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OK, gather 'round, all ye hoary studio executives at Lionsgate and all others flooding DVD markets with cruddy horror and genre movies on a weekly basis, uncle Kurt is doling out more free money-making advice. Just somebody, please, remember me in your will, as I'm about to make you even richer while actually building up good will from your customers. You see, most of us can't stand any more the onslaught of sub-par CGI, 36-hour scripts, contempt for the viewer and total lack of imagination you all call movies.
Delivering a movie immune to porn-parody, Lionsgate brings us Bone Eater, a movie that strongly resembles the above remarks. Let's see, an evil-developer turns deaf ear to community protests, proceeding to dig up an Indian Burial Ground, and unleashing ancient evil the Sheriff and his Cute Daughter must fend off. Interesting, my brain actually shut down writing that last sentence, which is an improvement over what my brain did while sitting through the movie.
The usual assemblage of hot young bodies (check out Sheriff's daughter Kelly (Clara Bryant) or the Angry Young Indian Johnny Black Hawk (Adoni Maropis) - yowza!) and trench-toiling celebs decades past career peaks do whatever so that Bone Eater gets in the can on-time and under budget. Bruce Boxleitner as Sheriff Evans gamely delivers cliché after cliché while ogling his daughter, before barely suppressing giggles during the ludicrous and (believe it or not) disappointing finale.
From the get-go you'll realize there's not much more than lazy joking going on in Bone Eater. Why else during credits would you flash unrecognizable guest-star Gil Gerard's name over a shot of that rock formation etched into Buck Rogers fans' brains? Worse, our goofy monster makes a well-lit, full body appearance about three minutes into the film. OK, we don't have to worry about dealing with suspense. The fact that the bone eater looks like it leaped off the cover of some teen-stoner's Pee-Chee doesn't help matters. This is a creature that would be far more entertaining in stop-motion animation (it even moves like such an invention - by design? Who knows?) but as a CGI monstrosity it just seems cheap. Cheap also describes the CGI dust-cloud death effects, which in their ubiquity take on the tone of Thugee Guard whippings from the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom videogame. No effort is spared to make Bone Eater out as a goofy popcorn flick, from the bone eater's hilarious steed to poverty row set pieces. The three-student college archaeology campout is a particular laugh. At least they look cute scratching at a dried mud-pile with camping shovels.
Since it's obvious Bone Eater is a put-on (don't be fooled by the packaging) then why is it so unsatisfying? Three-line cameos by Walter Koenig and William Katt just make you wonder how much they got paid, while the straight-to-DVD CGI effects have none of the charm of Robot Monster or The Giant Claw, they just seem like tossed off make-work. The real problem though is that Bone Eater is too long, and with that length comes padding - too much evil developer, too much daddy-daughter tension, too much stuff that seems to brand Bone Eater as a real movie. So OK, Lionsgate, let your directors toil in the genre trenches, but why not increase the fast and lean aesthetic? Release two 60-minute movies on a double-feature DVD, and play up the fact that this is supposed to be fun. No one wants to sit around 90 minutes for a lame joke.
Coming at you in a 1.78:1 ratio enhanced for 16 x 9 widescreen TVs, Bone Eater looks decent enough, with a pretty clear and sharp picture. The movie sports a well-compressed transfer with no glaring artifacts, good black levels and naturalistic colors. We couldn't ask for much more from a movie that's certainly not on any videophile's lists (at least not in that way).
Dolby Digital Stereo audio is also perfectly serviceable, nicely dynamic, well-mixed and balanced. The dialog component suffers no problems, is clear and audible and easy to discern amidst all the shrieking and dramatic music. Also, this is nothing to truly thrill audio enthusiasts, but there's also nothing to turn off viewers.
Previews for a handful of other crap-tastic Lionsgate releases - thrillers with more crummy CGI - represent the sole extra. (OK, I guess English and Spanish Subtitles count, too.)
Bone Eater is what you might call a 'bad' movie. Neither scary, nor particularly thrilling, (and certainly not crafted with any high pretense) it's one of those movies meant to have you spray coke or beer out of your nose while you laugh. (At least I hope that was the intent.) But at that, it's still too long, as if by going toe-to-toe with other releases for your Tuesday DVD dollar it has to seem like a 'real' movie. It shouldn't try to shoulder that burden. Rather Bone Eater and its ilk should cheap-it-up some more, partner with other losers for some DVD-double-feature fun, and give the people what they want. But for sheer bottom-of-the-barrel chutzpah, Bone Eater ekes out a slightly long-winded Rent It.