Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Directed by Brian Paulin
Morbid Vision Films
I've been wanting to check out something from Morbid Vision for a while now...I see them floating about now and then on the Rue Morgue forums, and they seem like good people. Plus I'm getting a uniformly positive vibe about their movie 'Fetus'.
Thus, fate stepped in (in the form of the Horror channel) and provided me the opportunity to watch the movie which preceded 'Fetus', namely 'Bone Sickness'.
'Bone Sickness' chiefly concerns an unfortunate fellow called Alex, who is suffering from a rare degenerative bone disease. The only thing which seems to offset the disease is for Alex to consume bone marrow. Fortunately, Alex's friend Thomas is a mortician, and a man of highly dubious ethics, and thus has access to lots of freshly-minted cadavers brimming with juicy, succulent bone marrow. What could possibly go wrong, I hear you ask?
Take note, phoney Vegas stage magicians...the old 'Sawing A Woman In Half' trick performed without the aid of any tricked-out box. Beat that!
Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, let's just say that all hell breaks loose, the dead walk the earth, and Alex starts retching up worms and maggots as he begins to transform into something quite inhuman...and in that regard he's not alone!
Cleanse. Tone. Exfoliate. Moisturise. Worms. Because you're worth it.
IMDB estimates the budget at around $3000, and as we all know, IMDB is never wrong. Ever.
It struck me that I've actually watched indie horrors with a budget slightly more than 1000 times (yes, one thousand times that of Bone Sickness, and whilst the money is clearly evident in the technical quality of the finished product, if the filmmakers aren't coming from 'the right place', horror-wise, then all the money in the world ain't gonna make a lick of difference. Look at this way, if you can rack up three stars on IMDB by only spending $3,000 then it suggests to me that with a little extra cash and a touch more experience, Paulin and company could really light it up.
You can't keep a good man down...or a zombie, for that matter.
Sure there are technical faults aplenty, and room for improvement in any department you'd care to mention, but the amount of set-piece moments crammed in here, especially considering the obvious financial limitations, is highly impressive.
In spite of the faults, it's still a movie I could stand to watch a second time. I can't say that for Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (about an hour too long, if I'm honest) or 2012 (just plain awful).
A lot of the cast could be described as 'not ready for primetime', but you're not watching this film for soulful soliloquys and meaningful monologues, but rather sadistic skullcrushing and malicious maimings, and on that front, 'Bone Sickness' delivers the goods in spades. And hatchets. And just about any sort of blunt-force trauma inducing object that you might care to imagine.
In addition to the gratuitous gore, we also have some gratuitous nudity to balance the proceedings out.
Usually, when Ruby LaRocca is getting eaten in a movie, it's by Darian Caine or Misty Mundae, not Zombies!
Ruby LaRocca is probably familar to any Seduction Cinema devotees lurking amongst our number (it's okay...you're amongst friends here!), and bodacious lead actress Darya Zabinski's charms might be best summed up as 'a dead heat in the Zeppelin race'...if you know what I mean!
Some mornings, I just don't feel myself until I feel myself...
There's also one bizarre incidence of pixellation of a girl's genitals, I'm guessing perhaps with an eye on being suitable for the Japanese market?
The Japanese do indeed make some rad DVD covers, it must be said...
My biggest gripe with Bone Sickness is not the technical issues, but rather with structure. After what should be the big finale, we have a couple of other scenes tacked on at the end.
Remember: If Brian Paulin ever suggests that he should 'Pimp Your Ride' for you, it would be well advised to politely decline his kind offer...
There's nothing wrong with the scenes in and of themselves (indeed, the graveyard sequence is a veritable gore tour de force, with a terrific bludgeoning decapitation with the help of a handy headstone!), it's just that
they are devoid of any protagonist the audience can identify with, seeing as just about every character in the film
is slowly working their way through some zombie's digestive tract at this point in the proceedings.
If I'm being picky, he should really be wearing gloves...but who's going to argue with someone pointing a gun at them?
There's also a sequence illustrating the zombie problem spreading to the wider world, and with the forces of humanity clad in biohazard suits, it kind of puts one in the mind of Romero's 'The Crazies',
or other toxic-spill inspired zombie flicks of the Eighties. Again, nothing wrong with it...there's a car stunt, a body burn, and yet more gore, including an awesome suicide-by-hand-grenade scene!
It's just that it seems superfluous in the context of the general storyline of the movie.
Finally, we have a short but atmospheric scene showing a zombie ambling his way across a snow covered landscape as a desperate voice on the radio asks if there is anyone out there still alive. I think this scene might have worked better if it was dropped in at the end of the credit reel.
As it is, it's just another part of the collection of scenes at the end which tend to distract from the narrative that has preceded it. I can certainly see the intent of these scenes, but whilst they contain some of the more impressive sequences in the film, I still think they do more harm than good.
Looking at them, it's hard to see how you would edit them down so as to be effective in a narrative context without losing something good in a blood-and-guts context. Working at this budget level, if you've spent the time and money shooting something, you really can't afford not to put it in.
I couldn't help but like it, in spite of the numerous production shortcomings. The good outweighs the bad, and it's never boring, predictable, formulaic or prosaic...I've seen a lot more respectably-budgeted mid-level indie horrors
where the production values are on a par with a 1990s TV show, but they're just kind of bland. Bone Sickness was obviously done on a shoestring, and more often than not it shows, but it matters not a jot in the grander scheme of things because it's evidently a movie that has its' heart in the right place...until some undead ghoul tears it out of their chest or something, that is.
It's a heaving, pus-spewing, blood-gushing, gore-laden highlight reel of horror set pieces. I think a lot of more casual horror fans would dismiss it out of hand as amateurish rubbish (but what do they know, after all?), but true horror fans would immediately realise a no-budget gem that punches way above its' weight.
If you like your movies all glossy and blue-lit like every other Hollywood horror, you'll hate Bone Sickness. If, on the other hand, you love low budget indie horror and like to see practical effects as opposed to CGI, then Bone Sickness will be right up your alley. This is horror made by hardcore horror fans for hardcore horror fans, for those people to whom splatter matters.
If you, like me, count yourself amongst that number, then you'll no doubt be punching the air with macabre glee and failing to restrain yourself from yelling 'Fucking Old School!' at the top of your lungs. I kind of caught myself subconsciously humming the theme tune from 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' a couple of times...it's definitely a movie that will bring those sort of 80's Italian zombie flick memories rushing back.
Now that's what I'm talking about!
Your mileage may vary dependent upon your tolerance for ultra-low budget filmmaking, but for me this movie rather hit the spot. C'mon...where else are you going to see a film where one of the characters projectile-farts a mess of worms out of their bleeding backside?
Apparently there are two versions of this flick in existence, but I've no idea which one it is that I ended up watching, and which DVD version that corresponds to. I'm going to attempt to find out and will update this review accordingly as and when I do.
There goes the neighbourhood...
So, having ostensibly 'watched it for free' on the TV, would I now go out and buy it on DVD? Yes, I think I will...however, I think I might be tempted to make a little detour and perhaps check out 'Fetus' first. Either way, Bone Sickness has served to whet my appetite. It's an acquired taste, no doubt, but it's the kind of thing I can most certainly watch quite happily.