Once artist Snoop Dogg became a gangster rap icon, he inevitably branched out in the early aughts in to bigger pastures. Before he became a family friendly talk show host, he was someone who promoted the image of the pimp, and then became an open advocate for cannabis. In between those hazy days in his late career, Snoop Dogg (or someone in his PR team) decided that they should try to re-condition him in to a horror character. The inevitable product was “Bones” an utterly tepid, dull horror vanity vehicle from the man that gave us “Demon Knight.”
In 1979, Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg) is respected and loved as the neighborhood protector (/drug dealer?). When he is betrayed and brutally murdered by corrupt cop Lupovich (Michael T. Weiss), Bones’ brownstone home becomes his tomb. Twenty-two years later, the neighborhood has become a ghetto and his home is a decrepit gothic mausoleum. Four teens decide to renovate it as an after hours nightclub, and unknowingly releasing Jimmy’s tortured spirit. Now Jimmy’s ghost sets his sights on revenge, wreaking havoc on the teens and the people that killed him, and makes a move for his tortured former lover Pearl (Pam Grier).
Dickerson takes “Demon Knight,” Freddy Krueger, and Superfly and puts them in to a big blender. What we get is a pretty bland facsimile of the aforementioned with a movie that fails to be creative, or remotely creepy. Dickerson never seems to know what kind of character “Bones” is, which is pretty much the biggest problem of the movie. Bones is the titular maniac of the movie who loves tormenting the people that disrupt his tomb, but in his story told through flashbacks he’s depicted as somewhat of an anti-hero who was unjustly murdered by his friends.
The movie can never seem to decide if we should be terrified of Bones, or root for him, especially with the plot twist in the second half involving his daughter. Even with Pam Grier, there isn’t a single good performance in the entire cast that also includes Bianca Lawson and Katherine Isabelle. I think she’s been killed in almost every early aught horror movie ever made. I digress. In either case, whatever mythology Dickerson implements are fuzzy and bland, while Snoop Dogg doesn’t add anything to Bones, whatsoever. While Dickerson gives the movie a lot of life with a very EC Comics feel, the entire concept of urban folklore, and violence breeding evil is completely botched.
The better example of that description would be “Candyman” which is almost kind of the same movie, yet Candyman is so much better realized. And let’s face it, Snoop Dogg doesn’t have a hint of the gravitas that Tony Todd does. With Candyman, he was a tragic figure, but still a movie maniac, while Bones is… well, he’s empathetic enough to root for, but slimy enough to root against. So, the narrative never gives us a definitive stance to allow audiences a chance to pick side. “Bones” is just Dickerson slumming it, while we have to sit and watch a bunch of actors that we know are capable of so much better.
The new Blu-Ray from Scream Factory includes a commentary with director Ernest Dickerson, writer Adam Simon, and star Snoop Dogg. “Building Bones” is a twenty minutes conversation with Dickerson, who shares his lifelong love for the horror genre, raised on nightmare cinema. He explains how the movie was intended as a project for Snoop Dogg, the casting process, the Argento influences and how New Line botched the marketing for the movie. “Bringing Out the Dead” is a seventeen minute sit down with Adam Simon, who explores his history in the film business, coming out of USC to work with Roger Corman, handling directing duties on “Carnosaur,” “Body Chemistry II,” and “Brain Dead.” He discusses being tasked with creating a starring vehicle for Snoop Dogg, and how the rapper wanted to become the “new Freddy.”
The eleven minutes “Urban Underworld” is a brief chat with cinematographer Flavio Labiano, who recalls his upbringing in Madrid, managing to reach Hollywood with work on “Bones.” We learn about his technical achievements on the film, his use of color, how he turned the haunted house into a character, and his sadness at how the movie bombed in 2001. “Blood ‘N’ Bones” is a fifteen minute talk with special effects artist Tony Gardner, who shares memories of his creative relationship with Dickerson and Snoop Dogg. Snoop had had to sit for the creation of a life cast which ultimately wore on his patience. Gardner also fully blames New Line Cinema “Bones” flopping at the box office, and the death of a potential sequel.
“Digging Up ‘Bones'” is a twenty three minute vintage 2001 featurette on the making of “Bones,” with on-set interviews discussing story and creative intentions. The eighteen minutes “Urban Gothic” dissects “Bones,” exploring its idea and influences from other horror features, and the obvious emphasis on Italian cinema. There are twenty four minutes of Deleted Scenes that offer more background information on the characters, along with extra horror moments. Commentary by Dickerson is optional. There’s the Music Video “Dogg Named Snoop,” with Snoop Dogg performing at a party celebrating “Bones.” There’s the theatrical press kit with B roll from 2001, and finally the original teaser and theatrical trailer.