Filmed in an around the Vasquez Rocks National Park, the iconic landscape isn’t the only reason for Sci-Fi fans to check out this made for TV monster movie from 2007. It stars Tron/ Captain Sheridan himself, Bruce Boxleitner, TV’s “Buck Rogers” Gil Gerard and Walter Koenig (“Star Trek”, “Babylon 5”) in a story of an ancient evil awoken by some greedy developers. Well, I say ‘stars’ but Gerard has very little with the main story and delivers most of his lines sitting down and Koenig literally phones his performance in a one scene role as a local pathologist.
When unscrupulous land developer, Big Jim Burns, ignores the protests of the local Native Americans and begins a new development, he inadvertently awakens an ancient evil when his construction crew dig up an ancient skeleton. The local half-Native American sheriff, Steve (Boxleitner) finds himself caught in the middle of the trouble as he struggles to fulfil his duties to the town and to his people as the Bone Eater’s death toll rises.
Although there’s the lingering disappointment of a movie about violating Ancient Indian Burial not bringing in Craig T Nelson or Zelda Rubenstein for a cameo, the movie is actually pretty successful in its blending of (superficial) Native American mysticism and creature feature – provided you make generous allowances for the low budget, SyFy original nature of it in the first place. The Bone Eater itself is an endearingly Harryhausen-esque affair, despite being CGI it moves with a nostalgic stop-motion style that gives the movie a goofy charm. Surprisingly for a SyFy movie, it’s incredibly light on the digital core and the victims of Bone Eater are dispatched in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”-style dustings rather than dismembered or splatted. There are some sub-plots which pad out the running time but add little to the story: there’s an aggressive young Native American who wants to take more direct, violent action against the developers and, of course, Steve has a rebellious estranged daughter whose back story is as underdeveloped as it is unnecessary to the main narrative.
The final showdown with the Bone Eater may be a little underwhelming but then Boxleitner’s not a young man anymore and the budget doesn’t really stretch to stunt doubles so you have to take what you can get. All in all, though, “Bone Eater” is passably entertaining. The Bone Eater monster is a fun if cheaply realised monster and Boxleitner’s always watchable as the noble hero. Unusually, it’s also pretty family friendly so there’s no need to keep the schlocky nonsense to yourself. Bone appétit!