Case Number 16280: Small Claims Court


Lightning Media // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 1st, 2009

The Charge

"We're the skeleton crew!"

The Case

I don't want to divulge too much about what goes down here because there's a nifty little turn of events that happens a decent way into the first act so I'll try to speak in even vaguer terms than I usually do to avoid nuking the plot. It is a nice little twist.

Anyway, some folks make their way to a creepy old asylum in the middle of stormy night. Much to their chagrin, they discover that the proprietor of the asylum is actually a deranged doctor who's been building his own little snuff film collection by killing his patients and filming the violence. Fast forward a few years later (all this bad stuff went down in the '70s) and when a film crew shows up to shoot a movie based on these events, the evil crap resurfaces and yada yada yada more people die in gruesome fashion.

These deaths include: burned alive by stage lights, impaled with a spear, de-limbed on an operating table, power-drilled through the cranium and much, much more. The gore FX crew doesn't skimp on the blood gags, and that makes for one of the nastier little kill-o-ramas I've seen, well, this month. But that's noteworthy considering the volume of horror flicks that pass through my mitts each week.

In fact, this whole thing is a nice surprise. Going into it, I had my doubts saying to myself: "Well, this is looking to shape up like yet another nondescript, disposable slasher. Terrific. Hey what's for dinner, honey? Is that goulash? I'm not in a goulash mood. Any chance we have any haddock filets left over? I could really go for a homemade Fishwich? Yeah, with melted cheese. That would hit the spot!" But it wasn't long until I realized Skeleton Crew was going to be showing me something different and cool.

Well, not completely different. There are a lot of familiar elements at work here and you'll surely recognize the influences as the story unfolds, but it's all put together so well I'm willing to forgive the, shall we say, "homages." The top-shelf execution is what's welcome and the blending together of ideas is pulled off with a vicious efficiency. And the kills. Those are pretty sweet, too.

Skeleton Crew isn't the Alpha and Omega though. Some of the acting is suspect and if you're hoping for the mandatory horror movie T&A you'll be disappointed to learn that the filmmakers have mastered the art of Creative Breast Concealment, even during shower and love scenes. The big suspension-of-disbelief killer is question of how the main villain is able to set up so many complicated murder set-pieces in so little time.

The DVD is no-frills: a decent 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and a 2.0 stereo mix and that's it.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Bone puns wanted for this space.

Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Lightning Media
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb