-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
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The Bone Snstcher|
cast: Scott Bairstow, Rachel Shelley, Warrick Grier, Patrick Shai, and Andre Weideman
director: Jason Wulfsohn
90 minutes (R) 2003
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
First Look DVD Region 1 NTSC retail
reviewed by Steve Andersen
From Overseas Entertainment, a relative unknown in the industry, comes a picture eerily
reminiscent of 1950s' horror. Set in South Africa, filmed in South Africa, and subtitled
only in Spanish for some reason (I admit I was half-expecting Afrikaans), this is a
vaguely familiar story of geologists as superheroes. Boy, bet you never thought you'd
hear that one, eh?
We open on a nuclear reactor in crisis - a meltdown narrowly averted
by the quick thinking of scientists. And the reward for their leader's quick thinking?
A posting to scenic, far-off Africa! African desert, too - nothing around for miles
and miles, or kilometres. The stark emptiness of the desert is truly striking in an
era where just about every movie playing takes place somewhere picturesque. And of course
the people are a pleasure to work with - within five minutes we're treated to an almost
loving description of how human urine can be distilled into water so pure that it rivals
Himalayan snowmelt. I found my own sentiments echoed from one of the crustier characters...
you can leave me the snowmelt, thanks.
And then we're treated to one of my least favourite film conventions,
a dolly shot. That is, a camera moving forward rapidly with a filtered lens to make it
seem as though something is moving forward in a hurry, and we're seeing through their
eyes. I give it the generic name of 'he who walks behind the rows vision', after the
Children Of The Corn
series, the first place I encountered it. It is, needless to say, an old convention,
and old conventions are tired conventions.
Several minutes later, our party arrives at its destination, to search
for water in the desert. Our party arrives to the sight of several flesh-stripped corpses,
some of which have their heads detached. Of course, our party is understandably alarmed
and begins trying to piece together what happened. People start disappearing. Strange
things begin shambling through the desert. Mechanical failures plague the team, removing
their one major advantage. Their truck breaks down in the middle of the desert, and their
radio begins to fail. Now, with their supplies running low and their lifelines cut, the
team must race against time to figure out what's going on in the African desert... and
how they can survive it.
And indeed, what do we find? It's a kind of ant that's responsible for
the whole thing! Which leaves our scientist friends with one central purpose - eliminate
the colony of giant ants who only appear to be harming scientists who get too close to
their colony in the desert. Yeah, boy... that could be a real threat, couldn't it? But
if they were to get out of the desert there could be some real problems. So, there needs
to be some explosion that turns some giant ants into some giant ant bits.
Now, let's digress for a moment here to talk about a movie called
Them! - which
is also about giant ants in the middle of a desert that terrorise human populations.
Of course, here, the difference is the population is much smaller, especially in the
beginning. We find that in The Bone Snatcher, things could be much worse for
human populations if these ants get out of the desert in one piece, whereas in Them!,
the harm is already about to come to pass. But the basic thematic elements are the same.
Giant ants, risk to humans, scientists standing in the gap. It's interesting when you t
hink about it.
Why would South Africa decide to revive the giant ant movie? Did they
think it would be best for them with their environment and resources available? Or did
they just think it would be a quick way to cash in on America's insatiable desire for
pure blood 'n' guts horror? Is this a statement on the world's environmental leanings
- a cautionary tale in the making about chemicals and nuclear materials?
The Bone Snatcher DVD comes with subtitles and a set of three
trailers, including its own, and two others: Hollywood North and Between Strangers.
Neither is even vaguely related to the movie, or to horror in general, or even horror's
bastard son science fiction. It's really rather strange that they'd add these two trailers
onto a movie about giant ants.