Directed by Ernest Dickerson. Snoop Dogg is Jimmy Bones, who, back in the ‘70s, was his neighborhood godfather (or doggfather, as the case may be). He’s betrayed and killed in his home by his greedy business partner Jeremiah (Clifton Powell), drug dealer Eddie (Ricky Harris), and crooked cop Lupovich (Michael T. Weiss), while his girlfriend Pearl (Pam Grier) is forced to watch. Then like a bunch of smarties they bury him under the house. Twenty-two years later, Jeremiah’s children Patrick, Bill, and Tia (Katharine Isabelle) buy the house, planning to turn it into a club. Too bad Bones comes back from the dead for revenge; maggots raining from the ceiling can’t be good for business.
One of the things that strikes me most about the movie is its portrayal of race and class. Jimmy’s house is square in the middle of Desolation Row, and he has no dreams of leaving; he wants to stay and help his community from the inside, by doing stuff like giving kids money for ice cream and keeping drugs away. Jeremiah on the other hand is motivated to kill Bones because he can’t wait to get out of his neighborhood and forget he was ever there. He adopts the lifestyle that according to stereotypes African American men supposedly covet: materialistic, with a house in the suburbs and a white wife. (Not that people of any race enjoy being poor.) In the scene when Jimmy comes to get him, Jeremiah’s reaction is not astonishment that he’s back from the dead, but an indignant “How did you get in here?” He is horrified by his children being involved with Bones’s house because he could be implemented in the murder, but he’s also upset they want to move back into the ghetto.
Also striking is the film’s creepiness. Bones’s house is host to the city of the dead, which looks like it was designed by H. R. Giger: masses of disembodied heads and limbs screaming out for help. What makes it so eerie is the notion that that’s what the afterlife is like—for everyone. Also, while Snoop has his moments of questionable acting, his angry face is enough to take one aback. It’s not cheapened by its moments of humor or one-liners (most of which are more like slogans, like “Dog eat dog”) except when Eddie is killed—he turns into a regular stand-up comedian. Otherwise I’m very taken with the movie. This is the third or fourth time I’ve seen it, and it still disturbs me.
I’ve watched many a horror movie with my baby daughter Layla in the room, without qualms. But I couldn’t help but feel guilty when one of the first sights to greet her upon waking from a nap was a dog vomiting insects. It’s gory and thought-provoking, yet entertaining.