7 June 2006 | ty4000
Low budget Atkins paycheck
I rented 'The Stoneman' (2002) because I was going through this Christopher Atkins stage and wanted to see everything that sounded interesting with him in it. He seems to have been doing a lot of horror type films over the past decade or so, and, being a horror film aficionado, if I may, I was eager to see him in this one among his others. As soon as the film starts I said to myself
this isn't 2002. Although, I guess it truly is as Atkins does have some wrinkles. The quality of the film used to make this movie was extremely grainy and now that I think about it, some form of video probably. There is an opening murder scene and the gore in this scene, as well as the clothing and hair of the actors, seems pretty early 80's low budget as do the murders to come. It's as if these scenes were filmed years ago and then the other parts with the recent cast were spliced in. Hmmmmm.
But now to present day
the cast is not too full of unknowns, albeit, stars of yesteryear so to speak. Pat Morita (the old karate dude from The Karate Kid) heads the cast along with Atkins (now well out of his youth and his Pirate Movie days). Also here are some TV personalities such as Robin Riker, who's done just about every TV series in the 90's, and Bernie Koppel (Doc from the 70's TV series The Love Boat). Oh, and the director of the film, Ewing Miles Brown, plays the sort of narrator. Turns out Mr. Brown has been acting in films since 1946 and has directed and/or produced a very select few. From looking around IMDb, I wouldn't doubt if Mr. Brown got the other celebrities to do this film because he had worked with them once somewhere in his long past.
So, besides the grainy film quality, the sound was of low budget quality. I could have dealt with it, seeing plenty of low budget films before, but the music track was so obnoxiously loud (and the music so over-dramatic itself) that it was extremely distracting from what I was trying to watch. Oh, and half an hour into the film I realized the cast hadn't left the little storage room they've been in since the beginning. It began to feel like a stage play that was video taped.
Anyway, the story is of an archaeological professor (Morita) who brings back a preserved prehistoric type caveman from a safari in the 'rapidly disappearing rain-forest,' which is, actually, stock footage from Animal Planet or something very similar, to the un-named university he is a part of. There is some grumbling from fellow faculty (Koppel) bent on poo-pooing away Morita's findings as a hoax. On the scene are members of the press, including Atkins who basically just has pre-romance "I'm annoyed by you" dialog with Morita's assistant-type helper (Riker). I thought it funny when Morita explains the preservation of the caveman from the 'chemical contents of that bog.' Ah, yes, that explains it.
Then there are murders happening as bodies are found and the caveman has mysteriously escaped, I mean, disappeared. There's a lot of blah banter in-between the murders, which is always interrupted by a telephone ringing
you know, the phones that belong on desks and have rotary dials
there seem to be a lot of them in this show. Screen time is basically shared by everyone, so Atkins has little to do in this movie besides loan his name. There are no A Night In Heaven gyrations in this one for his part. Oh, and do look out for the victim with the pepper spray...she is grinning the whole time like she can't keep a straight face while being attacked by a large guy wearing caveman pelts.
The story continues and is predictable. The only reason to rent this film would be for Christopher Atkins completists. Otherwise, it's not scary, well filmed, or acted, really. It's funny, though, because it thinks it is a serious film, and it's earnestness is a little sad and cute in a way. I think Mr. Brown meant well and did his best, ah, but next time, spend a little more for a cinematographer, a pay less yesteryear actors...except Atkins, keep him, he's still good looking for an older dude.