Broken Skull [AKA Headcrusher]

DO NOT be gentle!
★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1999
Director: 
Ricardo Islas
Starring: 
Marilea Butler, Stephanie Beaton, Ron Haines, Sia A. Moody, Nancy Adams
The Setup: 
Construction in a gym unleashes a supernatural killer.
Discussion: 

So it’s midnight one night and I hope to only be up about another half hour [and I don’t get network or cable TV], so I cast around for something out of my various bargain sets that definitely will not need to be watched all in one sitting. And here we are: Broken Skull, from my Afraid if the Dark four-DVDs-for-$5 set. I was specifically attracted to this one BECAUSE it’s from the year 1999, so I figured it would be a super cheesy shot-on-camcorder kind of thing… and it was exactly that.

We apparently open with this torrid amateur sex scene which I didn’t see because I was out of the room assembling my snacks, but apparently this guy who’s in trouble with the mob is shtupping this woman who is not his wife. We know he’s in trouble with the mob because a few minutes later the mob shows up and crushes his head in a vice. If you frame-by-frame at around 3:37 you will note INNOVATIVE use of animation in a live-action film. Anyway, they crush his head, and bury the body within the wall of the place, which is either currently a health club, later becomes a health club. This is supposed to be the 70s, I think, although no attempt is made to convey that.

Okay, so now it’s the present day and there are a bunch of construction workers breaking down a brick wall in a basement. They break for lunch, but one of them decides to stay and work, garnering the comment “You won’t get extra credit for being on a diet, you stupid ass.” Hmm, sounds like a hostile workplace. Anyway, the guy finds a skull in the hole in the wall that has a big chunk taken out of it. This is presumably the guy we saw get his head crushed in a vice earlier. Next we see the workers are returning, and the find the dude who found the skull running into the wall and bashing his own skull on it! He does soon enough, and everyone is freaked out. Then somewhere in here there’s something about the ethnically diverse makeup of the construction crew—I have only the vaguest recollection, since I actually watched this a while ago and am only getting around to watching it now, but I have “Message of racial tolerance” written in my notes. I only mention it because the focus on diversity is going to be fairly well hammed into our heads over the upcoming scenes.

We then join an Asian woman whom I believe is named Sandra, though I’m not totally sure [even in movies, I’m bad with names]. Let’s just call her Sandra for the purposes of this review. Sandra is giving self-defense instruction to her Latina friend, which I’m sure you would never guess is going to come in handy later. There’s a funny moment when Sandra knocks her friend out, then gets right up and starts straightening her hair. Then we are introduced to Lieutenant Kinderman, a tough female cop in the Kathy Bates mold, who tries to act all bossy-yet-sensitive, like every tough female cop character ever.

Now up until this point, all of this has just been TERRIBLY amusing to me because I’m a little NEL [Not Entirely Lucid] and the whole thing is just so low-budget and the actors all so non-professional that for some reason it’s all absolutely delightful. Really, it seems like some guy just thought “You know, I have a camcorder and goddamn it, I’m gonna make a movie!” Which is both funny and admirable—I mean, I haven’t made a movie, have you? And now this guy’s movie is being seen by hundreds of people around the world… so that’s an achievement. But the point of this note is that while I was highly amused for the first 20 minutes I watched before going to bed, the rest of it, watched later, was rather tedious. What I’m saying is that your viewing circumstances will be highly influential on whether you enjoy watching this or not.

So by now you have surmised that a big attempt is being made to emphasize minority DIVERSITY, which is somewhat toward the admirable, and this continues around 15:47 when we see the very gay-seeming coroner who appears to be wearing a wig. You won’t be able to miss the part where they have to pick up an errant piece of brain matter from the floor. That’s right.

Well, duct tape your jaw shut, folks, because otherwise it’s gonna hit the floor. So these new characters Nick goes over to Gary’s house… apparently for some kind of date! And Gary is this sleazoid middle-aged gay guy like MANY I was familiar with in my Michigan youth, the kinds I used to think were attractive for the simple fact that they HAD a mustache and made gestures toward appearing masculine, and here he leers after Nick’s ass as he walks into the room and it’s like: Was this illegally spliced with some sort of HIS Video outtake? So you’re watching with baited breath as they start making out [gentle pecks, no tongue] as they HOLD HANDS [I know that’s what all MY makeout sessions are like], with hands roaming over thighs and I’m like: “Are we gonna see a full-on GAY SEX SCENE?!?!” Then Gary says something I just don’t expect to hear in my films: “Want some poppers?” and then Nick decides he has to take a piss [and rinse his mouth], and he’s killed and ends up pissing blood. Then Gary snorts coke! Which is totally rude, to try to sneak that in while Nick’s in the bathroom. Then he turns over and we catch a quick glimpse of the Gary Gonads while he flips over onto his stomach and displays his nice hairy back, then says—and really, how can it possibly get better than this—“Okay babe! I’m READY! And please—DO NOT be gentle!” Obviously next he gets killed—I should go back and see if he dies via something shoved up his ass, as usually happens to gay people in movies [he doesn't], but I have to say, I was wholly not expecting this scene and it really made my evening!

Then there’s this woman Delores who I believe is the wife of the construction worker killed at the beginning, and she’s wailing in Spanish, causing Kinderman to look at her and say “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you!” and a nearby woman to say “much better that way,” and all of this UTTERLY HILARIOUS due to the participant’s lack of acting skills and the way every scene is referring to scenes from other movies, but unable to recreate ANY of their believability. Kinderman then says “Excuse us,” to the wailing woman who does not understand English and who is sobbing uncontrollably, and takes the other woman aside for a chat. After this I have the sarcastic comment written in my notes: “Cast of thousands,” followed by “Mucho coverage of red socks.” Then a guy gets his head run over by a train.

Anyway, so things go on, with someone getting their head crushed every once in a while. First we have an immigrant woman who recalls her rape and the explosion that tore apart her family—then she abruptly licks the table and growls. My next few notes [maybe the best way to get through this] are: “41:27: unmotivated fish shot [below],” “volatile construction workers,” “many pointless superimpositions,” and “reanimated soldiers—government conspiracy!” Although I can now no longer comment on whether there was an actual government conspiracy, because by the end of this I just wanted it to be over.

SPOILERS > > >
So now it’s time for the big showdown, in which Sandra and friends plus the Latin construction worker [haven’t even mentioned him, but he’s a good guy] go to the gym at night to snoop around for answers. There’s also a black female friend who brings “Mickey,” this multi-ethnic scunge [in my opinion], the kind of guy who, upon seeing two other women at the gym, says “Cool. Orgy.” So the black girl and Mickey go off to investigate but end up doing it, of course, once again a little more explicit than you’d expect, but then the soldier dude attacks and Mickey gets his cock bitten off! Not by the soldier. Then the Latin guys gets a huge load of bricks dumped on his head, causing Sandra to look down at his body lying motionless under a pile of bricks and say “Are you okay?” I have to make a Home Film Festival of movies in which someone asks that of people who are CLEARLY not okay. Then she goes to get help, slowly walking down a hallway saying “Mickey?” then walking three inches and saying “Mickey?” Then…. Then the three gangsters from the beginning show up! Then the wife of the dead reanimated soldier shows up! And then Sandra gets a chance to use her self-defense skills, but they don’t work as well as she’d hope on a soldier who’s already dead. Then the immigrant wife approaches the dead soldier, saying “Johnny, my love, will you ever forgive me?” Given that he punches her next, I’ll take that as a no. Then they think they’ve killed the soldier, and someone feels compelled to get right down next to the body and stare at it, and you know how THAT usually goes. And finally it’s all up to Sandra, and she’s cowering in a corner with an axe in her hand, and she just tosses the axe down. Well, she must not know her own strength, because next thing you know the soldier is beheaded! I guess that axe, which was lightly tossed away as one might do with a used Kleenex, must have bounced up off the floor, gaining velocity is it did, and chopped that sucker’s head clear off! Then there’s a blatant rip-off of the ending of Carrie, and we out!
< < < SPOILERS END

Like I said, it’s all going to depend on your mood, company, and the amount of substances in your bloodstream. I was tickled for the first 30 minutes, but then I turned it off and went to bed, and when I ended up watching the rest it was still plenty ludicrous, but I wasn’t nearly as amused by it. I guess it’s slightly interesting for the unusual deaths and focus on diversity and the gay sex scene, but if you don’t buy this in some set for another, better movie, I wouldn’t bother seeking it out in any way. But the gay sex scene… that was somethin’.

Should you watch it: 

I wouldn’t.