• Skullworld



    Released by: Unstable Ground Inc.
    Released on: June 18, 2013.
    Director: Justin McConnell
    Cast: Greg Sommer
    Year: 2012
    Check out the Skullworld Homepage!

    The Movie:

    There exists, out there in this big old world of ours, a subculture of sorts in which “a network of cardboard warriors who are engaged in an epic struggle for the liberty of corrugated creativity.... which may or may not have a point at all!.” Known as Box Wars, this is basically a bunch of people who dress up in cardboard suits of armor with cardboard weapons and battle each other in various locations and at various times. It’s kind of a weird idea, but those involved in it sure do seem to love it.

    Enter a young man named Greg Sommer. He works as a gravedigger and lives in his mother’s basement. He get into Box Wars early on and founded a chapter in Canada which he know heads as his alter ego, Skull Man, a mighty warrior in a skull mask with a crazy voice and an unparalleled enthusiasm for cardboard combat. Filmmaker Justin McConnell got word of Greg’s obsession and lifestyle and decided to follow him around with a camera for a few years, and the result is this documentary, aptly titled Skullworld.

    As we follow Greg around and see him work on various projects and go about his life, through him we also meet a few other Box Wars aficionados. As the movement starts to get some serious momentum behind it, It grows and Greg becomes a bigger player accordingly. His enthusiasm never wanes and his dedication seems to grow more and more rampant, bordering on obsessive. He and others start to spend more time and more money and more resources on costumes that become increasingly complex, but you’ve got to admire the creativity that goes into transforming that once held a refrigerator into a massive suit or armor. A trip to Australia is a highlight, as we see just how dedicated some of the people down under are to this, while more and more of Greg’s personality and quirks come shining through. As this starts to happen we learn more about what makes him tick, his obsession with extreme metal and his fascination with members of the opposite sex.

    Throughout all of this is a strange sense of optimism, of fun and you wind up really wanting Greg and his fellow Box Warriors to really be able to make a go of it. This is as much of a personality piece as it is a documentary about a specific movement within pop culture but Greg’s an interesting enough guy that this is never a detriment. There’s no irony here, no one hams it up for the camera, it’s just a fascinating portrait of people doing something that they live with no regard for what others think. In a way the movie and the movement it covers is a testament to doing your own thing and not giving a shit about society’s tendency to judge, in another way it’s a document of something akin to a freakshow but it’s never boring and it’s infectiously positive.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Blu-ray feature an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track with optional English SDH subtitles provide. Audio quality is solid for the most part, though it gets a little hectic during some of the battle sequences. Generally though, if this isn’t the most enveloping mix you’re ever going to hear it features clean, clear dialogue and properly balanced levels with some occasionally noticeable directional effects thrown in to keep things interesting.

    The extras start off with a commentary with director Justin McConnell and the documentary’s subject, Greg Sommer, but if that’s not enough for you, also check out the ‘Skull Man's Rockin' Commentary Experience’ which is done in character by Greg’s alter ego. The first track is informative, it gives us some welcome background information on how the idea for the documentary came up, why the people in the movie do what they do and why McConnell decided to make a movie about it. The second track is nuts.

    If that weren’t enough, there are seven Extended Segments And Battles included here highlighted by the complete and unabridged version of the trip to Australia seen in the feature, and on top of that there are another twenty-one deleted scenes. Most of this stuff would have just wound up padding the film and it was probably best that it be cut out to keep the running time sane, but some of it is still pretty interesting which makes it worth sifting through.

    The Blu-ray also includes the full length version of the Skull Man's Box Wars self-produced TV show pilot that is seen in the feature. It’s just as nutty as you’d probably expect. We also get a few minutes’ worth of footage from the movie’s premiere at the Canadian Film Festival. Rounding out the extras is the “Overfiend Maiden" music video, the “Skull Man's Pit Files” music video, some trailers for the feature, a few still galleries, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Skullworld is a pretty interesting and completely bizarre documentary that is very often quite funny and a consistently engaging watch. The transfer on the Blu-ray won’t floor you but it looks pretty good considering how the movie was shot. The audio is fine and the extras are plentiful and add a lot to an already very cool, unique and bizarre release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!