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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Boneyard
The Boneyard
Power Program Entertainment
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted April 18, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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When a friendly neighborhood mortician reveals that he's been feeding bits and pieces of his cadaverous clientele to three ghoulish children, the befuddled authorities turn to a local psychic for some sort of explanation. The corpses don't seem to be quite as animated as Mr. Chen suggested, though when hunger sets in, they turn their sights towards the investigators, along with the victim of a failed suicide, a hippie coroner (Norman Fell), his entirely-unpleasant supervisor (Phyllis Diller), and her beloved pet poodle.

The thought of the flesh-eating undead, a hideously deformed poodle of superhuman size and strength, and a rampaging mutant Phyllis Diller colliding in 93 minutes of campy celluloid goodness had me salivating. "The Boneyard" turned out to be surprisingly dull, making the same mistake as numerous micro-budget horror flicks before it, spending far, far too much time on the set-up. Only having three zombies seems pretty limited in scope, especially since they tend to attack individually. It's the other two monsters that give "The Boneyard" the cult status it enjoys, though they don't make an appearance until far too late in the film. "The Boneyard" is played too straight until Diller's transformation, and even then, the infectious fun and over-the-top gore of similar efforts like "Dead Alive" rarely rear their gruesome little heads. That's not to say that "The Boneyard" is some unredeemingly bad movie that ought to be avoided at all costs. It has its moments, and the two creatures near the end are alone worth the price of entry. "The Boneyard" isn't the sort of instant classic that never seems to lose its luster despite weekly viewings, but this disc should prove to be a nice diversion for schlock-horror devotees.

"The Boneyard" comes courtesy of the relatively-new Program Power, a company poised to snag the hard-earned dollars from cult cinema enthusiasts. With A-Pix and Simitar dead and buried, Synapse plagued by lengthy delays, releases from Elite slowing down to a trickle, and Troma continuing to focus on producing studio propaganda instead of quality transfers, it's nice to see a fresh face enter the market with this level of enthusiasm and a decent catalog of films.

Video: The packaging on this review copy has some conflicting aspect ratio information. "The Boneyard" is full-frame, not letterboxed to 1.85:1 as a blurb on the back cover indicates. The transfer seems decent enough, though limited by the elements on-hand. The image is a bit on the grainy side, and brightness and contrast are a little inconsistent. Despite some occassional softness, "The Boneyard" generally looks clear and reasonably well-defined. The quality of the video won't set the world ablaze or anything, but for a film of this budget, age, and obscurity, this DVD release of "The Boneyard" looks about as good as can be expected.

Audio: The weakest aspect of "The Boneyard", the 'ultra stereo' audio track, is marred by consistent hiss, though that's easy enough to block out after the first few minutes. There was one scene in particular where the dialogue seemed lightly distorted, but this isn't a constant problem. Although the music sounds full and rich, the remainder of the audio is anemic. Many of the effects sound temporary, as if there weren't enough money in the coffers for foley work, and even the gunfire and large explosions lack any punch or resonance. Not having seen "The Boneyard" before, I can't say if this is the way the film has always sounded. The stereo track isn't breathtaking, but there's nothing about it that detracts from the filmgoin' experience to any large degree.

Supplements: Writer/director James Cummins and producer Richard F. Brophy contribute a commentary track to "The Boneyard". The most interesting discussion comes early on, mentioning some of the original choices for the film's cast. The remainder of the track didn't maintain my interest in quite the same way, though some of the tales of cast squabbles, special effects, and set design kept me from whacking the 'Stop' button. What was with the echo, though? The interview segments run almost half the length of the commentary. Phyllis Diller's chat is definitely the highlight of the disc, filmed especially for this DVD release. Diller seems to look back somewhat fondly on the film, and she keeps her interviewer and other crew members in hysterics for much of the 16 minute discussion. Commentary participants Cummins and Brophy are interviewed separately, and although much of what Cummins offers up is echoed on the commentary, Brophy spends a lot of time talking about his role as producer and the process of getting the film together.

DVD-ROM supplements tend to be pretty weak on most discs, but Program Power has added a lot more than web links and a goofy screen saver. Using the cross-platform-friendly Adobe Acrobat format, 62 megs of Boneyard goodness are piled on the disc, including creature sketches, crew bios, one-sheets, photo galleries, press kits, publicity photos, the script, and press clippings. A smaller photo gallery is presented on the set-top player-accessible portion of "The Boneyard", along with what is listed as the theatrical trailer, though obviously culled from a low-quality video cassette.

Conclusion: Take a gander at the thumbnail of the cover art near the top of this review. If a glance of that has you laughing maniacally, congratulations -- you're one of us. Despite a decent presentation and some quality extras, "The Boneyard" was enough of a disappointment that I can't enthusiastically recommend it, but it's worth snagging to watch on a slow week when nothing particularly interesting streets.
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