“The legend of Jimmy Bones, sharp as nails, tough as stones, this aint based on no true story, this is the real motherfucker…”
...Back in 2001, director Ernest Dickerson (Demon Knight) brought a combination of Blaxploitation and gothic horror to the streets with Bones. Written by Adam Simon (Carnosaur) and Tim Metcalfe (Fright Night Part 2), the film stars Snoop Dogg as the titular Jimmy Bones, a gangster betrayed and murdered by his own crew over twenty years ago, who rises from the grave to seek revenge after a group of teens decide to open up a nightclub in the place where Jimmy was killed.
On March 31st, Scream Factory is resurrecting Bones once again with a Blu-ray release that’s going to bust a cap in your eyeballs! For those that have never seen the film, this is the perfect chance to correct that grievous mistake.
The insanity kicks off early with Bones, opening on a couple of dumbass white thugs who escape cops chasing them after a drug deal by ducking into Jimmy’s old crib, an imposing structure that would make Dracula’s castle whimper. There, they encounter a bullet –absorbing, maggot vomiting, red-eyed demon dog (the soul of Jimmy). Needless to say, the dog has a few bones to pick (and chew on), with trespassers.
Soon after, we meet the aspirational Patrick (Khalil Kain) and his musically inclined crew consisting of his brother Bill (Merwin Mondesir), step-sister Tia (played by the always excellent Ginger Snaps star, Katherine Isabelle), and smooth as butter Maurice (Sean Amsing). Contrary to standard tropes, every one of these kids is extremely likeable, despite the fact that they’re so dumb, they ignore blatant warning signs of danger like doors opening by themselves, bloody streaks on the floor, and oh, a HUMAN JAW.
Turns out, Patrick is actually the son of Jeremiah (Clifton Powell), Jimmy’s best friend and associate who betrayed him all those years ago, who has since gotten off the streets and made a successful business for himself, and is utterly horrified at Patrick’s new business venture. Coincidentally (or maybe not), Patrick also forms a relationship with Cynthia (Bianca Lawson), who has a secret connection to Jimmy herself and is the daughter of Jimmy’s ex-lover, Pearl (Pam Grier). And just to top it all off, the two men who forced Jimmy’s confidants to murder him, drug kingpin Eddie Mack (Ricky Harris) and crooked cop Lupovich (Michael T. Weiss) are also still around, and they aren’t thrilled about Patrick’s new club, either. Probably because the evidence of Jimmy’s covered up murder, i.e., his corpse with a damn dagger still buried in the chest, is still there.
Bones has a ton of moving pieces, and admittedly, it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on in the story (no thanks to the studio butchering the final cut, as Dickerson discusses on the commentary of deleted scenes), but that doesn’t matter, because Bones is one of the most entertaining horror flicks of the 2000s regardless.
Fans of classic Universal monster movies will find a ton to adore in this shocking horror flick, because in many ways, Bones is secretly a modernized, gory as hell update on Dracula. As Dickerson and Simon both discuss in new interviews on the disc, Bones was heavily inspired by those legendary characters of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein, etc, as, like them, Bones himself is a sympathetic villain, a decent person who was transformed into a ravenous monster by the cruelty of the world around him.
Outside of Bones’ “Castle”, Snoop floats through the film in a costumed blend of pimp-garbs and a cape-like leather jacket, sporting deadly-sharp fingernails, monstrous eyes and manipulative powers that can control shadows, beasts, and human minds. He has all the trappings of Dracula, minus the fangs and the chilling accent.
Cynthia even plays a character similar to Dracula’s Mina, an object of Bones’ desire whom he visits in the night, causing her to have sexual convulsions (I think), while rolling around in a mattress absolutely drenched in blood. It’s just one of the many examples of the astounding imagery created by Dickerson and cinematographer Flavio Labiano that assaults the viewer throughout.
Typical to Dickerson’s films, Bones is highly stylized, soaked in ethereal colors and frenetic camera movements, and it’s also dripping with so much gore it’ll leave your TV blood-stained. To say the effects in the film are over-the-top would be an understatement. Bones himself reforms his own flesh like Frank in Hellraiser. Blood is splashed onto walls in the shapes of human beings. Talking, severed heads are carried around as both a joke and terrifying reminder of Bones’ power and the lengths he’ll go to to make his victims suffer. Oh, and let’s not forget the monstrous wall of wailing souls (all done with practical effects), that’s even more frightening than Freddy Krueger’s fan-club of victims screaming the night away inside his chest.
Bones is a wild film, and it astounds me that it isn’t more beloved. As hilarious as it is gruesome and disgusting (that damn maggot-vomiting dog), this film is an unforgettable entry in the Blaxploitation horror genre that absolutely deserves a much-needed resurrection from Scream Factory.
As far as the special features go, the disc has a ton of soul-soothing old and new content. This disc is a brand new 4K scan from the negative, and it looks GORGEOUS, highlighting the already bright-red blood and making it pop like the exploding corpses of Bones’ victims.
There are four new interviews on the disc with director Ernest Dickerson, co-writer Adam Simon, director of photography Flavio Labiano, and special make-up FX artist Tony Gardner. Building Bones, Dickerson’s interview, is a must-watch for fans of the film, as Dickerson details everything from the development of Bones to the final product, dropping nuggets like the fact that Snoop was high through about ninety percent of the shoot, rarely sobering up for scenes like the burning down of his gothic home.
Simon’s interview, Bringing Out the Dead, offers a ton of background behind the concept as he discusses his inspiration for Bones, diving into the lore that inspired the villain. He also talks about the importance of practical special FX and why they’re so vital in horror, which should automatically endear him to any horror fan.
Labiano and Gardner’s interviews are the less interesting of the two, yet both are cut with fascinating behind the scenes looks at the process, exploring how some of the film’s more impressive sequences were shot, and giving glimpses at the application of some of the makeup effects, leaning heavily into Weiss’ fat make-up, which Garnder says was to reflect the corruption of his soul.
Scream Factory has also included older content, such as a commentary with Snoop, Dickerson and Simon, deleted scenes with commentary from Dickerson that are more worthwhile and informative than most deleted scenes, and more.
Bones is all about not forgetting where you came from and the consequences of turning your back on your roots, so hopefully, this disc will encourage fans to revisit this essential piece of 2000s horror that helped to set the path for where we are today.
If not, ole Jimmy Bones may have to pay you a visit, fool.
Check out the full list of special features below, and pick up Bones when it rises onto Blu-ray from Scream Factory March 31st, which you can pre-order here.
By Matt Konopka