Why You Should Watch: Tales from the Hood (1995)

From IMDb: 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.

This well-written and complex anthology is one of those movies you will like the more and more you think about it. I’m not usually a fan of horror comedy or intentional cheese, but director/writer Rusty Cundieff and writer Darin Scott balance bits of comedy and cheese very well with horror and social commentary.

Including a delightfully unhinged performance by Clarence Williams III as Mr. Simms, the funeral home director in the wraparound story.

This is also a great film to watch if you want to explore horror and see a few interesting stories at once as opposed to one full-length single story. The anthology structure helps each story stay its welcome without dragging on or getting bogged down with filler. The moral tales are nuanced and put its obvious influence Tales from the Crypt to shame in terms of their larger societal scope and commitment to exploring provocative topics with empathy and earnestness. And if you are a fan of Get Out, you will definitely want to check this movie out.

The film explores police brutality against the Black community, domestic and child abuse, racism in politics, and Black on Black gang violence. All four stories are introduced in a wraparound story with a telegraphed but effective ending. This movie is extremely, and sadly, still relevant today.

“Rogue Cop Revelation” shows police corruption and the way toxic cultures can fester and push out those who try to undo them from the outside or within.

“Boys Do Get Bruised” is probably the least nuanced of the stories, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking and horrific given its subject matter of child abuse at the hands of a “monster” as the young boy calls him.

The third story “KKK Comeuppance” features a “former” KKK member running for office and his conservative Black “image maker” who helps him to appeal to voters. Duke Metker is a blatantly racist and swarmy blonde politician that will definitely remind you of the likes of Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump. When he disturbs the supernaturally possessed dolls in his plantation home, it gives the kind of cathartic ending one could only hope for in their wildest dreams.

“Hard-Core Convert” has a scene that is so disturbing Cundieff has received feedback from gang members that it made them rethink their choices after watching. It has given me the most to think about of all the segments, and its impact will stick with you.

The movie is noticeably focused on men, with only a couple female characters in two of the segments, breaking away from the typical trappings of modern horror revolving around female characters. Ironically, it felt sort of refreshing to see the focus shifted in one of the rare genres that usually focuses on female characters.

If you like this one, you will probably want to watch Tales from the Hood 2 and 3. Unfortunately the second movie is much less nuanced than the first, but I would still suggest checking the sequels out for some contemporary takes on the same structure and premise.

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