Review Date: February 16, 2002
Director: Ernest Dickerson
Writer: Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe
Producers: Rupert Harvey, Peter Heller, Lloyd Segan
In 1979, a ghetto gangster with a heart of gold gets killed by a bunch of nasty individuals looking to take over his neighborhood. Twenty years later, the gangster is awakened by a bunch of kids trying to turn the home in which he was buried, into a discotheque. Snoop Dogg is the gangster in question, a switchblade is his weapon and revenge, the ultimate goal.
A fun, over-the-top, campy horror flick starring the perfectly cast Snoop Dogg as a gangster who comes back from the dead to avenge those who whacked him out back in the day. I see this film as a perfect party movie, something to put on in one of the darker rooms, through which folks could slip in and out with their drinks, not take the plot too seriously and enjoy the bloodiness of it all. It ain't going for originality points since it's basically just a take on the tale of Freddy Krueger from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, but it does manage to inject some stronger elements within, including a believable romance between Snoop and Pam Grier, a sympathetic killer (?) who basically seems like a decent guy before his death (other than the fact that he was a gangster!) and some pretty cool murder scenes. Granted, the film does start off on a much more interesting plain than it ends (in a completely over-the-top CGI "city of the dead" environment) and I wasn't necessarily impressed when the darker mood of the film was ruined by a couple of wise-cracking decapitated heads nearing its conclusion, but anytime Snoop Dogg hit the screen, especially during the flashbacks when he was the macdaddy of the street, I really got into his character and the movie. I also dug most of the special effects in the flick, especially the damning wall of the dead, which was as creepy as you'd expect something like that to be, and the style utilized ideally by director Ernest Dickerson, who uses POV shots, fast-motion, slow-motion, sweeps and whatever else you could think of, to make the film that much more cartoony.
Unfortunately, some of the effects turned out to be a little "too CGI" for my taste (especially near the end), but overall, they worked. One of the things that did take me out of the film during the second half was its inconsistency in genre. The first hour of the movie was more serious, more message-oriented (the whole drugs in the ghetto thang was a nice and ambitious touch), while the last half hour turns into an all-out slasher with plenty of obvious fake paint-red blood, T&A, cut off heads and maggots galore. The mix of attitudes kind of took me aback. As for the acting, Snoop was awesome as Jimmy Bones, a character of whom I would like to see more in future installments (although they should decide beforehand whether or not they want to take the cartoon or serious horror route), and the two leads, Khalil Kain and Bianca Lawson who were respectively solid, and generated enough chemistry to make things a little more interesting (Lawson's also got a great ass!) I've never been a fan of psychics in movies, especially horror flicks in which they tend to "see it all", blah-blah-blah, and unfortunately, Foxy Brown herself (Pam Grier) took that fall in this film. Oh well. In the end, the movie is all about cheese, horror, homage to blaxploitation and Snoop Dogg acting cool in a pimp outfit strapped to a tee, and if that's what you're vibing on a cold Friday evening in the lonely darkness of your home, slap this puppy into your VCR and enjoy some of its goofiness. If you're primed to take the movie seriously though, you've already lost the battle to enjoy yourself, so don't even bother.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian