By Nick Durham
Tales from the Hood is an odd little movie given the era it was released and the talent involved in it. Released in 1995 and having Spike Lee as an executive producer, Tales from the Hood is what the title implies: a horror anthology film with an urban flavor. It’s managed to develop a cult following in the two decades since its release, even though it went largely unappreciated upon its original release. This wasn’t helped by the fact that after the film was released on DVD in 1998, it went out of print and it seemed the film would never see the light of day again on the home video market. Thankfully, Scream Factory has given the film a well-deserved Blu-ray treatment, and it’s more than worth your time.
The wraparound story of Tales from the Hood revolves around three gangbangers that go to the funeral home of the super eccentric Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III) to pick up some drugs that he’s acquired. During their stay, Mr. Simms relates four horrific stories to the trio. The first story is a tale of revenge from beyond the grave, as a slain African-American city councilman (Tom Wright, aka the homeless hitcher from the final segment of Creepshow 2) uses an alcoholic ex-cop (Anthony Griffith) to lure the three racist cops (Wings Hauser, Michael Masse, and Duane Whitaker) that murdered him to their demises. The second segment (and probably the best one) involves a young boy named Walter who learns how to vanquish the all too human “monster” that’s been making his life a living hell. The third story finds a racist senator (Corbin Bernsen) getting his comeuppance via the souls of murdered slaves in the form of little dolls, which is probably the most entertaining of the four segments. The fourth and final story a violent gangbanger receiving an experimental treatment to alter his behavior, which ends up tying in to the wraparound story and its absolute hoot of an ending.
I’ve always enjoyed Tales from the Hood, even if it is uneven more often than not. Directed by Rusty Cundieff (who also appears in the film), the film delivers in terms of gore, shocks, and pure entertainment; making it pretty damn enjoyable overall. Some of the stories feel as if they should have been longer (the second segment in particular), but considering they’re all crammed into a 98-minute film, we should be glad that they’re as solid as they are and don’t feel rushed or patched together given the film’s running time.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Tales from the Hood features a pretty good transfer of the film. There’s a new documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Cundieff, producer Darin Scott, and actors Wings Hauser and Corbin Bernsen among others. Alongside this is a vintage featurette from 1995, as well as a commentary track from Cundieff and Scott. There’s also the typical handful of trailers and TV spots as well, rounding out the package.
All in all, if you’ve never experienced Tales from the Hood before, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Even if urban-flavored entertainment isn’t your thing, but you dig horror anthologies, you should at least give this a look. For those of us that have fond memories of this film playing late at night on HBO in the 90s, this Blu-ray is definitely worth your money.