Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Short Film: Dead Man's Lake (UK, 2012)

Can you add a new twist to the old dead-teenager chestnut of annoying teens trespassing to camp out next to some distant lake and the terrible fate that awaits them? Ben Franklin, the co-writer and director and producer of this little live action short tries to — and succeeds.
This little bloody and nasty flick is the sixth in an on-going series of on-line horror shorts that make up the on-line anthology known as Bloody Cuts. It is being presented here as our Film of the Month for April not because it is the best of the Bloody Cuts shorts — there are others that are just as good or perhaps better — but because it is the first of the excellent horror shorts of the planned 13-episode anthology that we had the pleasure of stumbling upon.
The dry humor present in Dead Man's Lake brings to mind Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) but is a tad nastier and, in the end, the laughter sticks a lot more in your throat. Filmed entirely on location, Dead Man's Lake marks the directorial début of Ben Franklin, who (alongside Anthony Melton) usually fills the shoes of producer at Bloody Cuts. We here at A Wasted Life say "Well done, mate!" — but then, we would say that to all the directors of all the shorts we've watched on their website.
Based on an "original story" by Joel Morgan, the gory little tale has a small cast but plenty of violence once the time-worn situation of two horny campers and a redundant third wheel is set. And like so many of the classic slasher flicks that Dead Man's Lake casts its post-modern eye upon, the short is "Based on true events" (this time around, those that supposedly "took place in 1984, in Norfolk, England..."). 
On hand for the mayhem are Nick the Stud (James Powell of Resurrecting the Street Walker [2009 / trailer]), Grace the Babe (Caroline Haines of Black Tower Temptation [2009 / trailer]), Pete the Annoying Third Wheel (Lewis Osborne), Maya the Tragic (Sarah Jane Honeywell of The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead [2012 / trailer]) and, last but not least, Will the Wildman (Jon Campling of Tales of the Supernatural [2013 / trailer], The Zombie King [2013 / German trailer], Zombie Massacre [2012 / trailer] and Penetration Angst [2003 / trailer]).

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dirty War (Spain, 1984)

(Spoilers.) Aka Guerra sucia and Schmutziger Krieg
We pulled this DVD out of our "DVDs from Hell" pile: a (much too high) pile of cheap DVDs that we have no idea how they ever even got in our possession. Many we simply and literally found, others were given to us by people who know our penchant for crappy flicks, while some seem to have materialized from nowhere. Like this one. War films aren't exactly our thing, and the DVD's title pretty much implies that the film would be one. In any event, we pulled it out of the pile simply 'cause we were in the rare mood for anything but a horror flick, as the last couple of horror flicks we'd seen were such disappointments we wanted a genre break. And what do you know: the film was a pleasant surprise.
Which isn't to say Dirty War is any good. It's a crappy, trashy piece of shit, actually. But not only is it not a war film, but it is also a wonderfully entertaining piece of flotsam that occasionally verges on surrealism. It kept us giggling till the end. Later, when we had the chance to do a little Internet research on this unknown and little-seen movie, we were less surprised to find out that Cannon once released the film in US grindhouses than we were to discover that hiding behind the director's pseudonym "Alfredo Casado" is no one less than the great Juan Piquer Simón, the auteur of directorial incompetence who made that craptastic classic of horror, Slugs: The Movie (1988) — which was actually Simón's follow-up project to this one. Suddenly, the enjoyable unprofessionalism and scatter-shot approach found in Dirty War made total sense.
Dirty War opens with the film's manly hero Paul (Pierre Oudry of Village Girls [1975 / sex scene] and Saint-Tropez Vice [1987 / trailer]) and some broad (Lone Fleming of The Possessed [1975 / full film in Spanish], Evil Eye (1975 / soundtrack),  Return of the Evil Dead [1973 / trailer], It Happened at Nightmare Inn [1973 / full film] and Tombs of the Blind Dead [1972 / trailer]), the latter of whom we later learn is the secretary to the  big bad guy, poking their heads out from under a bed where, in the middle of a war zone, they've been having some afternoon delight. He expresses his dreams, she talks him into working for her boss, and then we cut to a few scenes of Paul as an international man of mystery blowing up some refinery — a scene that looks like the worst of any Roger Moore James Bond climactic shootout scene but reshot using paper-mâché sets — and saving Pope John Paul II from being assassinated by assassinating the assassins.
The first ten minutes of the movie, like the whole film, jumps all over the globe between Africa, Europe (Madrid, Milan and Munich) and the USA. In the US, Paul uses a European payphone and in Europe, he has an old US pushbutton phone in his chic Munich apartment (and, oddly enough, has the same green vintage-70s kitchen that we have in real life — we bought ours on eBay). The film hops around so much that it gives the impression of being shot to accommodate the given location where the actors might be at any given time, or that the events were written around the given stock footage available (like that of the Pope in his Popemobile) and the exterior shots of the given cities.
Things don't change much in this regard after Paul, tired of his violent life, wants out. As to be expected, it ain't easy to leave the organization. Paul's boss, Mr Fox (Mariano Vidal Molina of El aullido del diablo (1987 / soundtrack), The Devil's Possessed (1974 / trailer), Una libélula para cada muerto (1974 / trailer), The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973 / full film), Curse of the Devil (1973 / trailer), Scream of the Demon Lover (1970 / trailer) and El vampiro negro (1953 / first 40 minutes in Spanish), refuses to let him leave and applies pressure by having his heavies kill Paul's tasty one night stand (Alicia Príncipe of the Jess Franco films ¿Cuánto cobra un espía? [1984], Amazons in the Temple of Gold [1986] and Night of 1,000 Sexes [1984]) and, we originally think, his girlfriend Virginia (Carol Fulijames of Beaks: The Movie [1987 / fan trailer] and The Sea Serpent [1984 / Spanish trailer]). Luckily for Paul, however, the dead nude on the floor at his gal's pad is actually a visiting friend of Virginia. To save Virginia's perky breasts, Paul sends her off to NYC to stay with some Afro-American friends of his (Bob and Annie, the latter of whom is SEXY!) and then he joins Mr. Fox's next job, the robbery of uranium...
In the course of the film we get, among other fun stuff, a hilarious car chase between a VW bug and a rent-a-wreck, an exploding house that kills the Afro-American dude, and a wonderful shootout between the bad guys and a helicopter that ends up with an exploding boat. A true highpoint is without doubt the "daring" robbery of the uranium that is, for some inexplicable reason, shot at a sped-up speed and in which, just as inexplicably, all the guns sound like rayguns when shot. And then, to round the film off, we finally get to see Paul do the logical thing that he should have done at the very beginning of the film: rub Mr Fox out — an act that would have saved him a lot of trouble, not to mention the lives of friends and casual fucks, had he only done it 15 minutes into the film instead of waiting, for some unknown reason, until the end.
The events and plot of Dirty War are under-developed and badly executed, but for that the movie moves at a quick enough pace and shows a lot of delectable naked skin — the latter in almost ironic excess, as in the long stripper scene that precedes the delivery of some documents, a scene so gratuitous that it becomes laughable (Paul seems to find it funny, too, as he looks as if he's having a hard time not laughing). The death of Paul's Afro-American friend Bob, who suffers some of the worst dialogue imaginable, is also entertaining in its idiocy: Paul cold have just as easily shot the bad guy and then helped Bob escape instead of high-tailing and leaving his pal to blow up himself and the gunman. And let's not forget the car chase with its exploding rent-a-wreck and VW with automatically re-inflating tire or, for that matter, an earlier chase scene in which Paul runs back and forth to get away from the car driven by Mr. Fox's nastiest minion, Bruno (the recently departed Frank Braña [24 February 1934 – 13 February 2012] of La mansión de los Cthulhu [1992 / trailer], The Rift [1990 / trailer], Pieces [1982 / trailer], Hannah, Queen of the Vampires [1973 / trailer], The Butcher of Binbrook [1971 / trailer], The House That Screamed [1969 / trailer] and Django Kill... If You Live, Shoot! [1967 / trailer]).
Those are but few of the many visual and narrative tidbits of dilettantism that help make Dirty War enjoyable in that special, unexplainable way that director Juan Piquer Simón was such a master of. Yep, the movie might not be exciting or thrilling or suspenseful in any way, but it is fun in its own stupid way and we recommend it heartily — though we must also admit, in all honesty, it isn't quite as superlatively ding-batty as Slugs: The Movie.
One really wonders how any of the actors involved with Dirty War could keep a straight face while the movie was being made...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jeepers Creepers (USA, 2001)


Aside from the yellow press infamy that he gained with the revelation in 1995 that he had regular sexual relations with a twelve-year-old boy in 1988, Victor Salva has also gained a reputation for making effective (?), low budget genre films which tend to follow but stretch the traditional rules and plots. "Atmospheric and macabre, with no happy endings but not to be taken totally seriously" is how Salva himself describes his work, and indeed, his films are sometimes exactly so, though he might have also added a reference to his preference for rural or secluded settings. 
His first film, Clownhouse (1988 / trailer), has a few kids alone in a house fighting off crazed clowns; The Nature of the Beast (1995 / trailer) is an enjoyable version of Joe Schmoe with a secret confronted with a psycho hitchhiker; Powder (1995) tells a pretentious tale of the discovery of a strange country boy with supernatural powers who grew up locked in his Dad's basement; and Rites of Passage (1999 / trailer) is a father-sons melodrama cum thriller with a few killers thrown in for good measure. For Jeepers Creepers, Salva decided to tackle the genre of teen horror and came up with an odd, supernatural genre-crossing mixture of Duel (1971 / trailer) and The Hitcher  (1986), peppered with a small homage to the police station scene in The Terminator (1984 / trailer).
Jeepers Creepers proved to be a big success at both the box office and with a few odd critics, though this fact probably has more to say about how easily the public is satisfied than it does have anything to say about the quality of the movie. The fact is, Jeepers Creepers is far from an interesting film and is much more a road-kill of a movie, a dull mishmash, a horror gumbo soup full of bad and good ideas, none of which combine effectively; the final result is simply a generic 1½ hour "horror" movie that gets on your nerves more than it does scare or involve. 
The opening scene already lets you know that there isn't even a chance for a gratuitous nude scene, as it is quickly revealed that Darry (Justin Long of Drag Me to Hell [2009 / trailer]) and Trish (Gina Philips of Dead & Breakfast [2004] and The Sick House [2008]) are siblings on their way home to visit their Mom. The introductory dialogue has been praised by some misguided souls as being both insightful and intelligent, but in truth it is simply annoying. (Of course, one could say that since the verbal interaction between most siblings tends to be annoying, the dialogue is indeed insightful and, if not intelligent, then at least realistic.) 
In any event, while driving the rural, scenic route home — something one learned at the latest not to do since Children of the Corn (1984 / trailer) — they get run off the road by some nutcase in an old truck. Soon after they not only see the big, scary guy dump what looks to be a body wrapped in a bloody white sheet down a drain pipe but also get run off the road by the nutcase a second time. Do they go to the police? Of course not, that would be much too an intelligent thing to do. Instead, as Trish so self-referentially puts it: "You know the bit in the horror movies where someone does something really stupid, and everyone hates him for it? This is it." Not only do they go back, but under the most ridiculous and contrived actions, Darry goes sliding down the pipe into nothing less than hell-on-earth and the movie soon falls apart and we hate him and everyone else for it.
True, the secret "haven" is indeed both macabre and horrific, which should be a great way to segue the movie into the supernatural, but the idiocy leading up to the revelation takes all the effectiveness from the twist. And worse, after the sudden transition into horror, the idiocy doesn't stop. In no short time, Salva resorts to the cheapest of all ideas: the character who has no reason to be in the film other than to tell the stuff needed to keep the plot going. In this case, it's Jezelle Gay (Patricia Belcher), a local Afro-American mamma who "sees things," an ineffective one-note character given an ineffective one-note performance. The rest of the film until its rather abrupt end has everyone running from the Creeper (Jonathan Breck of Spiders [2000 / trailer]), a big guy in a rubber suit who has wings and can not only fly, but can crawl along walls like Spider-man, too.
Actually, it is rather a shame that Jeepers Creepers is such a lousy film, for the basic idea is solid: what seems to be a rural serial killer turns out to be an unstoppable beast from hell. Regrettably, Salva, who likes to both write and direct his movies, is much too sloppy a scriptwriter this time around to carry the idea through effectively. An unstoppable, flying demon that drives around in an old truck? A monster whose demonic actions are always foreboded by the 1938 tune of Jeepers Creepers? (What did it do before the song was written, we wonder — or, for that matter, before radios were invented?) And how the hell did it collect all those dead bodies if it only appears for 23 days every 23 years? OK, true: since 1938 he would have had two "harvests" — but in all those years, no other idiot ever discovered his easily accessed underground haven? (The whole idea of it appearing every 23 years is quickly forgotten anyway, for it conflicts much too much with too many aspects of the story. In fact, it is such an albatross one wonders why it was brought up in the first place.) For that matter, how can everyone act so normal at the end of the film, as if cop-killing flying demons that lay waste to police stations and kidnap college students are part of everyday life? (Where the fuck is Hard Copy and 60 Minutes — or at least Fox News and the National Enquirer?)

Jeepers Creepers — original version of the song by Louis Armstrong, not used in the film:

Hell, the problem with Jeepers Creepers is that unlike effective horror films, it features so many holes in the plot and logic that the viewer is unable to simply let go and go with the flow. Instead of being frightened or kept in suspense by what is happening, one is constantly annoyed that the script once again blatantly demands you to turn off your brain. As a result, the film never becomes even remotely scary after the scene in the demon's lair. That the movie became such a hit is truly beyond comprehension, especially since it lacks any all of the sleaze factors that make most equally illogical trash films so enjoyable. 
Oh horrors of all horrors! They made sequel in 2003 (trailer)… and Part III, entitled Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral, (trailer) is even on the way — with threats of Parts IV and V even hanging in the air! (Oh well, they surely can't be any worse than part one.)

Starting at 1:12 — the much superior B&W Jeepers Creepers short that inspired Salva's film:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Demoniac (French, 1975)

This Jess Franco flick, like most of the dearly departed director's films, is available under assorted names (for example, L'éventreur de Notre-Dame and/or Exorcism) and versions; Demoniac is the cut that was made for the American audience, in as much as there ever was an American audience for a Jess Franco movie. At our weekly bad film night, we ended up screening it more or less by fluke: tired of watching disappointing recent big budget crap — Prometheus (2012 / trailer), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012 / trailer) and John Carter of Mars (2012 / trailer) being the last three films we had the displeasure of watching — the desire was expressed by one of the group for some good ol' low budget Eurotrash. Whereupon this flick, the only Franco film in our pile of still-unscreened trash DVDs, was popped into the player and our eyeballs were raped as selected massive groans and snorts of derision often drowned out the extremely stilted dialogue. Most of the group that evening was not exactly all that much more pleased by the film that unfolded than they were by the Hollywood crap of the weeks before.
Unlike our compatriots that evening, however, we here of A Wasted Life — although of the opinion that not only is Demoniac one of those rare films that screams to be remade but that indeed any attempt to do so would probably be an improvement — actually rather liked the film. Still, we would be hard pressed to bother watching either the longer version now easily available or the hardcore version supposedly circulating somewhere out there in the big, bad world. Sometimes, no matter what Jacqueline Susann may have said, once is enough.
Actually, seeing how un-erotic the sex scenes are, and how ugly most of the players are — some of the women are passable, but the men are uniformly repulsive, and not just due to bad 70s polyester Euro-fashion — the concept of a hardcore version of the film is somewhat nauseating. Oddly enough, however, though the Demoniac-entitled version is said to be heavily edited, our Dutch (English-language) DVD nevertheless included a massive amount of nudity and bush as well as the oft-missing knifing scene in which the blonde and curly-haired Countess (France Nicolas) has her entrails pulled from the initially overly vaginal-shaped slit cut into her stomach.
According to imdb, Demoniac required a full four people to write, including Marius Lesoeur (as "A.L. Mariaux"), one of the owners Eurociné, the famed craptastic French production company that brought us this baby here as well as many other unique cinematic specimens like Zombie Lake (1981) and Oasis of the Zombies (1982). For that, the film looks, sounds, feels like 100% Jess Franco — which, depending on one's proclivities, can be taken as either a reason to watch the film or a reason to avoid it like the plague.
Cheaply made, poorly acted, atrociously dubbed, occasionally almost narratively incoherent and so languidly paced that one could almost call the film lethargic, Demoniac is likewise enjoyably sleazy and often oddly mesmerizing. It is also often rather funny, though all the humor is obviously unintentional: Franco was trying hard to make a serious film, if not an art film, and while he succeeds in snippets the overall product stands out far more as further evidence of his lackadaisical disposition and general disregard for logic or continuity — Is that at all surprising? — and total independence as a filmmaker, one who makes what he wants and is not subject to the lowly tastes and generic expectations of the masses.
More so than in many of his films, however, the voyeuristic tendencies of the director come to the forefront in Demoniac. Aside from the fact that the main character, the insane and homicidal defrocked priest Mathis Vogel (played by the director himself), spends more of his time watching others having sex or doing nasty things than he does do anything else (other than murder, perhaps), the camerawork is almost obsessive in its focused attention on the sordid sex scenes that are far less erotic in any way than oddly illicit. Often, the viewer almost ends up feeling like a peeping Tom spying on the cellulite-heavy next-door neighbor having sex with the ugly guy with the bad toupee from down the street. And like a true voyeuristic eye, the camera sometimes remains focused on the soft-core fleshy action much longer than it really should — especially seeing that the real horror of this horror film is all the un-attractive European Joe and Jane Schmoes that get naked. In this regard, the film has two highpoints: an orgy scene that is as repulsive as it is unconvincing, and an intriguingly filmed stabbing death of one woman shot from a vantage point that literally fixes the viewer's gaze on her naked posterior. (Had Franco placed the camera closer and a bit to the right, it would have been an extended brown-eye and camel-toe shot.)
The plot of Demoniac involves the homicidal actions of the previously mentioned defrocked priest within the circles of the decidedly jaded and decadent Parisian upper-crust and its hanger-ons, a circle that Franco has cast his eye upon in many a film, including his far less flesh-heavy but more infamous and surreal film Succubus (1968) in which, as is the case with Demoniac and many another Franco film, such as the jaw-dropper Vampiros Lesbos (1971 / trailer / soundtrack / full film in German), arty S&M performances are essential to the narrative. And, as is typical of many Franco films, Demoniac even opens with one such never-ending S&M performance, this time one in which a young, nude and tied-to-a-cross Anne (a young Lina Romay — easily the most attractive person in the whole movie) is tortured and smeared with dove blood by Martine (Catherine Lafferière). Such performances, under the guise of "Black Masses", are held at regular intervals throughout the film and seem to function as a form of visual Viagra for the listless and degenerate well-heeled Parisians. Unluckily, the former priest and escaped mental patient Vogel, who writes "factual" S&M stories for Venus Magazine, the publisher of which (Pierre Taylou as "Pierre de Franval") also runs the nightclub where the masses are held, takes the Black Masses as the real thing and decides to save the souls of various participants by torturing and killing them. (Being an obvious hetero, he might kill an occasional man but he never tortures one.) Along the way, he also falls in love with Anne...
Now that is indeed the perfect narrative for some prime grindhouse sleaze, or? And Franco takes full advantage of it to find continual grounds for yet another gratuitous sex scene or more casual nakedness — interspersed with an occasional scene of flagellation and/or torture and murder as behooves a film about a mad priest who obviously prefers sticking a knife into women more than sticking his weenie. When it comes to verbal exposition, Franco's acting is on par with that of almost everyone else in the film (as in — with the exception of Romay — "miserable"), but when needed he does exude a highly effective greasy depravity that fits both his character and the overall aura of the film like a silken glove. For all Vogel's protestations about saving souls and releasing the devil, there is little doubt that more than anything else he is simply getting his rocks off.
As is often the case with Franco's films, the soundtrack, by his long-time musical collaborator Daniel White and, supposedly, Andre "Jazz Guitar Bach" Benichou, swerves back and forth between totally insipid to truly inspired — but always perfect for the movie. Demoniac does sort of lose steam towards the end, less due to the narrative than the increasingly weak direction and filmic laziness. About the point when Vogel commits his last murder and the publisher runs after Vogel and out of the blue has a fur coat suddenly hanging over his arm, the film suddenly begins to seem oddly rushed. Of no help in this regard is the final, unbelievably incompetent car-chase scene that is literally a sleeping pill and a resolution, complete with a cap gun, that is incoherently staged.
Sleazy and stupid, languid and arty, sordid and inspired, Demoniac is hardly the worst of Franco's films; be what it may, it could well be one of his better ones — but as is the case with all his films, the terms "good" and "bad" are as relative as they are irrelevant. If you are one of the many who has never seen a Franco film that you have liked, it is doubtful that you will like this one. In turn, if you like the films of his that you have seen to date, you probably will like this one. And if you are a newbie, an innocent, a virgin amongst the living dead that make up the masses of this earth — well, there are worse (and better) Franco films to start with than Demoniac. Who knows, you might actually like it. We did. And it is truly sad to think that as of 2 April 2013, the great Outsider filmmaker of Europe (if not the world) will never make another film again.
But really, someone else should do a remake of this flick...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Skeleton Man (USA, 2004)

Filmed under the title Cottonmouth Joe, this little Nu Image flick was originally made for and aired on the Sci Fi Channel, but it has since somehow found its way onto DVD. It is to date (5 April 2013) the only film directed by Johnny Martin, a well-employed stuntman who has worked in the industry for decades, occasionally even appearing as a glorified extra in films such as Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988 / trailer) or Dead & Breakfast (2004 / trailer). Martin — or at least his production company Martini Films — has also acted as producer on an indeterminate amount of low budget films ranging from science-fiction-tinged horror like Larva [2005 / trailer] to many of Cuba Gooding's straight-to-DVD thrillers like End Game (2004 / trailer) or The Hit List [2011 / trailer]. We would be hard pressed not to think that Martin has only ever directed this one film because either he or those with the financing realized in retrospect that his talents definitely lie elsewhere. 
We also have no doubts that this film was intended as a serious film, as Martin's experience with ironic comedy is virtually non-existent (he had at that time only previously produced one "real" comedy, the unknown Joe Killionaire [2004]). True, Skeleton Man's scriptwriter Frederick Bailey has a limited career in comedy — he's never written one intentionally but has appeared in some, such as Roger Corman's Gas-s-s-s (1970 / trailer) — but his extensive writing and directorial output has primarily been in the field of "serious" low-budget exploitation and trash, where he has helped foist an admirable number of unknown, sometimes awe-inspiring films such as Wheels of Fire (1985 / trailer), Demon of Paradise (1987 / trailer), Equalizer 2000 (1987 / trailer) Demonstone (1990 / scene), Raiders of the Sun (1992 / trailer) and Terminal Justice (1996 / trailer), among others. All serious stuff, in any event, definitely intended for Academy consideration... 
No, Skeleton Man was definitely not intended as a comedy, but serendipity made it one: the combination of Martin's total lack of directorial acumen, Bailey's penchant for banal and cliché-ridden plot and dialogue, a cast of slumming mildly talented actors and untalented actresses, a total lack of professional effects,* and editing that looks as if the editor was busy elsewhere while he cut the film have jelled in such a way that the final product, the film now known as Skeleton Man, is not just absolutely terrible but truly and surreally bad in that special way that makes the final product an unearthly and unique film of Ed Woodian proportions. Indeed, the DVD company that released the film in Germany even realized that and proclaimed it loudly on their DVD release, where they write in large letters "Hier lebt der Geist von Ed Wood weiter!" ("The Spirit of Ed Wood Lives On!").** And it is true: Skeleton Man literally drips the spirit of Ed Wood — much more so than it does drip blood, and it is (in theory, anyway) a violent film. 
If we followed the plot correctly — the film isn't exactly edited to make sense — the movie is a regurgitation of the core plot of Predator (1987 / Arnie sings) but with a few slight changes: in this case here, the predator hunting everyone down is the Skeleton Man (aka Cottonmouth Joe [Dominique Vandenberg, also seen somewhere in Barb Wire (1996 / trailer)]), a supernatural American Indian who, centuries ago, went postal during an Indian wedding ceremony and massacred his entire tribe. Re-awoken by some archaeologists who dig up the wedding site, he is now an unstoppable skull-headed dude wearing a big black cape — needless to say, fashions have changed a lot since the day of the loincloth. He basically just goes around killing anyone who invades his space, although he also seems to have a penchant for indiscriminately entering industrial compounds and slaughtering the workers there, too. For some odd reason he sees people in Predator-vision, so you can run but you can't hide — not that running does much good, 'cause he and his magic horse can also jump time and space.
What should be a great idea — namely, replacing most of the ugly macho men of the Predator-inspired "Delta Team" sent in to investigate with young, beautiful and totally bonkable babes — adds to the overall idiocy of the events, for not one of the gals looks their part. To our displeasure, and unlike in the better grindhouse films that Bailey once wrote (see the trailers of Wheels of Fire and Demon of Paradise), none of the babes ever take their tops off and let their true natural talents swing freely. Oh, well. (The personal physical preference of whoever chose the female cast — one assumes the director himself — is extremely evident in that all the girls have the exact same body type... although we did note that the final girl [Sarah Ann Schultz of Wolvesbayne (2009 / trailer)] is the only blonde and also has a centimeter or two more up top. Thus, in her case we can truly talk of "survival of the tittiest".) 
For all their covered physical charms and attractiveness, the gals don't seem to be capable of doing more than frown a lot and recite their lines woodenly and display all the thespian restraint of, dunno, Mantan Mooreland (of King of the Zombies [1941 / full film], Spider Baby [1968 / trailer] and The Young Nurses [1973 / trailer]). Oddly enough, when it comes to thespian abilities, neither Casper Van Dien (of The Tracker [2000]) nor Michael Rooker (of Slither [2006 / trailer] and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer [1986 / trailer]), the ostensible name actors in the movie, prove themselves any more capable than the gals. But then, they probably — one hopes — knew what junk they were in and simply couldn't be bothered to try to do a professional job. 
Van Dien, at least, is out of the scene rather quickly: for no apparent reason he suddenly steals a truck and crashes it and dies. Seriously. It is an event that, like most of what happens in the movie, makes absolutely no sense in the context of the plot. But then, much like the progression of events in, say, Bride of the Atom (1955 / trailer / full movie) or Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959 / trailer / full film), little of the narrative or events in Skeleton Man seems to follow any sensible logic, with the film instead opting for a dreamy non-logic in which no matter how stupid or crazy anything is, everyone treats it as if it's as normal as taking a pee after drinking a 6-pack. 
The result is a film full of laughable high points, too many to list here. We ourselves, however, particularly like the scene in which Skeleton Man shoots a fisherman from behind but hits him in the chest; the fisherman, who was of course fishing from the top of a waterfall, then tumbles down through the air with all the natural stiffness of a mannequin (because the way that the "fisherman's body" twists as it falls indicates that the only thing keeping the upper and lower parts of the mannequin together is the clothing, the scene promptly brings to mind the infamous one in Dr. Butcher M.D.  [1980] in which the fallen body/mannequin loses an arm). We also found the scene in which Skeleton Man takes down a helicopter with a bow and arrow entertaining, though we also think it's time that Joss Wheadon finally admit that he cribbed the idea here for his movie The Avengers [2012 / trailer] in which, as you might remember, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) takes down the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-quarters with a bow and arrow. 
This film is, for all those involved, what Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966 / trailer) was for John Carradine: the deepest point of their careers, no matter how "nada" their careers might be. Thus, of course, it cannot in any way be denied that Skeleton Man is a terrible film — but nevertheless, we rather enjoyed it and recommend it heartily to anyone who truly likes watching the unbelievably dreadful, the ridiculously amateurish, the downright idiotic, the jaw-droppingly craptastic.
Everyone else should avoid it like the STDs...
* Wikipedia is right on the mark when they point out that the notable special effects of the movie is that "Cottonmouth Joe's horse changes from a tan Arabian to a black Clydesdale during attack sequences." 
**They take it all a step further on the back cover by actually lining out the names of the actors involved, followed by the notation "Die Schauspieler möchten unbekannt bleiben" ("The actors want to remain unknown").

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