Snoop Dogg’s Film Debut

Murdered by a corrupt cop in the late 70s, a popular gentleman gangster in the hood returns some twenty years later as a vengeful spirit when club promoters accidentally bring him back. A horror project conceived for rap superstar Snoop Dogg, Bones has him playing a beloved figure in the ghetto who returns as a frightening monster.

Ernest Dickerson’s Bones is high on horror camp and a load of gimmicky practical effects. Snoop’s co-stars include Pam Grier, Clifton Powell, Michael T. Weiss, and a young Katharine Isabelle. A dud at the box office, fans didn’t completely buy Snoop playing a horror villain despite the obvious fun he’s having in the role.

Snoop Dogg plays a version of himself as Jimmy Bones, a smooth ghetto hero from the 1970s decked out in player gear. Pearl is Jimmy’s love interest, perfectly cast as Pam Grier in both the past and present. Refusing to deal crack in his neighborhood, Jimmy is murdered in a shady deal with a corrupt cop and his own people. It’s a basic yarn ripped from Blaxploitation tropes.

Bones is fun if you sit back and don’t think hard about its flaws

Some twenty years later, young club promoters unknowingly awaken Jimmy’s spirit when they renovate his abandoned Gothic home as a night club. Jimmy Bones returns from the grave to wreak havoc on the people that crossed him in life. The fairly complicated backstory pulls in several characters from Jimmy’s past that meet grisly fates at his hands.

As horror, Bones is all over the map in tone. Some of the set pieces are ridiculously over the top, laden with ambitious but inconsistent practical effects. Impressive details like a living wall of bodies are truly frightening. Other scenes are hampered by shoddy optical effects such as barely visible ghosts. Snoop relishes playing the horror villain, turning the final act into a bloody carnage.

Bones is fun if you sit back and don’t think hard about its several flaws. There may be too many side characters in the overloaded narrative. Pam Grier is perfect as a psychic hanging around the neighborhood. She makes a great leading pair with Snoop, recalling her glory days as the queen of Blaxploitation. Dickerson (Juice) crams a lot into Bones, going for flashy visuals over solid storytelling. There is clearly some tongue-in-cheek humor and romance thrown in for good effect.

Video

Press materials from Scream Factory indicate a 4K restoration from the original camera negative. Bones receives a fair film transfer without undue processing, licensed from Warner. The 2001 New Line flick doesn’t have extraordinary depth and dimension, predating the digital color grading era. Fine detail is visible but frequent optical effects and dated CGI limit overall picture quality.

The 2.35:1 presentation has inconsistent shadow delineation and moody lighting, often leading to flat cinematography. The AVC encode is superb, fully rendering the native grain structure without artifacts. New Line’s films have often been treated by WB like orphans, forgotten and abandoned. Bones has a steady contrast but falls on the softer side of newer film transfers.

A box office dud, Bones gets a satisfactory film transfer struck from unimpressive-looking elements. Print damage is negligible but the video just doesn’t pop like the best catalog restorations.

Audio

The original New Line DVD had an impressive English DTS-ES 6.1 soundtrack with a discrete back channel. Scream Factory gives us fine 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio on Blu-ray instead, highlighting Bones’ tight imaging and separation across a very wide soundstage. The surround mix is nicely layered with directional panning and active immersion. The Rap songs offer thump and accurate bass. Bones has adequate dynamics without extraordinary treble extension. There are no dialogue issues.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font, inside the 2.35:1 presentation at all times. A secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack in stereo is also included.

Extras

Scream Factory ports the special features found on New Line’s old DVD and gets several new interviews with various crew members, including the screenwriter and cinematographer. The one absence felt here is Snoop Dogg himself, missing from the new interviews. Fans will have to settle for the older commentary track with his presence.

The BD is coded for Region A. The review copy lacked a slipcover and there is indication of a pre-order bonus if ordered directly from Shout Factory’s website.

Audio Commentary With Actor Snoop Dogg, Ernest Dickerson, And Adam Simon – A rolling group commentary with a baked Snoop pointing out what he enjoyed in the film. Simon is asked to carry much of the conversation with Dickerson filling in filmmaking details.

Building Bones – An Interview With Director Ernest Dickerson (20:21 in HD) An interesting conversation with the director discussing Snoop getting high nearly everyday on set, among other topics. Dickerson discusses his love of older horror films and how the project came about behind the scenes.

Bringing Out The Dead – An Interview With Co-screenwriter Adam Simon (17:18 in HD) Really the mind behind Bones, Simon talks about first meeting Snoop and coming up with a horror script at the star’s request.

Urban Underworld – An Interview With Director Of Photography Flavio Labiano (11:42 in HD) The cinematographer covers working with practical effects and the ability to play with light and shadow in a horror movie.

Blood N Bones – An Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Tony Gardner (15:19 in HD) – Gardner’s problems dealing with Snoop and other issues that arose working on the movie’s practical effects.

Digging Up Bones (23:48 in SD) – Archival featurette that delves into the production with cast and crew interviews, not to mention some b-roll footage.

Urban Gothic: Bones And It’s Influences (18:57 in SD) – A featurette that investigates the horror movies that influenced Dickerson’s directing on Bones, from his love of older Frankenstein and Dracula movies to Italian thrillers from Argento.

Deleted Scenes With Optional Director’s Commentary (24:35 in SD) – Fourteen scenes with Dickerson crisply explaining how most of them would have fit into the film.

Dogg Named Snoop Music Videos (07:24 in SD) – Two videos for the movie’s main theme song, including a “live” version with Snoop concert footage featuring the Dogg Pound.

Theatrical Press Kit With Behind-The-Scenes Footage (10:45 in SD)

Teaser Trailer (00:31 in SD)

Theatrical Trailer (02:08 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review by the label. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu.

Bones
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Movie

Snoop’s horror movie from the early 2000s was created with an urban audience in mind, dating the movie’s campy feel and horror.

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