Monday, March 9, 2015

Digging Up The Marrow (2014) : Do Monsters Really Exist??

~review by Marie Robinson

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a movie so much that I’ve wanted to write about it. Well, it finally happened in the form of Adam Green’s Digging Up the Marrow

If you’re a genre fan, you’ve probably heard of Adam Green, who is most notable films are Hatchet, Hatchet II, Frozen and the FEARnet television sitcom Holliston. In his latest film he stars as himself, working on shooting a documentary about monsters. Among his weird and wonderful influx of fanmail, some strange man by the name of William Dekker has been sending Green journals full of rantings about a place called “the Marrow”. According to Dekker he has found the entrance to an underground society of monsters—real monsters—and though he has pages and pages of drawings, he has no solid proof. 

Adam accepts Dekker’s request to put his story to film, mostly driven by his own childhood dream to prove that monsters are more than fiction. Accompanied by his cameraman, Will Barrat, they visit Dekker (Ray Wise) in his dilapidated home in small town, California. 

Dekker relays his farfetched tale of monster hunting, which revolves around the Marrow. He has found entrances to this underground world all over the country, but every time the creatures that dwell become aware of his presence, the entrance disappears. Years go by between the finding discovery of each new entrance, and the current gateway lies deep in a forest among the tombstones of some forgotten cemetery (sound like Midian to anyone?).  The first night that the trio travel to the mysterious trench in the woods, they come away with nothing, and although Dekker was “pointing out” creatures to them all evening, they couldn’t see or capture anything because he forbid them to use camera lights. However, a second trip proves fruitful with a camera flash. 

Adam becomes increasingly indulged in Dekker’s story and makes it his first priority; putting aside all of his other projects much to the annoyance of his fellow producers. However, there are many pieces missing to the story. The suspicions start when Adam mentions his latest project to a few directors (cameos by Tom Holland and Mick Garris) and they scoff, claiming that Dekker has gone to every horror director with his spiel. From then on the questions about Dekker’s true identity and intentions just keep mounting, but by then Adam is in too deep to pull out. 

I’ll admit this now: If it hadn’t been for Ray Wise, I probably wouldn’t have liked this movie as much as I did. Wise is a genre legend and a favorite of mine. Sure, he’s one of those actors who will go for ANY role, but I always enjoy his performances and find it a special treat when he pops up in a film (much like the great Clancy Brown). Ray Wise is known for playing lovably batty and unstable characters, and William Dekker falls just so into that category. 

Digging Up the Marrow doubles as an homage to the horror genre, and those who shape it. Among the cameos I mentioned earlier, there are dozens more, from Kane Hodder to Tony Todd. It also is a bit of shameless self-promotion on the part of Adam Green, who is President of ArieScope Pictures. Green and other members of the ArieScope team can constantly be seen sporting production t-shirts, but, hey, who can blame them? 

The story may not be the strongest, and leaves a little more to be desired, but I believe what I enjoyed most about Digging Up the Marrow was the mythos that was spun. When Green interviews Dekker in his home, we are shown his pages of artwork depicting the alleged monsters, several accompanied by anecdotes and descriptions. It was this folkloric element that naturally appealed to me. Also, the idea of the disappearing and reappearing entrances to the Marrow, and Dekker’s idea that there are tunnels running underground all over the country where these creatures dwell, had a delicious taste of urban legend. 

Brella by Alex Pardee
Horror artwork is a huge part of the film, and if you’re a fan of this blog and have seen our Dark Arts feature then you know we have to give a shout out to the artists in this film. The concept artist for Digging Up the Marrow is Alex Pardee, who not only created the monsters, but the entire idea for the story. It started when Pardee encountered Adam Green at a Fangoria Convention, and nervously handed him a little book of art he had titled, “Digging up the Marrow”. Five years later the story has finally come to life on screens across the nation. Pardee’s artwork is colorful and cartoonish with a touch of gruesome. In 2012 he curated a Halloween-themed issue of Juxtapoz Magazine and designed the poster for Bobcat Goldthwait’s 2013 film, Willow Creek. Alex Pardee’s creatures for Digging Up the Marrow were sculpted by the famous Greg Aronowitz; you can view more of Pardee’s work at his website ( 

Digging Up the Marrow had several genuine scares for me, and that is, ultimately, what you want from a horror movie, right? I recommend Digging Up the Marrow to genre fans, monster-lovers, and anyone who enjoys mockumentary or found-footage style films. 

One last thing! ArieScope is holding a contest to win Alex Pardee’s original artwork from Digging Up the Marrow. All you need to do is purchase a ticket to see the film (in select theatres March 5th) and mail the stub in. Check out the details here.

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