After enjoying Digging Up the Marrow for the second time last night, I realized that the damn movie actually creeped me out. By the end, I was clawing at my legs and trying to warn the protagonists. I was convinced that somehow I could change the outcome of the movie (remember that I had watched this once before). Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen I somehow KNEW that this time would be different. Of course it wasn’t different and the audio cue that makes the ending of Digging so powerful was so loud in my quiet little house that I jumped straight up off my goddamn couch… AGAIN! That’s the sign of a great movie. That’s the sign of a movie I want to show my kids around Halloween, and it’s the best reason to support Adam Green and ArieScope as well as the new RLJ/Image Blu-ray release.
My initial thought was that Digging Up the Marrow is the perfect companion piece to Nightbreed (just recently released by Scream Factory as a Director’s Cut). It balances the monster world created in Nightbreed that may be completely fantastical and a wee bit unrealistic with a found footage, faux doc style that forces you to believe in monsters, even the ones in completely unrelated films. Once you buy into the Marrow (the place from whence the monsters and the cast-offs emerge from beneath the surface of the Earth) you can pretty much tie any of your favorite monster flicks from the 50’s to present straight into the origin story provided, believably by William Dekker (Ray Wise). Little Monsters? Tie it in. Rawhead Rex? It’s Alive? Q, The Winged Serpent? Connect the dots, and you can end up with as many holes leading into the marrow worldwide as you’d like. There’s an urban legend quality to Digging Up the Marrow that makes it feel like a tale out of Weird NJ. It’s something we would have tried to uncover or explore as kids. I even know of the perfect “Marrow entrance” in Sussex county. There’s a glue here that makes sense, and it’s broad enough to apply to all the stories you’ve heard.
My initial impression of the film also had me at odds with Ray Wise’s portrayal of William Dekker. That’s not to say that Wise was a poor choice or that he did not convey conspiracy theorist, paranoid and fanatical in the best way possible. My dislike came from having someone famous play a character that is surrounded by people playing themselves. Adam Green, Rileah Vanderbilt, Will Barrat, Kane Hodder… all play themselves. The world of Digging Up the Marrow is our world. The really real world. There’s plenty of horror celebs, artists and directors showing up at the cons show in the film. How was casting a well known actor like Wise a good choice save for that fact that his performance was spot on? How can I believe the Marrow world is real if I know that one of the Marrow hunters is an actor playing a role rather than an unknown or perhaps more obscure casting choice? The second viewing corrected this assertion. I simply didn’t care that the world of Digging Up the Marrow had a flaw or rather an imperfection because Wise is the perfect choice. The name Dekker, every time I hear it, drives me straight back to the world of Midian and of Nightbreed.
Perhaps the most important facet of Digging Up the Marrow is the monsters. They look brilliant. Practical effects and makeup without computer influence to mess them up. They are terrifying and fantastical and good representations of Alex Pardee’s work. Pardee’s beautiful monster artwork being the inspiration for the movie as credited. There’s a misdirection in the initial appearance of each of the monsters. Each one appears and you say, “is that it”? Then comes the reveal, and that’s when you’re allowed to get scared. The reveal is always well timed and not forced.
Digging Up the Marrow is balanced well with Green’s inherent humor and funfilled spirit. He knows how to shock, but he entertains with the best of the 80’s master monster movie makers. He always pairs well with Kane Hodder. This movie does take place in the real world after all, but really, it takes place in Green’s world.
This may be my favorite horror picture of the year so far and for those of you with aversions to found footage movies, I ask you to consider this one as an exception to your dogma. This is really an excellent example of how that shooting style works well. Yes, it’s shaky at times, but appropriately so and did not inspire any nausea. The monsters are fantastic and it has the same kind of excited energy you might find in a movie like Goonies where childlike wonderment and the instinct of the explorer takeover to create relatable “characters” and a worthy hunt. Immediately after watching Marrow I started getting the feeling like it was time to get the band back together… the crew I hung out without with many years ago, smoked cigarettes with and drank coffee with at the diner’s of great Morris County to dig up some Marrow of our own. Take a hike in your local park then enjoy Digging Up the Marrow.
You can order Digging Up the Marrow now:
Also check out Green's new interview effort, Adam Green's Scary Sleepover. It's great fun.