May 22, 2015 Tales from the Hood 20 Years Later
The year was 1995, and Anthology films were very few and far in between. Even when one did manage to come to the box office, it seemed that the creativity and worthiness to fellow enthusiasts was scarce. That wass until May 24th, 1995, when a sleeper cult classic silently made its way into theaters and the hearts of Horror buffs around the world. That film was Tales from the Hood. Distributed by Savoy Pictures and making almost twelve million dollars at the box office, Tales from the Hood did not take off as a favorite right away. What made the film so unique was the way the urban settings along with the Horror themed plots bring us a hip and scary movie that was very much unlike its other Anthology predecessors. Directed by Rusty Cundieff (Fear of the Black Hat 1993, Chapelle’s Show 2003-2006) and executive produced by Spike Lee (Summer of Sam 1999, Oldboy 2013), the film was later released at the end of 1995 on VHS by HBO Home Video, launching it into what is now Cult Classic status.
The film is driven by four stories and one wrap-around story that all deal with controversial topics that African Americans, along with every race, have to deal with each day. The strong messages that are entwined into the Horror elements is what makes this film stand out from all the others. The wrap-around story titled Welcome to my Mortuary is set in South Central, Los Angeles, where three gangbangers (Joe Torry, De’aundre Bonds, Samuel Monroe Jr.) arrive at a funeral home to collect supposed drugs that are waiting for them. They meet the over eccentric funeral director, Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III: TV’s Mod Squad, American Gangster 2007), who then begins to tell the boys different macabre tales about each deceased victim at the funeral home.
The first story, titled Rogue Cop Revelation, is a strong topic that is bigger today than it ever has been. It centers among a young black rookie cop (Anthony Griffith: Curb Your Enthusiasm 2005) who gets tossed into the mix of police brutality with a city councilman and black rights activist Martin Moorehouse (Tom Wright: TV’s Seinfeld). The councilman ends up dead by the hands of the vicious racist cops along with the torn and guilty rookie cop. The only thing is, Moorehouse does not plan on staying dead; rising from the grave and exacting justice on those who wronged him.
The second story, titled Boys Do Get Bruised, is a tale about a little boy (Brandon Hammond: The Fan 1995, Mars Attacks 1996) who fears a monster is in his house. The boy’s teacher (played by the director Rusty Cundieff) begins seeing weird marks and bruises on the boy’s body and decides to further investigate. The teacher finds out that this is far worse than any fairy tale monster and he and the boy set out to rid the beast from ever abusing the hurt boy again. The segment also stars David Alan Grier (TV’s In Living Color, Jumanji 1995) in a role very different from his previous films, and shows as the boy’s step-father.
The third segment, titled KKK Comeuppance, is about a racist Southern Senator (Corbin Bernsen: Major League films) who is planning on buying an old slave plantation out of spite, despite the warnings of it being haunted by “killer dolls” and an old slave woman. The hate-filled Senator ignores the warnings and finds out first-hand what prejudice and racism can endure, and what happens when the tables are finally turned.
The final segment, Hard-Core Convert, is a story that focuses on “black on black” violence. A violent gangbanger (Lamont Bentley: TV’s Moesha) that is finally caught after all the atrocious slayings he had committed, is thrown into a high-tech prison that is focused on making this man realize the wrongs he has made in his life. The facility turns out to be more than meets the eye, and it just may be too late to turn his troubled and tortured life around.
Tales from the Hood was released on DVD in 1998 by HBO video, but has since gone out of print, thus resulting in pricey internet mark-up for the rare item. It still, to this day, brings in more and more fans of different generations to embrace the message and entertainment this film has to bring after twenty years. The film is important in the Horror genre along with others as it makes a poignant statement to be recognized with the “horrors” of reality in the projects and the ghetto.
Often overlooked, it is perhaps one of the best Horror films from the ’90s and is centered around an important message outside the terror it invokes. Let us not forget the film’s amazing soundtrack featuring twelve cuts from some of Hip Hop’s most legendary stars such as Wu-Tang Clan, Gravediggaz, Spice 1, and Scarface, which resulted in a gold selling status. As the crazed Mr. Simms once said, “Welcome to Hell!” We will be welcoming this cult classic for another twenty years!