The Boneyard (1991)
A Killer What?
A Poodle, but temper your expectations because this isn’t a killer poodle movie. For the most part this is a supernatural zombie movie involving some sort of ancient Chinese ghouls that feed on human flesh but late in the movie they infect Phyllis Diller’s character and turn her into a giant mutant zombie creature rivaling Vera Cosgrove in Dead-Alive and Diller’s character’s dog eats some of one’s remains turning into a giant poodle monster but the poodle doesn’t come in until the last 10 minutes of the movie, literally eliciting laughter from one of the characters.
Is It Any God?
It’s great! A psychic who has helped the police find the bodies of children in the past (a thing which has weighed heavily on her mind) is called in to help identify three bodies held by a mortician who had apparently been feeding them pieces of cadavers. When she goes in to see the bodies she finds out that the children are actually ancient Chinese ghouls who the moritcian’s family have been feeding for centuries to keep them from killing people. The bodies rise while a group of people are trapped in the basement of the coroner’s office and all Hell breaks loose. Later there’s a mutant poodle monster.
This movie needs to be more well-known than it is. And I think I know the reasons it’s not better known and it all comes down to marketing. If you are aware of The Boneyard then you probably know it as “the Phyllis Diller poodle monster movie” and that’s because the poodle made the cover. It’s got a killer poodle, it’s got Phyllis Diller and Norman Fell, Diller’s character is named Poopenplatz, it’s from the ‘90s this is probably some forgettable turd like Ed and His Dead Mother (a movie that manages to rip off the plot of Dead-Alive and feature a cast of Steve Buscemi, Ned Beatty, John Gries, and John Glover and STILL fails.) That poodle was an albatross around this movie’s neck.
Because despite the goofiness of that particular monster and the presence of two comedy legends this movie is not even the slightest bit comedic. In fact this is a grim and at times very upsetting movie. Sure the monster make-up and the action are fun but the plot and characters aren’t, the poodle is acknowledged as silly by the characters but works in its own right as a weird moment at the end of the movie, not as the movie’s selling point.
In a better world The Boneyard would be in the canon of great zombie movies that have a hook other than copying George A. Romero along with the Evil Dead, Phantasm, and Re-Animator series’ as well as one-offs like Dead-Alive, Slither, Night of the Creeps, and Cemetery Man. This movie deserves to be on your shelf!
Watch, Toss, or Buy?
Buy it, there’s a blu-ray out from Kino Lorber.