable, but it ain't boring. It encompasses a jaded, near-retirement detective and his moronic young partner, a middle-aged psychic who used to help them out until the job got to her (she's also in mourning for a dead child), a suicidal young woman, a mortician secretly under the sway of an ancient Chinese curse, zombie children, vomit and slime, a nearly abandoned morgue open for one more week, Phyllis Diller (as Miss Poopinplatz), Norman Fell as an aging hippy forensic pathologist, a mutant poodle, and a mutant Phyllis Diller.

The film's tone veers from police procedural to murder mystery to overly serious drama to broad sitcom comedy to creepy horror to goofy horror to action thriller and closes with what would have been the cheesiest '80s song ever written if it hadn't been 1991. I can't recommend this one to anybody who doesn't like horror or cheap B-movies, but as an avid fan of both, I got a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Norman Fell's part was originally offered to Alice Cooper, who turned it down. I really wish I had been listening in on the brainstorming process that led to that decision:
"Guys, Alice Cooper won't do it. Who can bring something similar to the role?"
"Norman Fell?"
"I love it!"

This is the only film in which Phyllis Diller appears without a wig.

Director James Cummins decided after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that horror was too negative for our modern world. Here is what he does now.

Read Spacebeer's take on "The Boneyard" here.

1 comment:

Spacebeer said...

Little Doodle is totally giving me the creeps. And the heart on his t-shirt was inspired by two rounds of open heart surgery? That isn't making the world a more positive place after 9/11. It is just weird. And freaky.

Also, I love that the middle-aged psychic is this regular-looking, overweight, non-Hollywood woman who keeps it together, kind of saves the day, and doesn't get killed in a dumb way or made out to be the butt of younger people's jokes. There is a lot of silly stuff in this movie, but there is also actually some neat characterization, particularly between the detective and the psychic.

And Phyllis Diller is awesome.