Your enjoyment of 1991’s straight-to-video horror film The Boneyard will depend mostly on whether you consider the final 15 minutes to be unhinged near-genius or total bobbins. In the commentary accompanying this new 88 Films Blu-ray, producer Richard F. Brophy begins by saying he will “try to be serious but probably won’t make it” – which almost perfectly describes the movie itself.
In The Boneyard, Detective Callum calls on now-reclusive and guilt-ridden psychic Alley to help out with a case involving a man who was holding three ‘children’ apparently hostage and feeding them human remains. The investigation eventually finds Callum, Alley and a few others trapped in a closing-down-soon police morgue with the three bodies of the children, who it turns out might not be either totally human or totally dead. The man might really have been hiding and feeding the ‘kids’ to protect the outside world from them. It’s a slow, almost dragging start to the film which takes some time getting to the morgue, but when it does eventually change up a gear there’s gloopy, gory video store treats ahead.
Writer-director James Cummins actually plays a pretty nifty double hand here. Inspired by Romero and the previous two decades of bloody horror, Cummins plays it totally straight despite what’s actually on-screen frequently being borderline silly. It’s shot as a serious horror film and the cleaned-up HD print here is very solid, with no real hint of damage and plenty of sharp imagery. That imagery also shows off the other part of Cummins’ film in the practical effects. As things get wild in the morgue we get an escalating mix of creepy kids, giant zombies and mutant animals that, for fans of practical work, is charming and at once remarkable nonsense, all of it intended by Cummins. There’s much to enjoy with good performances, likeable characters, some sterling Star Trek-style body double work, and a really great score by John Lee Whitener. If this era of horror film history is your thing, and you don’t mind a movie wedging its tongue resolutely in cheek as it heads to its conclusion, you’ll likely get a kick out of it.
Fans of the film are well-served, too. In addition to a quality print we get some archival interviews with stand-up comedian and actress Phyllis Diller (17 mins), Cummins himself (18 mins) and producer Brophy (12 mins). We also get that aforementioned feature-length commentary from Cummins and Brophy. It’s a glorious period for these films, often put out on VHS to make a buck during the rental boom and now finding a second existence on releases like this. Warmly recommended.
Special Features: Audio commentary / Interviews
THE BONEYARD / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JAMES CUMMINS / STARRING: ED NELSON, DEBORAH ROSE, NORMAN FELL, JAMES EUSTERMANN, DENISE YOUNG, PHYLLIS DILLER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW