Monday, April 24, 2023

Another List Completed

Film: The Boneyard
Format: Internet video on Fire!

If you had told me when I put Fangoria’s 101 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen list as a collection of movies I was going to watch that I would end with a film that featured Phyllis Diller and Normal Fell, I would have believed you, but I would have been at least a little shocked. The Boneyard is in some ways the perfect way to finally close out this list. It’s a better movie than you might think going in, but it’s also a movie that you probably haven’t seen for a very good reason.

The Boneyard is very much a low-budget film, and it’s one that put all of its budget into the special effects. One of the ways you can tell this is low-budget is that the most famous people in it are, well, Phyllis Diller and Normal Fell. Another way to tell is that it essentially takes place in a single location—a morgue. There are a few moments here and there outside of the morgue, but all of the real action takes place there.

We’re going to be introduced to a couple of cops, Jersey Callum (Ed Nelson) and his younger partner, Gordon Mullin (James Eustermann). Jersey meets up with a psychic named Alley Oates (Deborah Rose), who has helped him in the past. In this case, they are dealing with a case in which a funeral home director has been essentially feeding ghouls in his facility with the corpses of those he is burying. These corpses appear to be children, but he tells the authorities that they are actually demons called “kyoshi,” and they can only be sated by feeding them human flesh, which is what he has been doing. Naturally, with the funeral home director in custody, the ghouls awaken because they really are ghouls—and they do so in the morgue and start attacking.

That’s pretty much the entire story, aside from a few additional people. We’re going to meet Dana (Denise Young), a woman brought to the morgue as an apparent suicide victim, although it turns out she wasn’t successful. We’ll also get Marty (Willie Stratford), the guy who shows up with the bodies, and Shepard (Normal Fell), the coroner. Finally, we’ll have to deal with—and yes, this is the real name of the character, Miss Poppinplatz (Phyllis Diller), who runs the morgue. She has a poodle named Floofsoms, who will end up being a major part of the plot as well.

The biggest issue with The Boneyard is that it desperately wants to be a horror comedy, and it fails on the comedy front. The comedy is, in fact, a terrible choice for this, because it’s not at all constant. A lot of this really attempts to be serious. Alley, as a psychic, is horribly depressed. It’s hinted at that her abilities come from the fact that she lost a child due to ovarian cancer, and was abandoned by the prospective father. Dana is clearly dealing with suicidal depression. There’s a lot here that is worth exploring in the context of a horror movie, and a lot that would be worth addressing.

And in the middle of that, we have a character named Poopinplatz. And, while this character is played by the notoriously wacky Phyllis Diller, she’s not played as a wacky character, but a mean and angry one. All of the attempts at humor fall flat here (or most of them do), because there are serious undertones to a lot of this—it’s aiming for Return of the Living Dead while having a screenplay that is 90% Night of the Living Dead.

There are also issues with the special effects. The ghouls actually look pretty good. They are upsetting and weird, and they look great. But, of course with a character named Poopinplatz, we’re going to have her become a creature eventually as well, and when she does, well, she looks like the picture at the top of this review. It’s very Killer Klowns from Outer Space, or perhaps Large Marge from Peewee’s Big Adventure, and it doesn’t really work with the rest of the film.

That said, there’s a lot here I like and that is worth seeing. I love the idea of Deborah Rose as a main character, because she really doesn’t look like one. She’s middle aged, overweight, and not particularly attractive. She looks real and not unlike Angela Lansbury’s daughter. She’s better than this screenplay, and it’s a shame that this was the last thing on her credits on IMDb.

There’s a really good movie somewhere wrapped up in The Boneyard. Less comic special effects and 20 minutes of search-and-replace for some character names, and this probably jumps a full star in my estimation.

Why to watch The Boneyard: There’s a story worth seeing in here somewhere.
Why not to watch: The comedy really doesn’t fit at all.


  1. Replies
    1. It's not terrible; it could just be a lot better.

  2. I've never even heard of this. Which I guess makes sense for the list it was on.

    1. It's honestly not worth seeking out. I can tell you, though, that if you look it up online, you will see that it's available on Tubi. It's not--that's a different movie with the same name.