“Welcome to hell, m*therf*ckers!” Alright, now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk Tales from the Hood. Released on May 24th, 1995, Tales from the Hood is an urban horror film that plays out in the vein of British anthology films such as “Tales from the Crypt” (hence the name). It starred a plethora of young, up incoming. Co-written by Darin Scott and Rusty Cundieff, and directed by the latter, Tales us unlike any other anthology film we’ve discussed before. Most anthology films have that one segment that just doesn’t work, that is nonexistent here. Each of these segments have a true purpose and the film would be completely lacking if any were removed. So let’s delve deeper into this release, as one of my favorite anthology films receives the Scream Factory treatment.
The film opens on three young African American gang members attempting to retrieve drugs from a funeral home. As simple as this may sound they are stopped by the funeral home’s owner, Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III). The strange yet attention grabbing, Mr. Simms tells the trio that he found the drugs in a nearby alley, but they are safe. He will most definitely get them their “shit”. As they make their way to the drugs our “crypt keeper” tells of four unfortunate souls and how they received their comeuppance.
Our first tale may still be applicable to today’s society depending on your view point, but we here at Icon Vs. Icon steer clear of politics and the real world as much as possible! This story tells the tale of police brutality on a black politician looking to clear the streets of “dirty cops”. On his first night as an officer, young Clarence (Anthony Griffith) is taken by his partner Newton (Michael Massee) to what is seen to be a routine traffic stop. This turns south as the policemen, minus Clarence, begin brutalizing the man they’ve stopped. It is revealed that this man is Councilman Martin Moorehouse (Tom Wright). To save their jobs, and the jobs of other crooked cops, the officers beat Moorehouse, inject him with heroine, and send him and his car off of a dock. A year passes and Clarence begins hearing the voice of Moorehouse calling to him. What happens next is satisfying revenge in the most horrific way.
Segment two is the story of a young boy being haunted by a monster. Walter Johnson (Brandon Hammond) is a young boy who shows up to school one morning with multiple bruises. He claims that these bruises were given to him by the monster that visits him at night. He’s frightened by this being and copes with these fears by drawing pictures of the monsters that attack him. When young Walter is being bullied, he handles it by staying inside from recess and drawing a picture of the bully. When the teacher finds this drawing, and crumples it up, the bully’s bones inexplicably break. This segment, and I won’t go into further detail about it, is probably my favorite of the four. It takes an intense topic and puts a supernatural twist on it. This is a common theme with each of these segments.
Remember when I said we at IvI do not get political? I’m going to break that rule again when I state that this following segment is very reminiscent of a certain political campaign. At least the stereotypical version of it. Uhh…that’s it, SEGMENT THREE! Southern man and former KKK member Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen) is running for senator. During his campaign he takes residence in a former slave plantation. Rumors are that the plantation is haunted by dolls that contain the souls of the former slaves. You can probably guess where this is going and damn is it satisfying. Not much more to be said here, on to the next!
Our fourth and final segment is probably the most out there. Gang member, Jerome “Crazy K” Johns (Lamont Bentley) comes across a man who has wronged him and decides to retaliate in his own way. After being arrested he is offered the chance of freedom through a conversion process comparable to that of A Clockwork Orange. This segment is definitely the most graphic of the four when it comes to real life violence. Crazy K’s actions in “black on black” violence is compared to that of the racial violence in the south. As this segment ends we are taken back to the funeral home for one last scare.
“Tales from the Hood” may not be the best anthology film out there but it is the most solid. Each segment holds up in its own way. The film is also unique in that the evil is within the human characters while the horror comes in the form of justifiable vengeance. Each segment basically ends in the happiest of horrific ways. I definitely recommend this film to everyone. This is the way to watch it as the film looks glorious! Now, let’s take a look at the disc.
Scream Factory means features! Actually, there’s only one new feature here but it’s a good one. There’s a brand new, hour long “Making Of” featurette that features interviews with Co-writer/Director Rusty Cundieff and Co-writer/Producer Darin Scott, as well as multiple actors within the film. I would’ve loved to have heard from Clarence Williams III, but alas his absence is disappointing. The featurette itself is fantastic, it goes into detail on each segment within the film. A notable takeaway is the way this film was marketed. Since I’m of the younger crowd, I wasn’t really familiar with the marketing of this film. Sadly it was marketed as a spoof, which I can assure you it is not. Other features include an audio commentary with the writers, a vintage “Making of” featurette, and trailers. Darin Scott stated on the Shock Waves podcast, that there was a new commentary recorded but the files were corrupted after recording. This would’ve been amazing to hear but at least we have a few new interviews.
This film stands up today. The soundtrack, filled with hardcore gangsta rap and horrorcore, truly sets the background for a meaningful film. It’s a film with a message disguised as a horror film. If you’re questioning picking this release up, don’t! Go get it now! Once again Scream Factory is the way to go!
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason Voorhees emerging from the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the crowds at pop culture events up and down the east coast. You love him and he loves you!