When infamous serial killer Bonejangles is captured and set to be locked away for a very long time, the hapless police officers responsible think their troubles are over. All that’s left to do is transport the Jason Voorhees analogue to his lunatic asylum final destination, via the small town of Argento, USA. What none of them counted upon, however, is Argento being home to a legion of bloodthirsty zombies. When the transport truck breaks down, the police face the fight of their lives – and Bonejangles may just be the key to their survival.
That’s a killer hook for any horror film, and, for a few precious moments, Bonejangles looks as though it could well fulfil that promise. Unfortunately, it all goes to pot almost as soon as the first character opens his mouth. Cheery gore aside, Bonejangles’ comedy is played with the broadest of strokes, from the insufferable characters down.
While it’s refreshing for a horror film to embrace its male characters’ cowardice, Bonejangles is like watching a rude, gory version of Scooby-Doo, minus any of the wit, with its Scooby (the handsome one) and Shaggy (the hairy one) only a ‘jinkies’ and a Scooby snack away from achieving full cartoon. And not a good one either - think Scooby Apocalypse (the best-avoided DC comic book) rather than Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
Unfortunately, it’s not just bad but frequently offensive too, playing grotesque stereotypes and gratuitous sexism for laughs and – in the case of the boys’ female colleague – cheap titillation. We’ve had worse actors (for the most part) in low-budget features, but few characters as awful as those depicted here. And then there’s the cameo from Phantasm star Reggie Bannister, delivering what might be the worst performance ever given by an otherwise beloved horror personality (hear that? That’s Bill Moseley in Texas Chainsaw 3D breathing a sigh of relief).
Glimpses of a good movie appear intermittently as the gang take up arms in search of the local succubus, and Bonejangles stalks the woods in true Friday the 13th style. It looks decent too, its surprisingly crisp visuals backed up by relatively solid gore effects and sharp direction. At 78 minutes, the nicest thing we can say about it is that it doesn’t outstay its welcome too much, and director Brett DeJager at least has a good handle on the film’s pace.
But these positives are dragged down by the bad; an obvious, ugly sense of humour and horrible overacting (featuring one monologue-giving character who sorely tested this writer’s remote’s ‘mute’ button), wasting a promising concept and fun movie monster. Bonejangles aims for splattery fun, but the execution itself falls short. Being scrappy will only get you so far.
BONE JANGLES / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: BRETT DEJAGER / SCREENPLAY: KEITH MELCHER / STARRING: REGGIE BANNISTER, ELISSA DOWLING, JULIA CAVANAUGH / RELEASE DATE: 18TH JULY