Guess what everyone! Kim Henkel has written and produced a new film. And further guess what! It sucks. You may know the name of Kim Henkel as co-writer of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Or you may be one of the 99% of the people out there who scratches their head and mumbles "who the hell is Kim Henkel!", like I did. He went on to do nothing much else to speak of over the next few decades of his career but that is still something cool to have on your horror movie resume, that you helped Tobe Hooper create one of the greatest -and one of the most ripped off- horror movies of all time. And at the end of the day I am a fan of the TCM franchise in general. I can’t say they are all great films but I definitely look forward to a new installment. Henkel was also the writer on the okay TCM: The Next Generation from 1994, but really I do not see why the name Kim Henkel would be any sort of real endorsement of any film being made in 2012. Nor would I see why the names of directors Duane Graves and Justin Meeks would turn any heads, but the reviews of the film The Bone Boys (the few ones favorable I read which I highly suspect are being written by people associated with the project or had to sit through a free screener of the film and feel driven out of guilt and a desire for more free screeners) seem to heap praise after praise on these guys. Meeks directed some indie horror film called The Wild Man of the Navidad I have wanted to see but which I cannot get my hands on but will once Cinemageddon has another free leech period. It is “praised” by the indie crowd but the stills do not even look that great really, but it is a “bigfoot” type movie so I want to check it out.
Before going into this chunk of drek I want to say one thing about Tobe Hooper, which maybe I have said here before or tried to. I sure don’t like all of his films but to be quite honest I think he did better work than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Arggh! The heresy some are screaming now! But every time the poor bastard does a new film it gets compared to TCM and then shot to bits. “When will Hooper do another classic like TCM!” Well I have long felt that the original TCM was a great little low budget film. It works for me, but it is hardly the only thing Hooper ever did worth watching. I feel Lifeforce, and Invaders from Mars and even films like The Funhouse and Eaten Alive are decent little horror films and cuts above what others are doing. And his one return to the TCM franchise –The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2- was met with bitter reviews as well, though I kind of liked that one myself. So, what I am trying to say to all the “Hooper’s only good film was the original TCM” is “fucking get over it geeky fan boy!”.
And why all the chit chat here about TCM anyway? Well because Kim Henkel is none too ashamed to exploit that film here in The Bone Boys/The Butcher Boys. The references are all but in your face and that is okay since so many hillbilly slasher films pay homage (a euphemism for blatantly ripping off something better) to the original TCM. And if you were co-writer of the original film then surely you would have some right to do that in your new screenplay. I guess. Might have more credibility if you had tried to do something else in the nearly four decades prior, but lets over look that for now I guess. But the goddamned tagline for the flick is “The 'spiritual sequel' to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. So rather than the film containing clever little references to TCM in a tribute sort of fashion it is blatantly exploiting the first film in a cheap way. And well, that annoys me. The film follows a group of teens, led by Sissy (genuine Texas girl Ali Faulkner) around the back streets of the still wild and wooly San Antonio Texas (where I lived for about fifteen years of my life, and where, long with locations in Austin, the film was shot) where they run afoul of a gang of white guys in leather jackets and greasy hair that resemble something more out of an S.E. Hinton novel than a gang you would actually see in the run down warehouse districts of San Antonio. Or any other city in North America. Or the world for that matter. The local macho Mexican gangs and even the hard boiled drug cartel savvy San “Antone” cops fear these guys and let them do as they wish. Which is utterly unbelievable. In the end the gang is just some guys with knives and guns and the fact that they evoke such terror in the gangs and cops hastens the film on its downward spiral into scene by scene disbelief and irritation. I am sure if you were a young person of 18 or 20 and have only seen a few such films this thing may strike you as wild and crazy and too much to endure. Maybe this "roller coaster ride" will take your breath away. But if you’re a jaded old movie fart like myself you will find yourself rolling your eyes up in annoyance more than covering them in fright.
The gang makes quick work of Sissy’s pussy brother and other wimpy friends after another group of teens chasing them hits one of the guy’s dog causing the Bone Boys to pursue poor Sissy and crew. You know where you are headed when you watch the terrified teens running as fast as they can from the slow walking –nay, strolling- gang of slick looking thugs. The hauling ass teens only stop long enough for a breather and suddenly the same meandering punk suddenly appears, fresh looking, from the shadows behind them. This is something you would expect to see in one of those Scary Movie parodies rather than an actual modern horror movie. For some reason one of the guys can sense (by smell?) that Sissy is “the one” they have been searching for so they have to bring her in alive. Seems that the lads are all cannibals as well though by the end of the flick we never really understand why they practice cannibalism or why Sissy was so special, or why the San Antonio police never knock on the door of their warehouse investigating the disappearance of hundreds of local women. Oh yea, right, cos’ the “Butcher Boys” have guns and make snarling faces. I forgot. What hard ass, red neck Texas cop or S.W.A.T. team is prepared to deal with that sort of stress? Also, why do psychos in these films wind up with huge warehouses to live in and operate from with utter impunity?
Once Sissy is brought into the lair of the gang things either start “getting really crazy and wild in that old school horror tradition” or “turn to total shit” depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting. There is the obligatory crazy family scene with Sissy sitting at the table while all the bad actors (many of them, about 8 or 9, having played in the original TCM, but don’t ask me to name them because I don’t care) hop around and yell and wear women’s clothes all in an attempt to be strange and shock the viewer. I was shocked alright, shocked at how inane the entire sequence was. One guy even seems to be doing a poor takeoff of the “fucking suave” Dean Stockwell character Ben from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet film (my favorite Lynch movie by the way, if you give a hoot and the type of movie I am afraid to review because I am simply not worthy). The concept here must be pretty simple for the director to pull off. “Hey everybody, just act odd and scream and final girl Sissy just look hysterical and cry a lot, then we will add all sorts of loud ass sound effects and music later and do some crappy, choppy editing, it will become a really controversial little scene that people will never forget”. Yea, they will forget it. In fact it is all becoming blurry to me even now I hammer on my keyboard. Thank God.
And then after all of the confusion and noise we have to sit through the movie ends in the most idiotic fashion ever and I won’t go into it and give anything away. Not because I am averse to spoiling a “good movie” but because I am still reeling nauseously from how stupid and corny and totally unbelievable it was. A film must have some element of believability to it or it has to be a comedy or parody of something that had that element. That should become one of those rules for a horror film. Like you do not show the monster or a naked girl too early on. Nor do you cast a lesser known Baldwin brother in the hero role. These rules are crucial for a horror film to be taken seriously at some level. As well so many things are never explained in this film. The story gets bogged down in trying to generate weird characters and it gets simply too loud and obnoxious at times. The chase scenes have all been done a million times and the directors simply show zero ability at being able to add any suspense to the ones done here. You follow Sissy from one incredulous moment into the next. For example she locks herself in an old dilapidated storage freezer with the gang outside it eating on her slutty friend, and all seems lost but luckily she finds… okay get ready… not only a working a lighter but a box of friggin’ dynamite stored in the freezer with her! For all the good it does her, or the film. Lots of raves from the super-indie film types about this one. But it sucks the big one from start to finish. I ended up fast forwarding the film just to get to the end so I could write this cheery review, otherwise I would have never finished it. I would like to say it gives San Antonio a bad rep, but it is already a place with a pretty bad rep in my book. There are reasons why I loaded up a U-Haul and left for Seattle and then later wound up in China. And one reason I wound up here in China is spelled S-A-N A-N-T-O-N-I-O T-X. But I saw some taco trucks and ma and pa style Tex-Mex restaurants in the back ground shots and what I wouldn’t give for a meal in one of those places now. I would even sit through this movie one more time for a real live San Antone creamy chicken enchilada plate or some carne asada with bottomless tostadas. That is how desperate I am for a real Tex-Mex taco these days. And that must be pretty desperate.