Skull & Bones The Movie Review

I have never outright panned anything that I’ve been asked to review before now.  Usually I try to find something, anything, positive to say about a movie or book I review, if only to give the author some credit for putting themselves and their creativity out there for public examination.  And when Keith at Homomojo asked me if I’d like to review Skull & Bones, my intention was to take the same positive route.  That’s just not possible with this movie. 

If we gay people, as a group, had gone out one day for coffee, all together, for the express purpose of deciding upon a weapon to give Dr. Dobson and his ilk to use against us, we could not have made a more appropriate choice than the “movie” Skull & Bones.

Not since having my wisdom teeth removed have I voluntarily subjected myself to such a painful experience.  To call it demented B-grade porn-lite would be generous.  Much as I hate to destroy someone’s dream, this isn’t a dream–it’s a nightmarish waste of time. 

It’s not merely that the plot was weak.  It’s not even that half of the filming was obviously done in someone’s basement.  No, the worst of it is that not one sensibility is left unoffended.  Take A Clockwork Orange, dress it up in S&M gear, turn it gay, then multiply it by a factor of 1,000.  And you’re still not close to how horrible and sick this disaster of a movie is. 

Understand, I love horror movies–even the schlock ones.  And I expect them to have at least some corny aspects.  But Skull & Bones is just downright awful.  The acting by the main characters, obviously some sadistic manifestation of the author’s fractured psyche, is terrible.  Terrible, terrible, terrible.  The extent to which they sexually torture their captives is beyond depravity, and the director’s choice of “effects” is equally tasteless.  You can say, for instance, that a guy shit himself without showing a closeup of his ass covered in shit.    THAT should’ve been the picture on the cover.  It would’ve been more honest. 

The main thrust of the plot is that the two primary characters Nathan and Justin (I refuse to call them protagonists because there’s nothing positive about them) proceed to drug, kidnap, rape in various ways, then kill, “straight” men who’ve picked on them because they’re gay.  As the movie proceeds, we’re either subjected to scenes with 3rd-grade drama club acting skills, in which they’re obviously reading cue cards, or scenes with 2nd-grade acting skills and shots of the same two unattractive asses thrusting back and forth as they rape their victims.  Oh, and don’t forget the first rape scene in which the victim dies with his rapist inside him–and promptly evacuates himself, as we humans tend to do at death, prompting the aforementioned ass-covered-in-shit shot. 

I can’t even begin to adequately condemn the dialogue.  Suffice it to say that I’ve heard better dialogue in silent movies.  Oh, yes. 

Most disturbing to me, however, is the fact that someone actually thinks there’s a market for this mess.  This sick fantasy arose from the author’s imagination, and I shudder to think what that author does in his personal life.  God forbid Dr. Dobson and company should get their hands on this movie–I can fully see it being used as a tool against the gay community.  “See!?!” they’ll say.  “THIS is what those sodomites want for our nation!!”  Great.  Thanks a lot, asshole. 

Honestly, Skull & Bones is THAT BAD.  I forced, yes, forced myself to watch the entire movie.  I said I would watch it, and I keep my word.  Then I BURNED IT.  I even burned the envelope it came in.  I burned it, then took a shower to wash the filth off of myself. 

And here’s the one good thing about the movie: it made pretty sparks in the woodstove. 

30 thoughts on “Skull & Bones The Movie Review

  1. Well, there is a market for it.

    The United States is the world’s leading producer of “snuff” films / games and violent pornography. As long as it’s simulated and not real, there’s very little the authorities can do.

  2. Jamie, I can’t tell you how far this review went towards repairing the image I’d begun to form about you based on my first interaction with you about this obvious piece-of-crap movie. I hesitate even calling this film “crap,” because it looks so patently horrible it gives crap a bad name…

    I’d gotten the idea that you really liked this movie for some reason, or that you had some sort of connection to it and felt the need to publicize it. I figured that was why you seemed so gung-ho about watching the final cut and reviewing it.

    I can’t say I am surprised that the movie is as rancid as you describe it–that much seemed pretty clear from the trailer. I will say that I am relieved that you agreed with my (admittedly) snap-assessment and didn’t try to make a silk purse out of that shit-covered sow’s ear.

  3. Dear Jamie and tedinla,

    As Harvey Keitel said in Pulp Fiction, “Before you guys start sucking each others’ dicks” in self-congratulatory ecstasy, please let me, the writer and director of “Skull & Bones,” weigh in for a moment to explain myself and the film.

    As I think my producer made clear when he made first contact with you via email about reviewing the film, “Skull & Bones” is meant to be a gay-themed campy slasher that is controversial, nasty, and extreme. You enthusiastically offered to review it knowing that, but seem to have completely forgotten what you knew about it when you sat down to watch it.

    Let me clarify my intentions: The film was meant to be a ludicrous send-up of the stereotype of gay men as serial killers. The acting, the dialogue, and even the props are stylized to look and sound comic-book-like and ridiculous – in short, to be funny.

    And by the way, the Ivy students do not put down Nathan and Justin for being gay (in fact they don’t even realize that they are gay) but for being “low-class losers from the other side of the tracks.” The class aspects of the film are part of what make it interesting—that quite apart from being gay, Nathan and Justin are alienated because they live in New Haven but don’t enjoy the privileges of Ivy League life.

    We have had a number of screenings in New York and Boston. I can assure you that audiences gay and straight alike love the film because they get the jokes. They understand that the film is a comical gay revenge fantasy like Thelma and Louise but with an evil (gay) John Waters heart. As much as gay men these days attempt to be on their best behavior in all circumstances, the fact of the matter is that audience members truly enjoyed watching the tables turned on the elitist hetero mainstream jock boys in the film.

    And speaking of John Waters, uptight critics panned Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble when they first came out back in the early 70s, and now look at the guy. Shock humor like showing shit-covered asses and shoving bananas and cucumbers up guys’ butts (when done well, as IMHO we did it) makes people laugh—especially young gay men. Lots of people are grossed out by Divine eating dog shit in Pink Flamingos, but Waters will always be remembered for having the balls to push audiences out of their comfort zone. And gay people will always ESPECIALLY love him because of his truly outrageous gay sensibility. To pretend not to understand the entertainment value of shock humor is just bullshit, frankly.

    But don’t take my word for it. Read the reviews of horror and cult film aficionados who have also praised “Skull & Bones” for qualities ranging from its originality to its deft handling of its anti-elite political subtext.

    http://www.thecoronersreport.com/skullbone.php

    http://www.dvdschlock.com/2007/11/review-skull-bones.html

    http://www.roguecinema.com/article-1167–0-0.html

    http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/skullandbones.php

    And about Dr. Dobson and his ilk: Do you honestly think that if we gay people all get married to each other and move to the suburbs and raise a Thai orphan, the right wing will stop hating us? Please. Plus, we don’t owe them a damn thing. But we do owe ourselves and each other the right to speak our minds freely. As Voltaire said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I don’t apologize for who I am. In fact I think “Skull & Bones” is a pretty darn daring effort, particularly as I anticipated running afoul even of my close-minded *gay* brethren. Moreover, as an artist I have the right to make whatever kind of movie I like and not be condemned for it—certainly not to have my complimentary DVD (and envelope!) superstitiously burned like some kind of seventeenth-century witch.

    Lots of horror fans believe that good horror should make you want to take a shower. While I don’t think of “Skull & Bones” as a horror film in any traditional sense, given that you showered after watching it I guess it succeeds as horror after all.

    T.S. Slaughter,
    Writer/Director
    “Skull & Bones”

  4. Dear T.S.

    “You enthusiastically offered to review it knowing that, but seem to have completely forgotten what you knew about it when you sat down to watch it.”

    I am more than happy to watch, and enjoy, movies that are “nasty, controversial, and extreme.” This effort was tasteless beyond measure, and from the level of “acting,” I’d say it was unrehearsed. “Campy?” NOT IN THE LEAST.

    For something to be campy it should at least entail one iota of humor. This did not. Oh, don’t mistake my meaning; I fully saw where you intended there to be humor, but a film needs actors capable of pulling off a scene–any scene–in order for humor to work. Rocky Horror. Another Gay Movie. THOSE were campy.

    And for the record, I never said you shouldn’t have the right to make whatever movie you want–but I also have the right to condemn the movie as horrible, atrocious, and a waste of my time. I also have the right, and the pulpit, to forewarn all those I can that this movie is just bad, bad, bad by all measures I can think of. I grew up on horror movies, and have most of them in my library. This was an insult to the genre.

    So before you go busting my chops about “forgetting” what I knew before I sat down to watch this thing, and calling me “close-minded,” try watching it as if it weren’t your own product.

    It’s not my fault your movie just plain sucks ass.

    Oh, and one more thing: in over two years of commenting on blogs and arguing with tedinla, this is, I believe, the very first time we’ve ever agreed on anything. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

  5. Wait? Homosexuals are stereotyped as serial killers now? Are you kidding me? I had just about got the lisp right and was working on getting the proper degree of flop in my wrist. I’d even just about managed to get through a Barbara Streisand CD without wishing for a sudden stroke that would render me deaf. Now you’re telling me I have to go out and murder a string of people in highly questionable ways with extremely low production values just to be accepted by “my people”?

    God damn it.

    Can’t I just vote Democrat and we’ll call it even?

  6. Mr. Slaughter, don’t bother trying to argue with what’s-his-name about gay culture. He’s a tight ass who is more concerned with appeasing staight people and homocons; than accepting the fact that not all gay people are intersted in becoming homogenous, Gap wearing gay clones of straight people.

    I knew where his review was going right from the first sentence. And his concern about offending anti-gays like Dobson, shows where his heart really lives.

    What’s-his-name has had a lot of firsts lately: panning your film and banning a poster he disagreed with, (a friend of mine.) Heres a first for ya, Jamie, try not being a douchebag.

    Now, I hope I will be the second person you ban here. I will werar that ban like a bage of honor.

    S&B did exactly what it set out to do and did it as a gay production. Congratulations to T.S., the Lloyd Kaufman of gay themed films

  7. Munch. Munch. Munch.

    Discard unpopped kernel.

    Munch.

    Oh, and by the way, Jamie, a bit of friendly advice; anyone who would call you a an appeaser has demonstrated rather convincingly that they’re way beyond rational thought, much less you convincing them by examples. Save about fifteen posts and walk onward without worrying too much.

    And as for you, Mr. Santos, a question; is it possible for you to recognize when something is genuinely bad, or are you just another one of those knee-jerk faggots that will defend anything a gay person does simply because they’re gay, no matter how far-out the adjectives you need to create are for it?

  8. And as for you, Mr. Santos, a question; is it possible for you to recognize when something is genuinely bad, or are you just another one of those knee-jerk faggots that will defend anything a gay person does simply because they’re gay, no matter how far-out the adjectives you need to create are for it?

    Jeff, I won’t ask you a question, since I already know the answer. You are one of those knee-jerk faggots who will denounce anything simply because it is gay, no matter the quality of the material.

    Homocons are incapable of humor, because you haven’t any souls. Henry Ward Beecher described you and Jamie perfectly:

    “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

  9. You are one of those knee-jerk faggots who will denounce anything simply because it is gay, no matter the quality of the material.

    There are advantages to keeping my identity close to the vest and known to only a few, and one of them is that Jamie can now howl and scream in laughter over you calling me a gay-hater who has never done anything for the community. :)

  10. I am probably the very last person anyone would describe as a “homocon.” I applaud pretty much any creative attempt to tweak the straight establishment. That being said, have you seen the trailer?

    I don’t care who made it–gay, straight, asexual–it looks badly scripted, badly acted and, well, just BAD! Trying to reduce it’s deservedly bad review to a conservative-vs-liberal or clone-vs-individualist argument misses the point–this movie (by every indicator I’ve seen) SUCKS!!!

  11. I knew “Santos” was a friend of “Raposo” as soon as I saw the “what’s his name comment.” Assuming they’re not one and the same unthinking asshat.

    I love it when bitter old queens show up and call me a homocon. Where are they when I’m getting slammed by my conservative friends for making my more liberal arguments? Oh, wait, that’s right, they sit by and don’t help me at all.

  12. There are advantages to keeping my identity close to the vest and known to only a few, and one of them is that Jamie can now howl and scream in laughter over you calling me a gay-hater who has never done anything for the community.

    First off, where exactly did I call you a “gay hater”?

    Secondly, where did I write that you have, “never done anything for the community”?

    Lastly, does the AIDS organization you donated approximately $2000 to, know of your hatred of those who are HIV+ and that you wish they die a slow and painful death, simply because they disagree with your politics, Jeff?

    You keep your identity secret to everyone except your friends, because you are a coward who does not want to own up to the garbage he has written.

  13. I don’t care who made it–gay, straight, asexual–it looks badly scripted, badly acted and, well, just BAD! Trying to reduce it’s deservedly bad review to a conservative-vs-liberal or clone-vs-individualist argument misses the point–this movie (by every indicator I’ve seen) SUCKS!!!

    Obviously S&B is no, “Citizen Kane”. However, for what the film is, it works. Your problem and that of what’s-his-name, seems to be that it is a gay themed film made by a gay film maker.

    S&B is made in the same vane as, “I Spit On Your Grave,” “The Last House On The Left,” and all of the Troma films and other revenge films that many of us know and love.

    The production values may have been poor and the acting wooden, but it was effective in what it set out to accomplish.

    If this film were another “Saw,” or, “Hostel,” you’d be clambering to praise it’s grittiness and raw intensity. But because it’s a queer film, you bitch and moan.

    Jamie mentioned offending James Dobson not once, but twice. That demonstrates clearly his left vs. right bias. If all gays are expected to temper our every action with the thought that we might offend anti-gay bigots, then what’s the use of being openly gay?

  14. Jamie mentioned offending James Dobson not once, but twice. That demonstrates clearly his left vs. right bias. If all gays are expected to temper our every action with the thought that we might offend anti-gay bigots, then what’s the use of being openly gay?

    You know, if you weren’t so steeped in your own predispositions about me, without even knowing me or reading they myriad articles I’ve written here and at Homomojo in the past condemning the Republican Party, you might actually agree with me on some things. I’m fair, and I give all ideas an equal reading. I have no overall left vs. right bias. Try exploring the site a bit before just assuming your friend Paul was in the right, and repeating his superficial hissyfit by calling me a douchebag. Try being as openminded as you seem to think you are, and you’ll find that I am a true moderate. Which is why I end up arguing with rabid neocons and liberals alike. Fine. I’m up to the challenge if it helps all gay people in the end.

    And read what I actually wrote, not what you think I wrote. I never mentioned “offending” Dobson. I mentioned giving them an explicit weapon against us. There’s a big difference. I could give a flying fuck about offending them. They lie habitually, and ignor the true spirit of all basic religious dogma by hiding behind selected scripture to try and enforce their own bigoted views. But adding to their demented arsenal of rhetoric with something that could be seen as highly offensive by the average american–those who might be straddling the fence on gay marriage, for example–seems to me to be a poor choice for all gays.

    And I do realize that the “average american” is not who this movie was made for. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used as a weapon against us. Should we temper our every action with regard to offending anti-gay bigots? No. But we ought to care about the votes of those who are still undecided on ENDA, Equal Marriage Rights, DADT, etc. And, though you may not know this, Dobson gets syndicated radio time across the nation, so his agenda gets disseminated even to those who wouldn’t pay him attention. He’s not only a crackpot–he’s a dangerous one.

    And “Last House on the Left” was a thousand times better than this movie. I stand by my critique. If the best you can do is call me unfounded names and accuse me of bias without bothering to examine the merit of that accusation, well…I can’t make lazy people think.

    But I do try. That’s the entire point of this blog.

  15. As for me not having a sense of humor–now that’s funny. Everyone I know in real life thinks I’m a riot.

    Nope, I must be to blame for a crappy-ass movie, I must hate my own gayness, yada yada yada.

    Try some introspection.

  16. repeating his superficial hissyfit by calling me a douchebag

    Oh, I’m sorry. I suppose I should have called you a dipshit, if douchebag offends you so.

    I mentioned giving them an explicit weapon against us.

    Anything we do is an explicit weapon, Jamie. Wanting to get married; wanting to adopt; PDA; Gay/Straight Alliances, etc. If you really believe one
    low budget indie film will tilt public discourse in their favor, you’re blind.

    something that could be seen as highly offensive by the average american–those who might be straddling the fence on gay marriage, for example–seems to me to be a poor choice for all gays.

    Wow! I didn’t realize S&B had so much power as to effect the culture war. I guess when John and Jane Q. Public go out to rent a DVD, they’ll be all like, “Let’s see. LOTR? Naw. Harry Potter? Naw. Rocky XXVI? Naw. Skull & Bones? Hurrah!”

    Jesus, Jamie, get your shit together. For every one straight person who uses this as weapon against us, there will be many more straight people who will defend us and this film. Perhaps even the children of the anti-gay people.

    And to claim that this film would have any impact on how people view gay marriage is so asinine as to end all debate here and now. You’re really going out on a limb here, Jaime. The other night Brian Williams claimed marriage was, “under attack,” during a news story about Queen Elizabeth’s and Price Philip’s wedding anniversary. That has a lot more weight than a low budget slasher film, but I don’t see any posts denouncing Rush Limbaugh loving Brian Williams.

    That doesn’t mean it can’t be used as a weapon against us.

    Anything can be used as a weapon against us, Jamie. Anything. Should we live in constant fear of offending the anti-gay sensibility? I say no.

    But we ought to care about the votes of those who are still undecided on ENDA, Equal Marriage Rights, DADT, etc.

    Once again, you’re going off the deep end, Jamie. Here’s a film maker who tried to make us appear “normal”–as normal as slasher films can be. He has invited straight film fans into a gay themed film and has tried to make them realize that although we may be different in some ways, when it comes to gore, we’re all the same. You would rather he make some Pollyanna film showing gays as saints, rather than as regular people.

    I believe this film has done more to make us more acceptable to straight people who would normally ignore us, than any Hollywood crap starring gay-for-pay actors ever could.

    The high brow intellectuals went to see Brokeback Mountain. But the rank and file go to see gore. And more importantly, young slasher fans could very well have their perceptions changed about us because of films like S&B. We’re no longer weak victims, we are the hunters, not the hunted. Young males respect that, no matter the content of the film. After all, all across America teenage boys were pretending to be a woman named Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider video game. So why should gay slasher films bother them anymore?

    Dobson gets syndicated radio time across the nation, so his agenda gets disseminated even to those who wouldn’t pay him attention. He’s not only a crackpot–he’s a dangerous one.

    How is that T.S. Slaughter’s fault?

    And “Last House on the Left” was a thousand times better than this movie.

    Aside from production values, how was TLHOTL 1000 times better? Obviously, it was a straight film and therefore better in your eyes.

    Perhaps I would have respected your review more if it wasn’t all about offending James Dobson and whining about making gays look bad. I’d rather have a queer make gays look back, than a straight person.

  17. Obviously, it was a straight film and therefore better in your eyes.

    Yeah, um, obviously the fact that it revolved around two gay characters means that it can’t possibly be a film without merit in your eyes. To say that I liked TLHOTL better because it was “straight” is pure ignorance. Nothing I can do about that except to suggest you get an education–assuming you can read a fucking book.

    Obviously you can’t even read. It wasn’t about offending Dobson. If you can’t discern the details of the nuanced conversation I was trying to have with you, then obviously any other attempt is pointless.

    Enjoy your life of predigested thinking. And goodbye.

  18. Dude, the man gave your movie a bad review. There’s no need for Defcon-1 melodramatics. He didn’t break into your house and kill your puppies. ;-)

  19. Your problem and that of what’s-his-name, seems to be that it is a gay themed film made by a gay film maker.

    I could not care less whether it is a gay film or a straight film or a tranny film or a penguin film–the acting looks awful, the writing is atrocious, the production values are poor and the makers of the film seem to be so enthralled and impressed with their own knowledge of insider slasher-movie trivia that they don’t seem to notice how bad the end-product turned out.

    If you notice, none of my comments had to do with the politics of the movie or the sexuality of the filmmakers or the characters. None of that makes any difference to me whatsoever. My position is based on my impressions of the film and my personal tastes. If you take away nothing else with respect to my feelings about this movie, please at least understand that much.

    Dobson be damned…

  20. Perhaps now, ted, you see what I mean when I say that there are plenty of people out there who don’t want to listen, or have a conversation. They just want to read what they want to into what one writes, and justify their own snap judgements based on one thing they read.

    See how quickly you, of all people, were labelled a “homocon?”

    Perhaps now you’ll believe me when I say I’m a moderate.

  21. That’s fine, TS. I don’t mind if you post links to opposing opinions here about your movie. My own judgement still stands. It’s a piece of shit movie, and that opinion has nothing to do with how “gay” it is. And you know, I’m probably not your target audience, if, as that last review notes, it would be good if you’re into certain fetish scenes or are just plain “warped.” (His word, not mine, but appropo nonetheless.)

    Like I said, you wanted a review, you got it. At least I was honest.

  22. This is the worth piece of shit i have seen.
    What a waste of my money, bad acting and bad filming,
    Theses guys are calling themselves acteurs, writer, director.
    Go to hell with the crap.
    Should have never hit the shelves, I don’t even want a boyfriend who said he liked it, the guy would be a trash in my eyes, even tho I am really open, but that shit? guys, please for the sake of the gay community, do something else, you have no imagination, not evvvn pride in yourself to be satisfied with this, the acteurs must have been desparate for money to even accept to play in it

  23. I’m so grateful I looked for reviews before renting this movie. Naively, I assumed it would surround the actual group “Skulls and Bones”. I found the preview for the plot ironic since I HATE hate crimes, yet the movie seems to base a gay couple seeking to hurt straight people; I’m embarrased to have even watched the preview….smh

  24. Honestly, I don’t care about the political mudslinging going on. But please don’t compare yourself to John Waters. Waters understands satire, and clearly Mr. Slaughter you do not. If you understood how to write satire, you might have made your point about how some Hollywood movies demonize homosexuals. Maybe take a comedy writing class at The Second City, or a regular writing class where you will learn how to use subtext, write believable dialogue, and actually develop characters that can achieve your desired effect.

    The acting in the film is bad by anyone’s honest standards. The last victim at least seemed moderately convincing when he was beginning to be attacked. A lot goes into film making, and I think some design classes and screenwriting classes would be well advised before you put this much effort into a project.

    Troma Films, John Waters films, and the best camp all have clear points of view, consistent production values, actors who can at least access emotion, and dialogue that is peppered with satire, but would still come from a living person’s mouth.

    And remember, comedy comes from taking characters and putting them in heightened and extreme situations, and having them pursue their objective like life depends on their success. None of the actors in the piece portrayed their roles with any sense of danger or importance. There were no stakes. The mother didn’t seem to really care when her son was abducted, and the victims seemed like they were in for a severe nipple twisting rather than torture and rape.

    Thank you Mr. Slaughter for the work you have put into this project. I hope you can take the criticism and the praise you have received from different reviewers and grow as an artist. Its all opinion anyway. Best of luck to you.

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