• Boneyard, The

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: April 9th, 2017.
    Director: James Cummins
    Cast: Deborah Rose, Denise Young, Ed Nelson, James Cummins, James Eustermann, Norman Fell, Phyllis Diller
    Year: 1991
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    The Movie:

    A cop named Jersey Callum (Ed Nelson) and his young partner Gordon Mullin (James Eustermann) let themselves into the home of Alley Oates (Deborah Rose) to find it in shambles. It turns out Alley was just sleeping, and she’s none too happy to have two cops poking about her filthy kitchen. It turns out there’s a reason for their visit, however – they need her help. See, Alley is a psychic and, in the past, she’s helped Jersey crack a few grisly murder cases. These days though… she just wants to be left alone. Regardless, Jersey insists and eventually gets her to agree to try and help identify the bodies of three children that were kept hidden away by a mortician named Chen (Robert Yun Ju Ahn). Chen, in his defense, claims that the mummied kids he was busted with have been protected by his family for generations. Something strange is afoot.

    Eventually the three of them wind up in the morgue in the middle of the night, having to deal with cranky Ms. Poopinplatz (Pyllis Diller), her obnoxious poodle and a hippy morgue attendant named Shepard (Norman Fell). From there, a man named Marty (Willie Stratford Jr.) wheels in a gurney with the body of a young woman on it. Well, it turns out she’s not dead. Her name is Dana (Denise Young) and while she tried to kill herself, it didn’t work. As this core group putters about the morgue, the corpses that Chen, who recently took his own life, tried to warn everyone about prove to be a whole lot less dead than everyone expected...

    Played for laughs as much as it is for scares, The Boneyard is an enjoyably hokey picture that benefits from some fun performances and genuinely strong effects work. The directorial debut of James Cummins, who had previously worked doing effects for films like John Carpenter’s The Thing, Dead & Buried and a few others, it’s fairly quick in its pacing and while never truly scary, at least entertaining. Maybe not so surprising, given Cummins background, is the fact that the effects, particularly in the last half hour or so, are showcased really nicely here and there’s a lot of obvious creativity and effort put into this aspect of the movie. It’s hardly a splatter fest but it gets reasonably gory in spots – though much like the story itself, sometimes these set pieces are also played with a humorous bent to them.

    Ed Nelson, who appeared in everything from Attack Of The Crab Monsters to Who Am I? to A Bucket Of Blood (not to mention a LOAD of television work) makes for a likeable enough lead. He’s surly enough in the part to work but not without compassion for the other characters. James Eustermann’s take on Detective Mullin is geared more towards comic relief than anything else but he’s fine. Deborah Rose – who some might recognize from Ski Patrol! – is okay in her part, though there are times where you wonder if she isn’t lacking a bit of charisma. More fun are the novelty casting choices of Phyllis Diller and Norman Fell. Diller is in fine form here, playing the bitchy old lady who runs the morgue with exactly the amount of obnoxious quirkiness you’d expect from here, while Fell is just funny to look at, clad in his lab coat and sporting a giant moustache, a ponytail and an earring.


    88 Films presents The Boneyard on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a ‘new HD restoration from the original negative’ framed at 1.78.1 widescreen that mops the floor with the old US DVD release that came out via Program Power’s Lucky 13 line (remember them?). The image is a grainy one, a little noisy in spots, but detail is pretty strong here and the image is very clean showing virtually no print damage at all. Colors look nice, black levels are strong and there are no problems with any compression artifacts or noticeable edge enhancement to complain about. Some scenes look a little soft – the opening scene in the kitchen for example – but it looks like that’s due to the original photography, not to the transfer.

    The movie has also been released by Code Red in North America, but that disc currently isn’t available to compare. There is, however, reported to be a quick ‘glitch’ on the Code Red disc at the 1:48 mark that lasts about a second – it’s a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ issue (video for this was posted on the Code Red Facebook page. That glitch is not present on the 88 disc even though they reportedly use the same master as 88 has seen fit to edit that quick second out (you can see the clip in question here).

    The only audio option on the disc is an LPCM Stereo mix in the film’s native English. It sounds fine – dialogue is clear and easy to follow, the levels are well balanced and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. The effects and the score, particularly that plays over the end credits, also sound quite good. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Extras are carried over from the aforementioned DVD release, staring with an interesting audio commentary featuring Director James Cummins and Producer Richard F. Brophy in which they talk about how and why Diller and Fell wound up in the movie, how some of the locations were secured, the effects work, casting choices that didn’t work out, and quite a bit more.

    We also get a few interviews, starting with a seventeen-minute piece featuring Phyliss Diller who notes that she was asked to perform in the movie with her ‘real hair,’ her thoughts on horror films, the difficulties of lifting heavy poodles and how Jim Bakker ties into her experiences on the shoot! Diller is pretty much exactly like you’d expect her to be here – she doesn’t turn it off. Up next is an interview with Director James Cummins that clocks in at eighteen-minutes. It covers pretty much the same ground as the commentary track, as does the twelve-minute piece with Producer Richard F. Brophy (though he does go into some detail about how he came to be the producer on the film and more specifically what his role entailed).

    Animated menus and chapter selection are also included here, and the disc comes packaged with some reversible cover sleeve artwork.

    The Final Word:

    The Boneyard is no forgotten masterpiece by any stretch but it’s a pretty entertaining way to kill an hour and a half thanks to some fun performances and strong effects work. 88 Films’ Blu-ray presents the film in a very nice HD presentation and carries over all of the extras from the older US DVD release.

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