Hey kids, it’s Dash. I’ve got a question for you. Can you name me some African-American Slasher Villains…Don’t worry, I’ll wait. It’s hard ain’t it? Don’t worry, I’m not gonna be one of those guys who argues about how there’s more “white horror villains” or anything like that. However, I will admit that horror movies with an urban setting has a lot of potential. Two of the biggest examples being ‘Tales From The Hood’ and my personal favorite, ‘Candyman’. Unfortunately, ‘Tales From The Hood’ was merely an anthology film, and I’ve always considered The Candyman character as more of a force of nature rather than a straight-up slasher like they tried to make him in the sequels. As far as a black character as the unstoppable slasher villain in the same vein as guys like Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers? Well, we got one…sort of.
Hey, it could’ve been worse…it could’ve been Kanye West.
‘Bones’ was a 2001 Horror film from New Line Cinema. It stars legendary rapper Snoop Dogg in one of his first leading roles as the film’s main antagonist, Jimmy Bones; a 1970s gangster who returns from the dead to seek revenge on the people who’ve wronged him. It was directed by underrated filmmaker Ernest Dickerson, who’s mostly known for directing ‘Juice’ and ‘Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight’. Upon its release, the film was met with overwhelmingly-negative reviews from critics and a poor box office return. It’s no secret to anyone that ever since the late 80s and early 90s, New Line Cinema were desperately trying to create another Horror Icon like Freddy Kreuger after the decreasing box office results and popularity of the ‘Nightmare’ franchise at the time. It wasn’t until 2001 when they finally came up with an idea of a killer that had all the potential to be just as memorable and charismatic as Freddy, if not, more so. Incidentally, the character of Jimmy Bones and the casting of Snoop Dogg was not worse thing about this movie.
As I’ve mentioned before, Jimmy Bones was a well-known and respected gangster who was betrayed and murdered by his own people. Years later, a group of teens try to renovate Jimmy’s old building into a nightclub and come across a mysterious dog. Turns out Jimmy’s spirit lives within the dog(…get it?). As the dog feeds, Jimmy becomes resurrected as a supernatural killer. If I can be perfectly honest with all of you…that is actually an awesome idea. Not to mention the fact that the movie was released just a few days before Halloween. If this movie had been successful, we would’ve seen multiple sequels for the Halloween season at least every other year. This role would’ve been even more iconic if they had gotten a more charismatic and credible actor like Billy Dee Williams, Ken Foree or Don Cheadle. At the same time, however, this was one role that was clearly written only for Snoop Dogg. To Snoop’s credit, he was one of the more entertaining rappers back in the day and it sort of made sense to also make this film a vehicle for film career. The look and feel of Jimmy Bones is also really cool; with his all-black getup, red tie and butterfly knife. It may not be the scariest or the most original look for a Horror movie villain, but it’s certainly a memorable look that works for Snoop’s appeal.
Another thing that I find endearing about this film is the fact that it’s really a love letter to 1970s blaxploitation films that were blended with horror elements, like ‘Blacula’ or ‘J.D.’s Revenge’. Speaking of which, the film also stars none other than the Queen Of Blaxploitation herself, Pam Grier.
One of the most memorable black heroes and female role models for about the last four decades, Grier is one of the best actors in this whole movie playing Jimmy’s old love interest. Also, you can tell the woman was having a lot of fun reliving her glory days in those 70s flashbacks. Trust me, it’s not as silly as you think. Pam Grier may have been 52 years old at the time, but she’s still awesome and still looks good for her age. Where the film falters, however, is the scares and unlikable characters. It’s the same stereotypical characters you’ve seen in every new horror movies, as well as every other coming-of-age film with an urban setting. The protective father with a big secret, the son who tries make a name for himself, the hispanic comic-relief, the token white girl, the angry-old man warning people of curses, the crooked cop, the gang’s all here. I could take or leave the majority, however. But keep Raheem from ‘Juice’ and the white girl from ‘Ginger Snaps’, they’re cool.
Notice how I’ve been saying the words “charisma” and “Potential” a lot in this review. I’ve always had a soft spot for horror movies that try to blend the gothic tones of classic horror with the more realistic horrors of an urban setting. What worked with ‘Candyman’, they’ve obviously tried emulating with this movie. There’s a few things to enjoy in this movie. The direction, the overall premise and an interesting villain. Out of all the horror films to be remade or rebooted, this is one that could definitely benefit from a big-budget reboot or a Horror-anthology series on Netflix. As I believe that in the right hands, ‘Bones’ could still have all the makings of a new Horror franchise.
I’ll see you guys next time. Until then, Gotta Dash!
Written by Shane Moose
Videos & Photos:
Bones(owned by New Line Cinema)
Foxy Brown(owned by American International Pictures)
Juice(owned by Paramount Pictures, Island World, Original Film & Heyday Films)
Ginger Snaps(owned by Motion International)