As a child, I remember walking up and down the aisles of Hollywood Video every other Saturday evening. Around the age of eleven or so, I would start to sneak into the horror aisle, where the VHS’s I’d select had to be vetted by my mother before she’d rent them for me. Being the superficial child that I was, I’d frequently select movies based on their cover. This brings me to BONES. It had been a couple of years after the movie had been released, but I remember how startled I was when looking at the cover. Whether it was the piercing stare from Snoop Dogg, who I was unfamiliar with at the time due to musical genre differences, the contrasting between the red on Snoop’s skin with the bold yellow eye color, or what have you, that cover made its mark on my impressionable psyche and is possibly one of the few covers I remember years later. Although I did not rent the film at the time, I got the opportunity to finally watch the film for Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release.
The film cuts between two time periods – 1979 and the present day. Twenty-two years after the death of the neighborhood protector Jimmy Bones, a group of young adults purchases Bones’ old brownstone home, which has fallen in disrepair along with the rest of the neighborhood. Patrick (Khalil Kain), his brother Bill (Merwin Mondesir), step-sister Tia (Katherine Isabelle), and s Maurice (Sean Amsing) are hoping to renovate the former home into an after-hours nightclub, which will not only boost themselves up but will also help make a step towards slowly reviving the ghetto the neighborhood has devolved into. Little do they know that the home they bought also houses the vengeful spirit of the murdered Jimmy Bones, who is itching to punish those who killed him twenty-two years ago.
Throughout the course of the story, we slowly begin to unearth what really happened to Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg, Training Day). Bones was highly respected and loved as the neighborhood protector, making sure that what decisions he made were made to do right by the neighborhood rather than himself. However, a group of people harbors far greedier aspirations and he is in the way. Jeremiah (Clifton Powell), Jimmy’s best friend, associate, and – ironically – is Patrick’s father backstabs him alongside drug kingpin Eddie Mack (Ricky Harris) and crooked cop Lupovich (Michael T. Weiss). Pearl (Pam Grier), Jimmy’s lover at the time, witnesses the murder and has since kept herself away from the home that serves as his tomb, raising his daughter Cynthia (Bianca Lawson). Unfortunately, for all involved that fateful murderous night, Jimmy has a bone to pick with them and, due to the teens’ nightclub plans, it’s not long before he cuts a bloody swathe across the neighborhood.
So, I’m going to be honest and say that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into BONES. I went in completely blind and I have to say I quite enjoyed it. It is undeniably campy as I think a good chunk of the horror films back in the early 2000s were, but I don’t think it really took away from the film. The clear connection to the Blaxploitation genre is there, with the focus on the past being set in the late 1970s. And, when you look past the more cheesy elements of the film, what you have is something that is an homage to classic horror films. You have a man who was brutally murdered seek revenge against those who wronged him, but he cannot be easily dismissed as a monster. He developed that way as a result of the actions of the world and its people. He still loves the woman who was there when he was killed. He expresses sorrow looking at the neighborhood he once protected having fallen into disarray. While Snoop Dogg may not 100% capture the emotion in Jimmy Bones’ journey, the overall arc is still satisfying enough to watch play out.
As we all know, Scream Factory generally works hard to get some new shiny special features into their Blu-ray releases and they didn’t disappoint with their release of BONES. There are four new interviews added onto the Blu-ray with director Ernest Dickerson, co-screenwriter Adam Simon, director of photography Flavio Labiano, and special makeup effects artist Tony Gardner. What I found most interesting was how much Dickerson and Simon pulled inspiration from Classic Universal Horror monsters to develop the storyline, with Dracula being the most prominent source of inspiration. It prompted to me go back and see what elements I could tie into from the original Dracula storyline. Dickerson’s interview, in particular, is a standout because he really gets into detail about the development of the film, how much the final cut was not what he had intended, and more. And, for fans of practical effects or CGI effects, the interview with Tony Gardner will most likely be your jam.
All in all, I am immensely grateful to have had the chance to watch BONES. Had I watched it upon seeing it in that aisle of Hollywood Video in middle school, I’m not quite sure I would have understood or appreciated it in the way that I do now as an adult. While some of the special effects are cheesy and a product of the time (that bright red blood and those talking heads are high in the cheese factor) and the third act did suffer from cuts that took away from the cohesiveness of the film’s plot, I do think people should try to watch this film. There’s a lot to appreciate and, in the end, the tale of Jimmy Bones needs to be told if only to understand how some men can be made into monsters through the actions of others.
The Full List of Special Features:
- NEW 4K scan from the negative
- NEW Building Bones – an interview with director Ernest Dickerson
- NEW Bringing Out the Dead – an interview with co-screenwriter Adam Simon
- NEW Urban Underworld – an interview with director of photography Flavio Labiano
- NEW Blood N Bones – an interview with special makeup effects artist Tony Gardner
- Audio Commentary with actor Snoop Dogg, Ernest Dickerson and Adam Simon
- Digging Up Bones
- Urban Gothic: Bones and its influences
- Deleted Scenes with optional director’s commentary
- Dogg Named Snoop Music Video
- Theatrical Press Kit with behind the scenes footage
- Teaser Trailer
- Theatrical Trailer
The fun and campy BONES, starring the one and only Snoop Dogg, is now available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory.