From the Archive – Bones (2001)

Bones (2001)


“This Halloween, unleash the dogg.”

Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Starring Snoop Dogg, Pam Grier, Michael T. Weiss and Clifton Powell

 In 1979, Snoop Dogg is Jimmy Bones, a gangster who rolls around the neighborhood accompanied by his sidekick Shotgun, doing nice things for people. He gets murdered.

    Skip forward to the modern day, where a clueless group of multicultural teens are buying Bones’s old house to open their nightclub in. Despite warnings from neighborhood psychic Pam Grier and her attractive daughter, the club opens… only to be terrorized by the revived Bones, eager for vengeance on the people who killed him long ago.

    Surprise surprise, the idiot young folks are descended from one of Bones’s murderers. Bones goes on a killing spree, knocking off his killers and their descendants one by one until finally only Patrick ( Khalil Kain) and aforementioned attractive daughter Cynthia (Bianca Lawson) have to track him to his lair and banish him.

What’s wrong with it?

Godawful cheesy-ass special effects, particularly the blood, which looks like red paint mixed with Pepto-Bismol. The plot more or less makes sense, but the execution is irritating. Performances are terrible, including a particularly disappointing turn by Ginger Snaps star Katharine Isabelle. Snoop Dogg is actually one of the best performers in the film, since he’s basically just playing his stage persona. It also has a cheesy nightclub sequence, gratuitous scantily clad women, and the obligatory Snoop-dominated soundtrack.

What’s right with it?

Snoop Dogg is, funnily enough, pretty good, but the real scene-stealer is Ricky Harris as local crime kingpin Eddie Mack. Bones severs Eddie’s head and carries it around with him, still wisecracking. As a gothic horror movie, it’s OK, but a little limp.

How bad is it really?

Bad enough to be funny, if it weren’t for the long, dragging scenes with the earnest young people. Not hip enough to inhabit their roles well and not old enough to ham unabashedly, they stumble through the hoary plot, failing at every turn to provide us with reasons to care about them – or even distinguish one of them from another.    

Best bit (if such there is)?

  • Eddie Mack: “My soul? I killed you, you killed me, we’re even. Why you gotta get all metafuckinphysical, n***a? Shit!”
  • Cynthia, finding herself in a crazy necropolis full of Gigeresque twisted walls and trapped spirits: “This is the city of the dead.” You don’t say.
  • Bones, closing in for the kill on the hapless Patrick: “Surprise, n***a!”
  • Bones’s scary dog, after tearing out someone’s throat: “The gangster of love don’t need no fried chicken!”

What’s up with…? 

  • Bones’s dog? It can turn into other animals, vomit maggots, look like a person, talk, slice, dice, and give your floors a shine like never before! And where does it go halfway through the movie?
  • Pearl the psychic? If she’s so dingdang psychic, how come she only sees danger coming when it’s too late? And come to that, Bones kills his faithful henchman Shotgun because he betrayed him. But Pearl betrayed Bones in much the same way, and he’s not mad at her, oh no. Talk about a double standard…
  • Shotgun? Is he high all the time? There are lots of hams in the movie, but he’s the biggest of all, gurning his way through every scene like a sort of black Rowan Atkinson.


Production values – not too bad, I guess. Competently shot, if a little dim. The 70s flashback sequences are pretty neat. Special effects are dismal, though. 13

Dialogue and performances – rotten. Snoop, Grier, and Harris are worth your time, but the charismatic young leads are dull enough to drag the average down. 14

Plot and execution – well, it’s pretty much just a standard revenge-from-beyond-the-grave scenario. The scenes are strung together with no real relation to one another, particularly Bones’s manifestations in the early part of the film. 14

Randomness – high randomness, particularly in the first half and right toward the end. 16

Waste of potential – well, it’s hard to say. With some hipper young leads and a good unifying idea for the ghost-Bones, it could have been a lot better, but it’s pretty much a blaxploitation horror flick, so what did you expect? 14

Overall 71%


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