By the time we got to Bones in the Cavalcade's never-ending journey through the B-movie minefields, I have to admit to a heavy mixture of both anticipation and trepidation. In other words, I was quivering with glee over the fact that we had finally gotten to Blaxploitation , something that I couldn't believe hadn't come up in the thematic choices thus far. But I was also nervous that it had somehow ended up being Blaxploitation Horror. It's not like there's a huge abundance of those, and what little there was, well... Let's just say that Blackenstein isn't necessarily my idea of a good time, or anyone else's for that matter.
Enter Bones. Featuring the Snoop D-O-double-G playing Jimmy Bones, the ghost of pimp past (who obviously got left off of Dickens' list). But as he's a pimp for JUSTICE, or at least "victimless crime", he tends towards running illegal gambling and the like. This makes him a hero in his community, especially when he decides to block the introduction of crack into his turf. Unfortunately, this leads to betrayal, murder, and an all around bad evening for ol' Jimmy.
Fast forward 20 years, and the Neighborhood has gone to hell. Jimmy's squeeze, Pearl (Pam Grier) has grown into the "crazy witch lady", doling out fortunes and raising her daughter-who has no idea who her father is, but anyone with a 3rd grade education might hazard a guess. Bones' house stands empty, broken down and forgotten. Well, that is until 4 entrepreneurial 20-somethings decide to buy the place and turn it into a nightclub. Eventually, they accidentally wake up the vengeful spirit of Jimmy Bones, and wackiness ensues "in a blood-soaked tale of family and revenge", according the to box cover marketing copy.
To be fair, this throwback horror film pays faithful homage to the blaxploitation films of the 70's and is a well-shot movie that is both earnest and thoughtful. The producers, writer, and director all pull the smart maneuver of tailoring the role of Jimmy Bones to Snoop Dogg, allowing him to essentially play himself (worked so well here that Universal Studios would use the same formula in 8 Mile the next year, with Eminem). With that hurdle out of the way, they surrounded him with talented actors and actually put a lot of care into the story and characters-which was both pleasantly surprising and disappointing.
While we were hoping for an adrenaline-fueled romp, we instead got a somber look at fathers, sons, betrayal, and honor...somehow mashed into what is, at its heart, a fairly solid take on a ghost story. While its certainly interesting viewing, and wholly recommended for a night on the couch, it's not something I'd recommend for an event as it never builds quite enough momentum to keep a crowd going.