Released in 1991, The Boneyard has a screenplay that contains more ideas than it knows what to do with, mixing in bits of psychic powers, Chinese mythology, creepy zombies, wacky monsters, action movie explosions, and attempts at comedy. It's quite the hodge-podge of whatthefuckery and the film can't seem to stay focused on any one idea, continually abandoning one thread for another. This scattershot approach probably helps the movie more than it hurts it, although it complicates the story endlessly.
Alley Oates makes for an interesting and ununusual lead female character in a movie. She's middle-aged, overweight, a heavy smoker, and kind of a sad sack. She not the typical female-hero type, but her vulnerability gives way to her toughness and fortitude as the movie goes on, so she definitely has some of the action/horror movie heroine DNA in her.
She gained her abilities after the death of her daughter and has been in seclusion since the burden of her psychic powers and the public scrutiny became too much to bear. She does however reluctantly agree to help out on the case, but only after having a freaky ass dream where her dead daughter gives her a big hug. It's this short dream sequence that is the movie's first signal that things are going to get crazy and freaky.
Working the front desk is Miss Poopinplatz (along with her poodle Floofsoms), a funny cantankerous old lady who gives Lt. Jersey a hard time about bringing Alley down to see the bodies. She tells a couple jokes and lets out a big Phyllis Diller laugh at one point, which is totally fine as she's played by legendary comedian Phyllis Diller.
|At the request of the director, Diller did this role without one of her trademark wigs.|
Once down there, Alley discovers Jersey, Mullen, Dana, and Shepard all holed up in one of the offices, but not before she finds everyone else slaughtered and the zombie children demons feasting greedily on their innards! The zombie kids are slimy and decomposed looking and they move around with a jittering quality, upping the creep factor considerably. To make matters worse, one of them carries around a doll.
These scenes alone make this movie worth watching, but luckily there's enough other weird stuff to keep you interested while waiting for Floofsoms to hulk out. The movie's biggest problem is that it is heavy on overly written exposition scenes, like the over-explaining of Alley's psychic powers and history or the over-long tender moments between Mullen and Dana. There's lots of talking between the (admittedly limited) action, which is obviously just filler and seems to do little more than bring up loose threads for the narrative to play with and then abandon.
*Alley's psychic powers don't come into play in the second half of the movie (nor does her dead daughter) and it seems like a rather moot point for her to have them at all.
*The entire Chinese mysticism stuff that is brought up is never mentioned again.
*Why have Mr. Chen and his ancestors kept these apparently easily killable zombie around for all this time? AND Mr.Chen's body shows up at the morgue late in the movie, but NOTHING happens with it, it's not relevant at all.
*In regards to there being three zombies kids (Alley only sees one kid in her flashback to ancient China), at one point they talk about "one becomes two" or somesuch, but nothing comes of it and there is no further explanation. Which brings me to:
*Why does ingesting zombie flesh/goo turn them into GIANT monsters and not, you know, little slimy ones?
*As I said, Dana the attempted suicide is a strange way to introduce a love interest to the movie. I kept waiting for her to get zombified or something, but no. Nothing.
*Shepard is scratched or bitten on the leg and you wait for him to turn into a zombie, but he doesn't.
*I really don't know why there is an evidence room at the coroners office, let alone why it's stocked with a fully loaded machine gun and pipe bombs.
*Oh, and for no discernible reason, the movie is set during Thanksgiving.
Charley Varrick (1973).
Phyllis Diller is of course Phyllis Diller. Here's a clip of her telling jokes, looking crazy.
Final Thought: The Boneyard is more weird than anything and has a wildly inconsistent tone and a lot of it doesn't make any sense, but if there is a better giant poodle monster movie out there, I've yet to see it.