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[whitespace] 'Bones'
Numbers Game: Snoop Dogg seeks his revenge in 'Bones.'

Maggot Brain

Zombie woofer grosses out 'Bones' collectors

By Richard von Busack

OBVIOUSLY, a movie that features a talking, red-eyed devil dog barfing a Niagara-like flood of maggots won't be at the Oscars next year. Still, within its gross standards, Bones offers a few guffaws and a couple of moments of profundity, before falling apart completely. Bones exists to serve the underserved genre of melanin-horror (consider everything from Tales From the Hood to Blacula). The field seems loaded with potential for the ambitious filmmaker--ghetto novelist Donald Gaines was more spine-chilling than Stephen King. What I'm describing sounds like exploitation, but 90 percent of all movies are exploitative at some level. And even Bones has its socially conscious side, as befits a movie directed by Spike Lee's cinematographer, Ernest Dickerson.

A quartet of middle-class deracinated kids (two of whom are half- black, half-white, one of whom is Katherine Isabelle, the wolf-girl from the film Ginger Snaps) decide to buy a derelict slum brownstone, shaped like a huge masonry skull. They intend to turn it into a dance "Club Illbient," despite some troubling signs: a pedigreed Satan hound living on the premises, hallucinations of peril and blood leaking from the plumbing (the idiot kids chalk this up to "rust").

Even predictions of doom from Pearl, the local psychic (the goddessy Pam Grier) can't warn them away. Part of the amazeing quality of Grier is that you can dress her in '70s fashions, and she looks exactly, and I mean exactly, the way she looked 30 years ago. In flashbacks of the 1970s, we see that this 'hood version of Castle Greyskull was once the pad of her boyfriend, the lordly yet beloved numbers runner Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg). He was vilely murdered by criminals and a crooked cop (who, in one witty West Side Story theme gag, is referred to as "Officer Corrupt-ki"). Thanks to the impiety of the meddling hip-hoppers, Bones is coming back for revenge.

As the kids get picked off, there's a sense of justice served. These youths have embraced the outward show of ghetto culture--the slang and the clothes and the music--without having to endure its pain. But when the resuscitated Jimmy Bones is on the warpath, the film becomes a slasher-movie spree about as gripping than the "Attack of the Zombie Pimps" sequence in Hollywood Shuffle. The dialogue, by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe, has, in that famous comment about the Fat Boys, the street authority of a "Don't Walk" sign. Ultimately, Bones is caulked with unconvincing computer animation, too much violence, not nearly enough sex and far too many maggots.

Bones (R; 92 min.), directed by Ernest Dickerson, written by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe, photographed by Flavio Labiano and starring Snoop Dogg and Pam Grier, plays at selected theaters valleywide.

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From the November 1-7, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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