The Horrible Dr. Bones (2000) - This low budget collection of three stories is called "Urban Evil" at Netflix and although it is not of the highest quality there are some fun things in it. The stories Demonic Tunes, The Killing Kind and Hidden Evil are three completely different stories without the connecting tissue often used in these kind of films. You would think that since the title included Dr. Bones that he would be the character that either appears in each story or that he would be the "crypt keeper" type character introducing them. Unfortunately he is just the main villain in the first story and is not seen again. Why Netflix changed the name of the disc is beyond me, was it conscious to connect Urban with the all black cast? I understand that each story is about city characters but really.
Demonic Tunes is the story of a young band that tries for a starring gig at a local club. The club run by Dr. Bones (Darrow Igus) and his assistant Theodora (Rhonda Claerbaut) is looking for the right sound to intertwine their nefarious plan with. He is a voodoo doctor with a skin problem who is tired of zombies who have to be dead. Bones comes up with the idea that if he performs the ritual sacrifice while broadcasting the magic through music then he will control the living listening audience the same way he controls the dead sacrifice victim. Its a great plan but he needs just the right music to make it work.
This is where the band The Urban Protector comes in. Lead singer Lisa (Sarah Scott Davis) and her players Wanda (Tangelia Rouse), Pookie (Derrick Delaney) and Phil (Danny Wooten) audition and have just the sound that Dr. Bones is looking for. Only there sound man Jamal (Larry Bates) notices that things are not quite right with this setup. Will he be able to save his friends from the mind control of Dr. Bones? The climax of the film is at the first concert with the band playing upstairs and the voodoo priest performing his ritual downstairs, wired into their sound system. Jamal who notices the wire running through the entire club to Bone's cellar room interrupts him, but is he too late? The story end rather quickly and in a really simplistic way that is not very satisfying.
The Killing Kind is a story of a family rap group who takes a stand against a local drug kingpin. Originally titled "Ragdoll (1999)" and release the year before this DVD the version in this trilogy must have been severely edited because it really seems like parts of the story are missing. After embarrassing the Kingpin, the thug goes after the Gran (Freda Payne) of the family rap group. There is a scene where family leader Kwame (Russell Richardson) uses his grandmother's voodoo magic to call the Shadow Man (Frederic Tucker) for protection. This magical being asks for a payment in return for the magical protection, and the flustered Kwame promises him anything. That was not a smart move as Kwame finds out. Shadow Man brings to life a ragdoll to deal with the drug dealing thugs. It is very reminiscent of the little African doll in the 1970's Trilogy of terror in that the doll is evil and will kill the thugs. Problem is that for each thug the doll takes the price is someone that Kwame loves is also killed. In quick order the doll does its deeds but when gran finds out that Kwame has used black magic she has to intervene to save the rest of the family. With the help of the surviving sister Teesha (Jennia Fredrique) the family attempts to break the deal with the Shadow Man. Is it possible? Will the family be safe from the Kingpin? Like I said earlier the edits to this story really hurt the final product and although the story completes you are left with the feeling that you did not see the whole story.
The final story "Hidden Evil" concerns the releasing of an evil spirit in a condemned former school for freed slaves, in South Central LA. I know it seems a bit of a stretch and it really is. The slave in question was locked in the basement of the school after killing 5 other slaves and drinking their blood for some kind of ritual? Originally entitled "The Vault (2000)" it is very original if a bit unbelievable. Set in modern LA and there is a group of kids from Crenshaw High with their history teacher Mr B (Ted Lyde) heading to a condemned school to try to save what they can of the heritage of the building. They know it was once a school for ex slaves but are not aware of the evil ghost in the basement. Director James Black does a decent job in this low budget horror story. You can read my review of that film by clicking the link above. The students are reasonably competent actors, Michael Cory Davis, Michael Maurer, Austin Priester, Kyle Walker, and Parrish Washington as well as the beautiful Shani Pride.
Overall this trilogy is a bit of a mixed bag. I have seen worse and I have seen better. Unfortunately some of the acting is just not up to snuff and the ideas not thought out quite enough. Still if you see this one in a discount bin it may not be a total waste of time. One really positive thing about the set of stories are all the black character are not black stereotypes. Sure there are character stereotypes, the evil record producer, the vengeful drug dealer, or the geeky student, but they are not necessarily race based and that is refreshing. In each film there are positive black characters with drive and motivations outside of race. The "N" word is never used and for the most part the protagonists are all positive.
Know this is low budget and not the highest of quality but might be worth a view, I want to recommend it but the films are not really that good. Sure I enjoyed them but I am not sure many other people will.
Rating (4.1) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.