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Sci-Fi Channel Premiere: Skeleton Man Review

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Credit has to be given to actors and/or actresses who star in a movie like this. To get through even a short shoot without cracking a smile has to be brutal. No one in their right mind could take a movie like this seriously. It doesn’t even matter how old you are. This insipid piece of work is, almost without question, the worst thing to happen to the Sci-Fi Channel since Farscape fans started writing hate mail.

During an ancient Indian ritual, one of their own goes crazy, killing everyone in their tribe. Brought back to life after researchers dug up their burial site, Cottonmouth Joe (AKA the Skeleton Man) begins a killing spree. After slaughtering two special ops in training, a full crew is sent in to figure out what’s going on and to put a stop to it.

It doesn’t take long to figure out that “Skeleton Man” ranks down there (or is it up there?) on your personal “worst all time” movie list. See, this Skeleton Man is actually some guy wrapped up in a garbage bag (they probably didn’t even splurge and get Glad bags either) riding around on horse back through what is supposed to be a secluded forest. His face is a skull, likely one picked up at a local Wal-Mart during the Halloween season. He manages to slaughter nearly every member on a trained Delta Force team with no problem, take down a helicopter with a single wooden arrow (really), and come back to life with a shiny new axe in tow.

It’s not just the problems with our Skeleton friend that makes this movie so unbearably bad. It also doesn’t make a lick of sense. For instance, Casper Van Dien follows the bony guy out of the forest onto a desolate road. Conveniently, a truck driver gets out of a cab right where they happen to be exiting. Van Dien gets in for no apparent reason whatsoever, goes all of 15 feet, then slams on the brakes to avoid an oncoming car and the tank on the back blows up. Huh?

But wait fellow readers, there’s more entertainment to be had. You simply have to break down into a fit of laughter when the old Indian sitting in the middle of nowhere asks the troops for beans. Of course, he doesn’t like their beans because they’re “army beans.” Skeleton man, being the highly efficient killer he is, decides to stay away from them while the wise old Indian tells his story of how Cottonmouth Joe (where that name comes from, well, no one has a clue) came to be. How he actually came back to life to begin this rampage is never explained.

It’s still not over yet. It’s very easy to imagine a crack team of writers sitting down at a table coming up with this stuff, thinking about the poor jackasses who are going to sit down and watch this. See, though the entire movie takes place in a forest, about ten minutes before the big finale, Skeleton Man must’ve gotten tired of killing people in the trees. With one simple cut of film, we end up inside a chemical plant. It stays in tune with the movie (as in “nothing in this film makes sense”) and that remains the only logical explanation.

Still want more? How about that garbage bag that’s supposed to be a cape? It manages to become all tattered in one scene then completely restores itself to the original shine without a single scratch in the next. This happens say, oh, around twenty times. This Delta Force group comes into a life or death struggle without even so much as a walkie-talkie or any other form of communication. Finally, as far as we know, good ol’ Cottonmouth could just be one of those novelty skeletons inter-cut with footage of a real hand. You’d never know the difference and it doesn’t make the movie any more digestible either way.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • Nick Jones

    You must be looking forward to Sci Fi’s next production, Mansquito.

    Sci Fi’s movies are even lamer (have you seen Boa?) than the latter-day Outer Limits that premiered on Showtime; the title sequence of the original show was scarier than an entire season of the later series.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Credit has to be given to actors and/or actresses who star in a movie like this. To get through even a short shoot without cracking a smile has to be brutal.<<

    I believe that Michael Rooker has a physical deformity which actually makes it impossible for him to crack a smile – putting him in high demand for this sort of film. Rather in the tradition of Richard Lynch, whose burn scars rendered his face immobile, thereby stopping him from grimacing at the bad lines he was reading.

    Dave

  • http://mattschafer.blogspot.com Matt Schafer

    This is the problem that keeps holding Sci-Fi back, for every great series like Battle Star Galatica or Farscape we get crap like this.

    And people wonder why we’re not taken seriously as a genre

  • Bob

    I happened to be part of the unfortunate crew on this movie. Shooting this in (Gasp) 10 days was bad enough.. but when the producers decided to shoot it during the daytime, we knew we were in trouble with the story. When editing, it also came up short for time… we had about 70 min of a 88 min movie. Rather than doing reshoots to complete the story in the woods, production moved to a chemical plant in Bulgaria for no reason other than the fact that it’s cheaper to shoot there. Blame for this movie being so bad is entirely on the shoulders of producer and new director Johnny Martin. Every decision he and is partners made contributed to the demise of what started off as a not too terrible movie

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    So then how did they finish him off in the 70-min cut? Is this why the entire thing seems pieced together?