‘Tales from the Hood’ (1995)

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Halloween Horror Movies

'Tales from the Hood' (1995) (USA • Rusty Cundieff • 1995)

A rarity this one – an African-American-created horror anthology, directed, co-written, and acted by Rusty Cundieff (the mind behind the excellent gangsta rap themed-comedy ‘Fear of a Black Hat’, which ‘CB4’ totally, utterly, and unashamedly ripped nearly scene for scene), and executive produced by Spike Lee.

Opening with a gangsta skeleton title sequence, segueing into the introduction of three wannabe gangstas expecting to pickup drugs from a funeral home, apparently found by a spooky mortician (the mighty Clarence Williams III), who operates as the Cryptkeeper for this triptych of morality tales – each the unfortunate story of a resident of the home…

The first story, “Rogue Cop Revelation”, covers rookie police officer Clarence, a black officer with a guilty conscience after failing to stop fellow (white) officers from killing an innocent black anti-corruption activist, arranging the death to look like a random murder… On the anniversary of the killing, now an out of control alcoholic ruined by guilt, a familiar voice commands Clarence to bring them to visit its owner… This effective little segment features an appearance from schlock legend Wings Hauser, and is sound tracked by Billie Holiday’s haunting version of ‘Strange Fruit’, written in reference to the lynching of blacks in America.

The second of the segments, “Boys Do Get Bruised”, features Walter, an unhappy young black kid who hears monstrous growls in the night, as an unseen horror unsuccessfully tries to get into his room. The next day at school, after a playground fight, his teacher (Cundieff) notices older bruising on Walter’s face, which he suspects to be the result of parental abuse. That night, the source of the growling returns, gaining entry and nearly revealing its form before retreating. The next morning, Walter’s teacher notices fresh bruising, and, convinced Walter is the victim of abuse, decides to pay his parents a visit…

The third tale, “KKK Comeuppance”, is that of a right wing politician (Corbin Bensen), a former Ku Klux Klan member who is pitted against a modest but potent force after taking a former plantation with a bloody past as his campaign headquarters. As is widely known locally, the plantation is home to the mass grave of the slave victims, whose souls were, according to legend, subsequently transferred into dolls by a mysterious “voodoo woman”…

The final chapter, “Hard Core Convert”, is the story of murderous gang member Crazy Tre. In jail after nearly being killed by his victim’s homies, Tre is offered a chance of redemption via the ‘behavioural modification’ program, which looks suspiciously like a weird nineties bondage dungeon-cum-Bond villain’s lair. Upon Tre’s arrival, a series of elaborate procedures, overseen by a militant woman doctor (Rosalind Cash, in her final role), commence…

So, is ‘Tales from the Hood’ any good? Well, it does tick many of the boxes – a creepy host, a revenge story, a monster in suburbia, possessed dolls, a demented doctor, gangsta trappings, and the traditional sting in its tail. With its lean narratives, tight editing, inventive practical and visual effects, and even Clarence Williams and the wraparound trio playing it pretty straight, ‘Tales from the Hood’ is an engaging and entertaining take on a modern ‘message’ morality horror, each story taking a fantastic slant on issues relevant to the black community – particularly that of America in the mid-nineties. The sparse and atmospheric soundtrack is a nice touch too.

IMDB

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Will Phuq wrote this

Specialist in Munkeljuck, Schpamenfrugen, and Flippy-Pip, currently learning to yodel, while teaching himself Quantum Physics, yet still finding the time to continually yearn for his lost childhood hat; not forgetting that time he donated money to an attractive 'chugger' without even being asked to...