I didn't look carefully at the DVD cover for Bone Eater, a soon-to-be-released direct-to-video monster flick from Lionsgate, before I started watching it. Because of this, as the opening credits rolled, I was surprised by its cast; it seemed like a veritable who's who of genre television from my youth. The names that showed up included Bruce Boxleitner from Babylon 5, William Katt (The Greatest American Hero), Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), and Star Trek's original Chekov, Walter Koenig. I looked at the box, then, and saw that three of these four names were listed in the movie's description on the back.
Well, I thought, at least it'll be interesting to see these old-timers together in a movie.
How sadly wrong I was.
To begin with, while Bruce Boxleitner plays the lead, the other three actors do nothing more than make token cameos - Gerard as a construction worker, Katt as a doctor (wearing glasses so ugly they must be seen to be believed), and Koenig as a coroner. These are blink-and-you'll-miss-them appearances.
But then, this movie is a real piece of crap, so I don't blame them for taking the money and running.
I can understand a cheap movie company paying a few bucks for genre actors to show up briefly in their films, but shame on Lionsgate for making it sound like their contributions are much more significant than they really are in their blurb for this film.
In any case, let's review the movie itself. Bone Eater begins at a construction site. Apparently, evil land developers are building on a location where Native American artifacts reside. The local Native Americans are not happy about this project and they're protesting (a laughable scene has about six Native Americans walking around in circles with rectangular signs). However, these protestors are the least of the workers' worries, for they've unearthed a bone that morphs into a silly-looking CG skeleton creature. When this "Bone Eater" touches people, they scream as they explode into dust and disappear. The Bone Eater can also pull out bones from . . . well, somewhere . . . and throw them at people, who then scream as they explode into dust and disappear. (This trick was a little reminiscent of the old X-Men character Marrow, if anyone remembers her.) Oh yeah, the Bone Eater can also breathe green vapor at people, who then scream as they explode into dust and disappear.
These three tricks are revealed at the start of the movie, and they get repeated ad nauseum as the Bone Eater is responsible for a good many people who scream as they explode into dust and disappear when they become unfortunate enough to encounter the cheesy creature.
Who will save humanity from this newly excavated menace?
Well, it's the aforementioned Bruce Boxleitner, here a middle-aged sheriff. He's got his rebellious daughter, her 21-year-old boyfriend, and a cute Native American teacher (played by Jennifer Lee Wiggins) to help him out. Boxleitner demonstrates that he has no shame at the end of this turkey. Decked out in war paint(!), he grabs an old bone weapon and rides on horseback for a showdown with the Bone Eater in the middle of a highway. The Bone Eater rides his own wispy skeletal horse, and the buildup - complete with faux cowboy music - promises an exciting finale that never really materializes.
Make no bones about it (so sorry about that pun), this is a stinker. Skip it.
On the back of the cover art, Lionsgate describes the video presentation of Bone Eater as "16x9 Widescreen 1.78:1 DVD Screen Format." And that's precisely what's offered. It is anamorphic. There's a lot of video noise - especially in nighttime scenes. However, for as bad as this movie is, I was actually kind of surprised at how fairly good it looked. Colors were well-presented, and details were sharp.
The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0. It's very efficient: dialogue is always clear, and that god-awful score comes across in all of its dubious glory. There are plenty of generic sound effects (like the firing of guns and the squealing of tires), but outside of a few rumbles heralding earthquakes, don't expect an exciting or dynamic mix.
Subtitles are presented in English and Spanish.
Trailers automatically precede the main menu for Komodo Vs. Cobra, Swarmed, and Dark Storm. They're also available through an Also From Lionsgate link in the main menu. All three trailers are presented in full screen.
And that's it for extras. I guess you would call this a "bare bones" release.
I was tempted to give Bone Eater zero stars, but I have to admit that the movie does have two things going for it. For one thing, it has a it's so bad you have to see it to believe it vibe. This is perfect Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder, and fans of truly bad movies will love Bone Eater. On a related quality, the last ten minutes are excruciatingly bad. It's amazing to see how far Bruce Boxleitner's career must have fallen for him to be willing to keep a straight face performing in this film's supposed climactic battle.
These two things aren't enough though. Skip it.