The Boneyard (1991)


This is a zombie movie, though it’s not your traditional zombie movie. No, this one has a bit of Chinese mysticism thrown in, some grotesque little monsters, and finishes with a boss battle that could have been straight out of Dog Soldiers or other awesome werewolf movies. And it stars a very different type of hero than your typical action-packed gore extravaganza; instead of some super cops or reasonably attractive suburbians, the hero of The Boneyard is a heavyset psychic who has gotten tired of her life, along with an old cop who respects her and hates what he has to ask her to do but also hates seeing how she has basically entombed herself to escape the world, a rookie who is an absolute idiot at times but slowly manages to prove his own bravery and that he’s not just there due to nepotism, and a young woman who tried to commit suicide and got wheeled into the morgue despite still being alive. And they have to fight three creepy, gooey zombie kids in an old mortuary, as well as the people they manage to turn.

So what happened? Well it turns out that one of the head coroners had been keeping a family secret of keeping the zombie kids alive as part of two centuries of penance by feeding them human flesh. What’s he paying the penance for? Because one of his relatives made a bad monkey’s paw sort of mistake and asked for his kid to come back, and it happened Pet Semetary-style. But with the final member of the family line finally getting fed up with it in the modern day, the bodies get discovered, and the cops called in to investigate. And that’s how our heroes end up involved.

The Boneyard offers a few changes from traditional zombie lore: first, they’re killed by damaging the heart, not the brain. Second, they can only turn others into zombies by feeding parts of themselves to the victims, not vice versa. Three, they can turn animals. And when they turn someone, it isn’t a minor change either. Folks get big, get tough, and get mean. And then there’s what they do to that poodle. That poodle goes full beast mode, and it’s freaking beautiful. So what do our heroes do? The smart thing: patch up their wounded, arm themselves with whatever weapons they can find, and try to find a way to escape.

I like this movie, not only because it has cool and creepy monsters but because it shows relatively normal human beings (even if one is a psychic…she’s also a cancer survivor who experienced a miscarriage and suffers horrible depression) banding together to survive an extreme situation and helping to fend off both the physical and psychological scars they’re currently dealing with. The only one who doesn’t quite seem to fit is the rookie cop who’s kind of a meat head, but even he reveals he has something to prove and that he honestly does care and empathize, even when he cannot understand what others have gone through. It makes me care about the characters.  That fact, when combined with the totally awesome monsters, makes for a fun horror movie.

Plus you get to see a zombie kid impaled with a forklift. Now tell me, who doesn’t want to see that?

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