Tales from the Hood

11/26/2018 07:24

Film: Tales from the Hood

Year: 1995

Director: Rusty Cundieff

Writer: Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott

Starring: Clarence Williams III, Corbin Bernsen and Joe Torry




This was a film that I watched a lot growing up. For whatever reason, my dad showed my sister and I this film when it first was released. We both loved it. The official synopsis for this is a funeral director tells four strange tales of horror with an African American focus to three drug dealers he traps in his place of business.


As the synopsis states, we begin with three gangbangers coming to a mortuary at night trying to score some drugs. There is Stack (Joe Torry), who is scared to go in. He is forced to by Ball (De’aundre Bonds) and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe Jr.). They meet Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III). Mr. Simms leads them to different coffins where strange deaths have happened to tell them the tales of each. The film also wraps up with what the truth is about where they are and their own fates.


The first tale is a cover-up story. There are two white police officers, Strom (Wings Hauser) and Billy (Duane Whitaker) who have pulled over a black politician, Martin Moorehouse (Tom Wright). They decide to take matters into their own hand to shut him as he is running police officers off the force by exposing them for dealing drugs in the black neighborhood. Newton (Michael Massee) and Clarence (Anthony Griffith) pull up during the stop. Clarence tries to get them to stop, but Newton keeps him away. He is then caught up in the cover-up. The others are veterans, so he goes along with it in the end. There’s a problem, Martin doesn’t stay dead and comes back for his revenge.


What is crazy about this story is that it is very relevant today. We have police officers who are committing acts of violence similar to this. There has been quite a bit of outrage and seems to always be in the news. This is interesting as well that Martin is zombie like, but also has attributes of being a demon. This definitely feels more like a EC/Tales from the Crypt style story. It really gets the film off on the right start.


The next tale is about a bullied boy, Walter (Brandon Hammond) who starts out at a new school. After a run-in with a bully, his teacher Richard (writer/director Rusty Cundieff) notices bruises and marks not from the fight. He tries to help, but Walter keeps stating that there is a ‘monster’ that does this to him. We learn that the monster is real and he terrorizes the family every time he comes home. This one features his mother Sissy (Paula Jai Parker) and Carl (David Alan Grier).


Growing up I thought this was an interesting story and how it plays out. As an adult, this one hit me even more with the subtext of it. I felt horrible for Walter and seeing him crying in his bed in terror really messed with me. This one much like the first tale, as that twist at the end of those that are wrong getting what is coming to them.


For the next tale is about a man who is running for public office, Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen). He is a known racist and a former member of the KKK. He moves into a plantation home where many slaves were kept and killed. This is to the outrage of the people in the community. He hires someone to help fix his image, Rhodie (Roger Guenveur Smith). There is a local legend that a woman helped the spirits of the dead slaves by putting them into dolls. A local crazy man thinks that the dolls will get their revenge on him.


This again is another one that is quite relevant in these modern times. That are a lot who think that the current president is a racist and that by not condemning the white supremacist rally that happened not too long ago. This film takes it more to the extreme though, as Duke was really an actual member. It is just pretty crazy this film came out in 1995 and these issues are still here. The creepiness of the dolls is something that I’ve really like since the first time I saw this one.


The final story follows a black man who kills anyone that crosses him. He goes by the name of Crazy K (Lamont Bentley). He chases down someone and guns him down, he is shot by three of the other guy’s boys. The police show up and he is giving a choice of a new rehabilitation, method, one that is different and experimental, it will cost him is life if doesn’t conform. Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash) is the one that is conducting this new method.


I do have to say, this last one has the best twist of any of the stories. I didn’t see it coming the first time. When I really think about how it plays it, it really is an interesting concept. I also like the duality that is brought up by the man he is put in a cell next to. This man is a Neo-Nazi, who thinks there will be a race war where the whites will have a select few black people that will serve as slaves afterwards. He likes Crazy K in that he kills mostly members of his own race. This film also borrows a lot from A Clockwork Orange, which is one of my favorite films of all time.


Pacing for this film is great. It never hits a lull and I think all of this short stories are given enough to establish and then give us the outcome. I never get bored with this one and it was one that I watched a lot growing up. It always seemed to be on a movie channel and I could jump in whenever. Now the logic isn’t there for the second story and I wanted more from the third. I do think that the subtext though is there and it develops very well to a satisfying ending.


There are a lot of actors in this film and I don’t really have any problems with any of them. Williams as Mr. Simms is great. He is such an eccentric old man and I just love it. The three gangbangers are scared of the place they are in, but they are sucked into each story like we are. This film does portray white people to be bad, but that’s what they are going for. All of the ones in this film are horrible human beings. I think that the portrayal of these roles are good by solid actors. I do have to say that it was weird to see Grier as such a jerk in this film, as he normally does comedy. I have really nothing negative to say and thought the acting was good across the board.


Effects for the film weren’t bad either. They aren’t necessarily great, but they didn’t go CGI heavy which is interesting. This is when CGI really started to take off and it didn’t look great. The needles that fly in the first one look pretty good. How the second story ends is a little comical, but I won’t fault it too much. I liked how they brought the dolls to life in the third story, but I wanted to see more of them. We get that at the very end, but it wasn’t enough. I thought the blood looked good in this one as well. Overall they were solid.


The score of this film was also pretty good. The first two have solid selections for what was needed.The third, there is an eerie violin song used that I thought was perfect. During the climax of that story, it helps build the tension of the scene as well. For the fourth, we get a music video with graphic images of lynchings and other African-Americans being killed. This was quite possible and sad this is our history. It didn’t really stick with me for the other segments, but it didn’t hurt them either.


After this viewing, I’m confident to state that this is a really good horror film.  All the stories deal with African-American and some of them can be quite creepy. The acting isn’t overly great, but for the most part it isn’t all that bad. Most of the tales, the Caucasian is the bad guy, but the stories are realistic enough that it is believable as we are still seeing it today. They all have a solid EC/Tales from the Crypt feel. The pacing overall is good as were the effects and the score of the film. I would recommend giving this film a viewing for its social commentary or for just a really good film.


My Rating: 9 out of 10