• Bones (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: March 31st, 2020.
    Director: Ernest R. Dickerson
    Cast: Snoop Dogg, Pam Grier, Michael T. Weiss, Clifton Powell, Ricky Harris, Bianca Lawson, Katharine Isabelle
    Year: 2001
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    Bones – Movie Review:

    Patrick (Khalil Kain), along with his brother Bill (Merwin Mondesir) and sister Tia (Katharine Isabelle) and their friend Maurice (Sean Amsing), decides to buy a rundown old building in the bad part of town and turn it into a nightclub. What they don’t realize is that way back in 1979, a pimp named Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg) was murdered by a cop named Lupovivh (Michael T. Weiss) and some of his cohorts - Eddie Mack (Ricky Harris), Jeremiah (Clifton Powell) and Shotgun (Ronald Selmour) right in front of his girlfriend, Pearl (Pam Grier). Why? Because he didn’t want to start pushing a new drug called crack in an already troubled neighborhood.

    As Patrick and company move into the building and start fixing it up, he start to get friendly with Cynthia (Bianca Lawson), the pretty young woman who lives across the street and who just so happens to be Pearl’s daughter. Before you know it, they’ve got their club up and running but haven’t bothered to report the body that they found in the basement, the one that’s been rotting there for over two decades and which seems to be coming back to life the more a spooky dog with red eyes eats flesh.

    It looks like Jimmie Bones has come back from the dead, and he isn’t happy with the guys that killed him… or anyone else for that matter.

    If you think of this as a mix of A Nightmare On Elm Street, Hellraiser and Suspiria mixed with elements from older Blaxploitation films like The Mack, you’re on the right track. Bones isn’t nearly as intense or as frightening as either of those two films but it does use elements from them, and if it doesn’t always like the most original film ever made it is at least a lot of fun. While the movie is definitely a product of its time (2001 might not seem like that long ago for some of us but one look at some of the digital effects employed in the picture will remind you that, yeah, Bones is fast approaching its twentieth birthday!), it’s remains quite a stylish picture and one that’s relayed with a welcome sense of twisted humor. You wouldn’t want to take a movie with Snoop Dogg playing an undead pimp too seriously, right?

    The film makes excellent use of color in its last half, definitely showing an Argento (and by default Bava) influence in that regard. The cinematography is polished and the old brownstone location serves as a reasonably atmospheric location to stage all of this. The attention to detail in the scenes set in 1979 is pretty solid, lots of garish fashions on display help to convince us that this is the period being depicted. The movie also has a pretty decent hip-hop soundtrack, with contributions from Cypress Hill, Kokane, D12 and, of course, Snoop Dogg himself (and quite a few others). It works in the context of the story being told and the characters that populate it.

    Performances are pretty fun. Kain is likeable enough. Mondesir not so well defined and Amsing there for comic relief (his name is Mauriace but they call him the gangster of love!) and Isabelle more for eye candy purposes than anything else. They all do fine though. Weiss is a really solid villain, as is Harris, while Powell's character is a bit more complicated and played that way. Bianca Lawson is also pretty decent here. You completely understand why Kain would be drawn to her, because she’s incredibly nice looking, but she delivers very good work here and is really good in her part. The real stars of the show, however, are Snoop himself and, of course, Pam Grier. Grier treats the material seriously, playing the most dramatically serious part in the film with the type of class and style you’d expect from her. Her presence in the film is a definite asset. As to Snoop himself? He’s perfect in the part. His sense of cool is effortless and natural, as laid back as laid back can be, but pretty effective as a vengeful ghost pimp as well. You actually wind up wishing he’d been given more screen time in the movie, as the weaker first half of the picture is that way because we don’t get as much Snoop as we do in the second half!

    Bones – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory brings Bones to Blu-ray in AVC encoded 2.35.1 widescreen taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative, taking up just over 31GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Generally speaking, it looks really, really nice on this disc. Color reproduction is frequently gorgeous, especially the greens and reds used throughout the movie. Detail is very strong throughout the duration on the movie, and there’s very good depth and texture here as well. The elements used were clearly in great shape, there isn’t any noticeable print damage here to complain about, while the transfer retains the expected amount of natural film grain. There are no noticeable problems with any obvious edge enhancement or noise reduction to complain about and the picture is free of noticeable compression problems.

    The best audio option here is an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. There’s some impressive surround activity here in the more active scenes, with most of the dialogue kept up front. The track is nicely balanced and does a very good job of spreading out the soundtrack to help create some nice atmospherics. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, everything is nice and clean and clear sounding. An optional English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is also included, as are optional English subtitles.

    Shout! Factory has wrangled up four new featurettes for this release, the first of which is Building Bones, an interview with director Ernest Dickerson that runs twenty-minutes. In this piece he speaks about his consistent love of the horror genre, how the project was developed specifically for Snoop Dogg, why Dickerson took the opportunity to direct, the film’s unique style and distinct use of color and quite a bit more. Bringing Out The Dead is an interview with co-screenwriter Adam Simon that runs seventeen-minutes and covers how he got his start in the business, working with Roger Corman in his early career, how he went about creating a project for Snoop Dogg to star in and his thoughts on working with the man himself, how he was supposed to originally direct the film and why that didn’t end up happening and how he feels about the project in hindsight. Urban Underworld interviews director of photography Flavio Labiano in a twelve-minute segment where we learn about how he grew up in Spain, how he wound up in Hollywood, the specific use of color employed in the film to create its unique look and how he was disappointed when the film underperformed at the box office. The fourth and final new featurette is Blood ‘N Bones, which is an interview with special makeup effects artist Tony Gardner that clocks in at fifteen-minutes. This piece covers how he came onboard to work on the project, collaborating with Dickerson and Snoop, creating some of the specific props and appliances required for specific scenes in the film, the creation of the film’s evil dog and more.

    Carried over from the previous DVD release is the audio commentary with Snoop Dogg, Ernest Dickerson and Adam Simon that covers a lot of ground, from the origins of the project to influences that worked their way into the film. They talk about creating the haunted house, shooting in Vancouver, working with Grier and the rest of the cast and lots more. It’s a fun and informative track worth checking out.

    Also carried over from the DVD are a few featurettes - Digging Up Bones is a nicely done twenty-four-minute piece that is a making of documentary made up of cast and crew interviews as well as a nice selection of footage shot on the set of the film while it was in production. Urban Gothic: Bones And It’s Influences spends nineteen-minutes with the cast and crew discussing how other horror films, particularly European ones and specifically Italian ones, had a big influence on the look and tone of the film. We also get a nice selection of twenty-four-minutes’ worth of deleted scenes that are available with optional commentary from Dickerson.

    Rounding out the extras are a music video for ‘A Dog Named Snoop’, a theatrical press kit (that contains a bit of behind the scenes footage), a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    Bones – The Final Word:

    Bones is pretty entertaining stuff, a ridiculously stylish film that works quite well as a star vehicle for Snoop Dogg while allowing the supporting cast, Grier in particular, to deliver fine work. A good sense of humor helps here too. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release carries over all of the extras from the older DVD release and adds some good featurettes to the mix in addition to offering an excellent technical presentation of the film. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Bones Blu-ray screen caps!