Tales from the Hood

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Tales from the Hood
Hoodposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRusty Cundieff
Produced byDarin Scott
Written byRusty Cundieff
Darin Scott
Starring
Music byChristopher Young
CinematographyAnthony B. Richmond
Edited byCharles Bornstein
Production
company
Distributed bySavoy Pictures
Release date
  • May 24, 1995 (1995-05-24)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6 million
Box office$11.8 million[1]

Tales from the Hood is a 1995 horror comedy drama anthology film directed by Rusty Cundieff and executive-produced by Spike Lee. The film presents four short urban-themed horror stories based on problem concepts that affect the African-American community in the order of police corruption, domestic abuse, institutional racism and gang violence; all presented within a frame story of three drug dealers buying some "found" drugs from an eccentric and story-prone funeral director.

Frame story and segment plots[edit]

"Welcome to My Mortuary" (beginning)[edit]

In South Central Los Angeles, a trio of drug dealers, Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De'Aundre Bonds) and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe Jr.), arrive at Simms' Funeral Home to purchase some drugs from Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III), the mortuary's eccentric owner. Mr. Simms claims that he found the drugs in an alley, and has them safely stored in the mortuary. He asks the dealers to help him get the drugs, and as the four make their way through the building, relates stories about some of the dead bodies in the funeral home. The first casket contains the body of Clarence Smith, a man who was rumored to have heard voices of the dead calling his name.

"Rogue Cop Revelation"[edit]

During his first night on the job, young black police officer Clarence Smith (Anthony Griffith) is taken by his new partner, Newton (Michael Massee), to the scene of what initially appears to be a routine traffic stop of a well-dressed black man. When Smith runs the car's license plates, he learns that the man is in fact Martin Moorehouse (Tom Wright), a city councilman and black rights activist who has recently been on a crusade to eliminate police corruption in the city. Smith watches in horror as Newton, along with fellow officers Billy (Duane Whitaker) and Strom (Wings Hauser), brutally beat Moorehouse with their nightsticks and vandalize his car. When Smith insists that Moorehouse should be taken to a hospital, two of the officers appear to agree. Smith tells Newton that Billy and Strom should be reported for what they did, but Newton tells Smith that officers are not to break "the code" and rat each other out. Strom and Billy drive Moorehouse's car to the docks. Strom shoots the battered Moorehouse up with some of the heroin he, Newton, and Billy have been dealing, plants some in his car, then pushes it into the water with Moorehouse still inside. Moorehouse is posthumously and falsely labeled a hypocrite.

One year later, Smith has left the police force and is now a guilt-consumed drunk. On a walk in his neighborhood, he sees a mural of Moorehouse. Smith then has a vision of a crucified Moorehouse haunting him with the words "Bring them to me!" In response, Smith convinces the three police officers involved in the death to meet him at Moorehouse's grave. Once there, the officers begin to insult Moorehouse, with Strom urinating on Moorehouse's grave and then ordering Billy to do the same thing. As Newton and Strom prepare to kill Smith, a zombified Moorehouse bursts from the grave to drag Billy beneath the ground by his genitals. Moorehouse's coffin bursts from the ground, opening to reveal Billy's mutilated corpse with Moorehouse clutching Billy's still-beating heart.

Strom and Newton flee in horror. A lengthy chase ensues, with the two cops fleeing by patrol car. As Newton is driving the vehicle, Moorehouse jumps on top of the vehicle and decapitates Strom. Terrified, Newton exits his vehicle and shoots its gas tank, though the ensuing explosion doesn't put down Moorehouse. Moorehouse then chases Newton into an alley, where he telekinetically throws used hypodermic needles into the cop's body, pinning him to Moorehouse's wall mural. After Newton is killed, his body melts into the mural, becoming a painting of himself crucified.

His vengeance nearly complete, Moorehouse accosts Smith, asking him why he did not help him when he was being beaten. The story ends with Smith in a mental hospital. Two orderlies outside his cell mention that he killed the officers and that he used to be an officer himself. Moorehouse is never mentioned.

Stack, Ball, and Bulldog think Mr. Simms is crazy after hearing the story. After looking into another casket, the contents of which are not seen, Mr. Simms tells them about a boy named Walter.

"Boys Do Get Bruised"[edit]

Walter Johnson (Brandon Hammond) is a quiet and sensitive boy, who shows up to school one day with bruises around his cheek and eye. Walter's caring teacher, Richard Garvy (Rusty Cundieff), notices the bruises and asks what happened. Walter claims that he was attacked by a monster. A few days later he again shows up with a bruised arm. While the other children play, Walter sits inside and draws a boy named Tyrone, one of the school bullies. Walter crumples up the drawing, causing Tyrone to suffer spontaneous injuries.

Later that night, Mr. Garvy visits Walter's home and asks Walter's mother, Sissy (Paula Jai Parker), about the monster. Sissy claims that Walter's injuries are the result of his own clumsiness; she then tells Walter not to reveal anything about the monster to anyone else. As Mr. Garvy is leaving, Sissy's abusive boyfriend, Carl (David Alan Grier) comes home: seen through Walter's imagination, the audience learns that Carl in fact is the “monster.” Thinking that Walter has exposed him and called him a monster, Carl begins to terrorize Walter and then whips Sissy with a belt when she intervenes.

Mr. Garvy turns around to check on Walter, and sees Carl beating Sissy through the window. Mr. Garvy bursts into the house and begins to fight Carl. With Carl's attention elsewhere, Walter grabs a drawing he made of the monster, and begins to fold and crumple it. Carl's body crumples and collapses in a similar fashion. Sissy stomps on the wadded-up paper to kill Carl. Finally, Mr. Garvy gives the paper to Walter, who burns it. Sissy and Walter look on, relieved as Carl's body is being burned.

Back in Simms' Funeral Home, Carl's burnt and mangled corpse is revealed to be inside the coffin. The gangsters close the casket, causing a doll to fall off a nearby shelf. For his next story, Mr. Simms shows the doll, originally found in a home in the South, to Ball, Stack and Bulldog, explaining that it is not any ordinary doll, but a vessel for a lost soul.

"KKK Comeuppance"[edit]

Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen) is an obnoxious and racist Southern senator, and a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. The senator is in his office filming a campaign commercial when he sees protesters outside the office. Jewish and African-American groups have teamed up to protest against Metger for being a racist, a former Klansman, and for setting up his office at an old slave plantation previously owned by his grandfather, Nathan Wilkes. One individual, Eli (Art Evans), tells the reporter that the plantation is haunted by dolls animated by the souls of Nathan's previously tortured slaves, all of whom were violently massacred by Nathan after hearing that they would be freed at the end of the Civil War. He warns everyone that it is not a myth.

Meanwhile, Metger and his African-American "image-maker" assistant Rhodie (Roger Guenveur Smith) notice a large painting of Miss Cobbs, the hoodoo witch who created the dolls and transferred the slaves' souls inside them, and the dolls themselves. Metger says racial slurs to Rhodie, who attempts to ignore his rantings. Metger also discusses the myth of the tortured slaves, referring to the dolls as "Negro dolls". One of the dolls is seen under the floorboard as Rhodie leaves. While Metger and Rhodie are working on Metger's media skills, Rhodie suddenly falls down the stairs to his death. At the funeral, Eli warns Metger to leave the house before he ends up like Rhodie. In the limo after Rhodie's funeral, Metger notices the doll and orders his African-American driver to pull over, so he can throw the doll out the window into the street.

Later, he rewatches Rhodie's footage and realized that he died because he tripped over the doll. After noticing a blank spot on the painting, Metger comes in contact with the doll living and moving and has a fight with it. Metger is injured, but he manages to stop the doll by beating it with an American Flag. He also damages the painting, which starts to bleed.

Metger takes the doll outside to his porch and ties it to a dart board. He then blasts the doll with his shotgun, and goes back inside to rant at the painting. However, in the midst of his rant, Metger realizes more doll images in the painting have faded to white. Metger finds the previously blasted doll in the hallway, which attacks again and chases Metger into his office. Metger manages to lock the doll outside but sees that the painting has all the doll images faded to white. Terrified, Metger turns around to see an army of dolls. He covers himself in the American flag as the dolls converge and devour him. Miss Cobbs (portrayed by Christina Cundieff, director Rusty Cundieff's mother) then disappears from the painting and manifests herself in the room, holding the first doll in her arms, satisfied at the carnage taking place before them.

Meanwhile, the dealers have grown impatient and ready for the drugs, not wanting to listen to any more of Mr. Simms's strange stories. Ball notices a corpse in another room, and alerts the others to come and see it. When Simms asks them if they knew the man inside the casket, Bulldog says it was just someone they had seen around their neighborhood. Mr. Simms proceeds to explain the final moments of the man known as Crazy K.

"Hard-Core Convert"[edit]

Jerome "Crazy K" Johns (Lamont Bentley) is a violent gang member and homicidal psychopath who has killed many people mercilessly. He is driving down the streets of Los Angeles when he encounters his rival, Lil' Deke (Ricky Harris), whom he pursues and guns down. In retaliation, Lil' Deke's associates shoot at Crazy K. Before they can finish him off, the police arrive at the scene and gun down the attackers. Crazy K, badly injured but still alive, is arrested and sent to prison, serving a life sentence.

Four years later, Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash) arrives at Crazy K's prison cell and transfers him to her facility for an experimental trial, mentioning that he'll be released from prison if he agrees to it. Crazy K meets an inmate (Rick Dean) who is a homicidal white supremacist and raves about killing black people and the end of days for blacks. This angers Crazy K and causes him to punch him in the face. The man then asks Crazy K the race of the victims he killed, silencing Crazy K. The man grows fond of him and he tells him that there will be a few black people who will be spared as long as they think like him.

Crazy K is told by Dr. Cushing that she purposely put him there to meet someone who is just like him. She then tells him that she has been hired by the government to administer a rehabilitation process on Crazy K, in hopes that he will change his ways. Crazy K is put through a process of torture to make him learn the consequences of his actions. First, his hair (with a "K" cut into the front) is shaved off. He is forced to visualize images involving KKK members and victims of lynching, interspersed with grisly footage of gang violence and his own actions. Dr. Cushing goes into the fact that Crazy K killed many innocent people without remorse or second thought. For the next part of the trial, Crazy K is put into a sensory deprivation chamber, where he is confronted by the souls of the people he has killed, intentionally or otherwise. Despite hinting at his own personal abuse in his childhood, Crazy K refuses to accept any responsibility for his crimes, and Dr. Cushing tearfully warns him that he won't get another chance for forgiveness.

Having refused the opportunity to redeem himself, Crazy K is transported back to the moment when he was shot. He is finished off by the three gunmen, who leave his corpse abandoned in the street.

"Welcome to My Mortuary" (ending)[edit]

Crazy K's killers are revealed to be Stack, Ball, and Bulldog. Unnerved by the revelation, they threaten Simms, telling him he'll be killed unless he reveals how he knows this, and gives them their drugs. Simms leads them deeper into the funeral home and tells them their "reward" is in three closed caskets. Each drug dealer finds that the casket he opens contains their corpse, revealing that they were dead all this time.

After disarming them, Simms explains that after the murder of Crazy K, they were killed by Crazy K's associates as retaliation. Bulldog asks Simms how they could be dead when they are all seemingly alive, together in the same funeral home. Simms tells them that the funeral home really is Hell and transforms into Satan. The drug dealers scream in horror at this sight, as the walls of the funeral home shatter to reveal an inferno that consumes them. They are left to burn with all the tortured souls while Satan laughs.

Cast[edit]

Welcome to My Mortuary (framing segments)
Rogue Cop Revelation
Boys Do Get Bruised
KKK Comeuppance
Hard-Core Convert

Soundtrack[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
U.S. U.S. R&B
1995 Tales from the Hood: The Soundtrack
  • Released: May 9, 1995
  • Label: 40 Acres and a Mule Musicworks/MCA Soundtracks
16 1

Production[edit]

According to Cundieff, the idea for "Tales from the Hood" came from a one-act play he performed a few times in L.A. called "The Black Horror Show: Blackanthropy."[2] Shortly after the play wrapped, Cundieff said Darin Scott suggested they collaborate on a horror movie. "It has to be about something. It can't just be, 'We're scaring you,'" Cundieff said. [2]

The "Tales from the Hood" story, "Boys Do Get Bruised," is loosely based on an incident from Cundieff's childhood. [2] He remembered visiting a friend's house, who lived down the block from his childhood home in Pittsburgh, and seeing his friend's younger sister "gagged and hogtied" in the basement. Cundieff said he went home and told his dad, who was a detective in the juvenile division of the Pittsburgh police: "He said, 'I can't mess with those whites.' And he's probably right. He just felt that even with his badge and with his position he wasn't in a position to deal with that," Cundieff told Jordan Gass-Poore', host of the podcast Pod of Madness. [2] "I've always had an interest kind of in, I don't know if it was because of that moment, but child abuse, domestic violence is always kind of had some weird place in my head."

Cundieff's parents appear in the story, "KKK Comeuppance." His dad is the preacher who gives the eulogy to Rhodie and his mom is Miss Cobbs. Of his dad's performance: "He had written a sermon. I'm, like, 'You can't say all this.' ... And then, of course, when I called 'Action!' he, like, got all nervous." His mom had the opposite reaction: "My mom was an introvert, but she was great. She had no problem. ... She didn't have any lines, but I told her, like, 'You know, look mad, like, you know, when you were angry at me,' or something like that." [2]

Release[edit]

The film was released theatrically on May 24, 1995. Later that year, the film was released on VHS and LaserDisc by HBO. In 1998, HBO Home Video released the film on DVD, which has since gone out of print. According to Cundieff, Universal Pictures currently holds the rights to the film, but there were no prints available to reissue the film on the Blu-ray format in 2015.[3] In 2016, a remastered version of the film was released to Amazon.com, iTunes and Crackle. In November 2016, it was announced that the film was to be made available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, which was released on April 18, 2017.[4]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception for Tales from the Hood has been mixed. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 50%, based on 20 reviews, with a rating average of 5.1/10.[5]

Sequels[edit]

A sequel entitled Tales from the Hood 2 premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in July 2018, also written by Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott, who shared directorial duties for the film.[6] Keith David replaced Clarence Williams III as Mr. Simms due to Williams' retirement from acting.[7] It was released on home video on October 2, 2018. Another sequel, Tales from the Hood 3, was released on October 6, 2020.

Tales from the Hood 3 stars Tony Todd and was filmed in Winnipeg. It features four stories, including the wraparound story. "The stories, you know, they're not as big as the first Tales," Cundieff told the podcast Pod of Madness. "But I do think that the stories are stronger, overall, than the second one, and the look of the film is better, a lot to do with the locations that we found."[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tales from the Hood at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Twenty-Five Years Later And Still Haunted In The 'Hood'". podofmadness.com. Pod of Madness. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  3. ^ Alter, Ethan. "How 'Tales From the Hood' Went From Cult Hit to Hardcore Halloween Classic". yahoo.com. Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  4. ^ Mims, Sergio. "CULT HORROR FAVORITE 'TALES FROM THE HOOD' FINALLY COMING TO BLU-RAY NEXT YEAR". shadowandact.com. Shadow And Act. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  5. ^ "Tales From the Hood (1995) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  6. ^ "'Tales From the Hood 2' Debuting at Fantasia International Film Festival". Horror.
  7. ^ Kohn, Eric (13 July 2018). "'Tales From the Hood' Director Rusty Cundieff: Why It Took 20 Years to Make a Sequel to His Black Horror Anthology". IndieWire. Retrieved 10 October 2020.

External links[edit]