Monday, August 29, 2011

Cotton Candy Joe

Knowing that Casper Van Dien and Michael Rooker are top billed in a movie might very well be the best possible way to make me watch it. Van Dien, of course, because he’s the star of one of my all-time favorite films (of all time, and no, it ain’t The Dog Who Saved Christmas) and Michael Rooker because he might kill me if I don’t. Add the setting of Appalachia and I’m there before you can say Wrong Turn 2.
Quick Plot: An archeologist is gleefully examining his finds from a newly uncovered Indian burial ground. All is happy and nerdy until a skull-faced figure barges in to behead, de-arm, and axe his way through a batch of characters we will never see again, including a pair of soldiers with a video camera.

Okay, so I lied. We do ‘see’ the deceased soldier via his recording, a frantic message that was sent to a Delta Force headed by none other than Captain Leary (Michael Rooker). The oddly gender balanced team is sent to investigate with a terrifying lack of hair ties.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I simply cannot ever believe a female soldier would venture into the woods on a dangerous mission with her lusciously conditioned locks bouncing around. Can you imagine how much easier it is for a skeleton faced killer to grab said female by the mane? Or for a wild branch to slow her down? We won’t even mention how visibility is greatly impeded when SOMETHING IS BLOCKING YOUR FACE.

Rant over. Review resumed.
Leary’s soldiers eventually come upon a rather hilariously wigged Native American (with an ever so slight resemblance to Steve Carell) who details the story of the Skeleton Man, aka Cottonmouth Joe. Unlike his brother that sparked a catchy dance tune fit for sweet sixteen dance floors, Cottonmouth Joe was a warrior who slaughtered his own tribe and has since been reawakened by the nosy diggings of the late archaeologist. 
(About as PC as Michael Scott at a Thanksgiving pageant)

Suuuuuuure he is, thinks the hard-headed military. Though a few members seem to keep disappearing (including, gasp! Casper Van Dien as the bearded scout) there’s no REAL reason to think anything’s amiss, right?

Skeleton Man was made for the Sci-Fi Channel (yes kids, that’s what we geezers used to call it) and while there are no sharktopuses in sight, it certainly has the feel. This isn’t a horrible thing. As with most of those original films, the production values are more than decent and the ‘name’ actors dragged in seem to be happy enough to turn in passable performances in exchange for room service. The actual monster is cool in his kill methods (scalping!) but rather lame in design. Sure, a mashup of the Phantom of the Opera crossed with the Headless Horseman hunting in Predator territory is interesting, but that doesn’t mean a Halloween-style plastic skull mask is all you need to seal the deal.

Director Johnny Martin has a far longer resume as a stunt coordinator, but his most important credit comes from a little special something known to some as Killer Klowns From Outer Space and to others as One Of The Greatest Things To Ever Happen In My Lifetime. Martin played the famed Joe Lombardo, the first victim to be revealed swaddled in cotton candy. For that, he automatically gets a pass and hence, for that reason and a few others, I just didn’t hate Skeleton Man the way everyone else on the Internet seemed to.

High Points
Between spearings, bow and arrowings, tomahawk beheading and more, the kills are actually quite varied and fun

Low Points
A made-for-Sci-Fi-Channel film will indeed bare some token marks of itself, including, in this case, oddly chosen closeups, flashbacks performed by actors on their sixth hour of a five hour energy drink, and for no genuinely good reason, a random big ‘splosion.
Lessons Learned
When you only get thirty minutes of helicopter time for establishing shots, you will USE those minutes and CELEBRATE that waterfall footage
Rotten flesh smells rather like rotten fruit. Good to know (cleans fridge)

Being stalked kind of makes you feel special...don’t it?
Beans is good. Just heat ‘em up and they’re good to go*
*Ancient Iroquois wisdom 
Skeleton Man is a competent little horror movie that offers more gore than you’d expect from a TV-14 production. It’s perfectly fine for a background movie while you prepare dinner, clip your toenails, brush your cat, or alphabetize your DVD collection. To sit down and focus on it for 90 minutes is a little much to ask, but pop it on your streaming queue if you enjoy a modern B-movie. Or if you see Michael Rooker on the street because seriously, DO NOT mess with that dude.  


  1. Haha, I always dig movies with hilariously bad skeleton costumes, that's one of the reasons that I love the finale to Inferno so much.
    Isn't this the movie where a skeleton shoots down a helicopter with a crossbow?

    I'm about to start my posts for Tremors: The Series (which I'll do episode by episode), what do you think is more advisable, my semi-usual recap/review style or do you think I should refrain from spoiling the episodes that much? I'm not really sure since spoiling anything probably wouldn't mean anything for an eight year old show that probably only twenty people ever saw, but, still, I'm not sure.

  2. Yes! There is most definitely a helicopter death by crossbow!

    As far as exams, I think summaries with spoilers on an older tv show is absolutely fine so kong as you issue some form if spoiler warning. To me, there's nothing wrong with going into plot revealing details as long as your readers are aware before reading.

    I look forward richness posts!

  3. Richness posts with The Rooker. Only a Graboid could mess with him and live! Haha!

  4. Your "a random big ‘splosion" comment made milk shoot out of my nose. And I wasn't even drinking milk.

    I've seen enough of the Made for Sci-Fi stuff to know that comment is PAINFULLY accurate.

  5. Ha! I love that no matter what the script is, the Sci-Fi producers find a way to work in a 'splosion. The movie could be set underwater, in a library, on ice, doesn't matter. It's really the only way to kill anything in SyFyland, be it spiders, skeleton monsters, sharktopusi, invisible people....and so on.

  6. The cotton candy death looks like a poor man's blob death. That and the extremely poor man's skeleton mask puts this on my radar.

  7. The cotton candy death is from Killer Klowns From Outer Space! Thou shalt not insult!

  8. Oh my god, can't believe I've had this DVD on my shelf for ages, without realising how cheesy it is! Can't wait to watch it now. Excellent review!

  9. May it bring you all the happiness of delicious graham crackers dunked in dark coffee.

  10. I has made a wrong. Yes that was killer klowns.. kinda looks like a deleted scene from the GingerDeadman also.

  11. I don't think I finished Ginger Deadman. Do I have to?

  12. I think you can safely leave the Gingerdead Man to his gingery devices.. i'm sure the ending only involves more cake mix & bad latex.. (can barely remember it)

  13. I did appreciate the subtitle of the sequel, "The Passion of the Crust."

  14. The Passion of the Crust! Haha! A title rivaled only by Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (The power of christ impales you)!
    And there's a third GingerDead Man movie on the way, but with the significantly less catchy subtitle 'Saturday Night Cleaver'.

  15. But in fairness, JCVH is probably a MUCH better film than The Passion of the Crust.

    Saturday Night Cleaver? I'm disappointed! Unless the Ginger Deadman dresses in a white jumpsuit. That'd be kind of cute.

  16. yeah thats a real let down of a title name, what does Saturday night cleaver have in common with the gingerdead man??.. Pfft. I'm certainly not going to watch to find out.

    Getting through the first Ginger DM was chore enough.

    I don't want to hate on the gingerdead man trilogy but aren't they shooting themselves in the foot by Covering busey in makeup?? Isn't that why you go out and get Gary see his wacky face contortions?

  17. Right? And who uses a cleaver to BAKE?

    And yes, Gary Busey is most interesting in the flesh. The wrinkly, gooey, snarling toothed flesh...