John Ary's Aint It Scary Reviews #18 Of 31!! TALES FROM THE HOOD!!
John Ary here with another installment of Ain’t It Scary Reviews. Today, we’re watching an anthology of terrifying tales featuring a soulful funeral director.
It’s rare that a horror movie’s main motivation is to teach rather than scare. Tales from the Hood sets up a series of parables aimed squarely at young African-American males. Each story in the anthology preaches a message while using the tried and true tactics of its horror forefathers.
The movie begins with three young men, presumably gang members entering a funeral parlor run by a seemingly crazy mortician. He’s like the soul godfather version of the cryptkeeper or Rod Serling, telling horrific stories to the three gang members about the bodies in the coffins. The violent teens just want the drugs that are hidden somewhere in the funeral home, but the mortician has other plans for these thugs. The four stories presented involve weighty issues like police brutality, child abuse, racism, and black on black violence. Each parable feels like a well-made Twilight Zone episode, choosing to scare the audience with cutting social commentary rather than obsessive gore. The stories themselves don’t feel overly original and for the most part, you see the ending coming from a mile away, but they are effective and end with a satisfying results.
The movie benefits from having some familiar faces show up throughout. Wings Hauser plays a racist corrupt cop to a tee. David Allen Grier gets the chance to play against type as an abusive father and husband. Corbin Bernsen nails his role as a former KKK politician. Rosalind Cash brings a powerful presence to the screen as a behavioral scientist performing secret tests on gang members. But Clarence Williams the Third will be the one actor most fondly remembered for his role as Mr. Simms, the undertaker with a chilling secret. He keeps the proceedings fun and helps lighten the mood after each macabre story.
Although Spike Lee is an executive producer on the movie, the real force behind it is Rusty Cundieff. He wrote and directed it and also starred in one of the tales. Cundieff never lets the lessons trump the horror. Even if you don’t care about weighty issues like the need for positive male role models, the thug life or what it means to be an Uncle Tom, the film can still be enjoyed as an earnest horror anthology, full of monsters, possessed dolls, lab experiments and the undead.
Tales from the Hood is currently streaming on Netflix. It’s also available on DVD here.
Check back in tomorrow for another Ain’t It Scary Review as a group of Nazis learn the catastrophic secrets of a mysterious stone structure during World War II.
Here’s a look back at the Ain’t It Scary Review installments that you might have missed:
The Ground Rules to the Project
#1 Son of Frankenstein
#2 Scream, Blacula, Scream!
#3 Black Sabbath
#5 Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
#6 Invisible Invaders
#7 The Mummy’s Curse
#8 Lord of Illusions
#9 Night of the Demons
#10 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
#11 The House of the Devil
#12 Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
#14 The Catman of Paris
#17 Werewolf of London
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Oct. 18, 2012, 8:32 a.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 8:32 a.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 8:35 a.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 8:48 a.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 8:49 a.m. CST
is an absolute classic. "Tales from the Hood" has two strong stories, and two weaker stories. The best has the gang-banger and the skinhead next to each other in cells, and the skinhead says that they have a lot in common: they "both like to kill niggers." Wow. THAT was a classic moment.
Oct. 18, 2012, 8:53 a.m. CST
by John Ary
I've always been surprised that Cundieff didn't get more chances to direct features. "Fear of a Black Hat" is the 90's rap equivalent of "This is Spinal Tap" and should have been seen by more people. He's a very talented guy.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:03 a.m. CST
This movie was really bad! Young African Americans in the mid 90s deserved a better horror film directed at them.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:07 a.m. CST
by Monnie Knapp
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:16 a.m. CST
I actually watched this last week...wow, I really remember it being a better film. So terrible. But the politician and the slave dolls segment was pretty good.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:30 a.m. CST
I liked this more as a pre-teen/teen growing up more than I do now. I also liked rap music back then too. Then I grew up. I always thought the voodoo slave dolls looked like Little Penny from those Sprite(?) commercials and the No Diggity music video.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:42 a.m. CST
by The Shropshire Slasher
Tales isn't too bad.
Oct. 18, 2012, 10:30 a.m. CST
by Nerd Rage
And still kill people? You'd think it would be enough to scare a few straight.
Oct. 18, 2012, 11:16 a.m. CST
by Christian Sylvain
Seeing David Alan Grier play that role was a shock after so many years of watching in living color. Great stuff.
Oct. 18, 2012, 12:59 p.m. CST
Fool. Roach. Roach is also the guy with peanut butter in his mouth and couldn't say Allan Burr. It was just like having his tongue cut out.
Oct. 18, 2012, 1:25 p.m. CST
small black marionettes. that always stayed with me.
Oct. 18, 2012, 1:28 p.m. CST
Said the title track
Oct. 18, 2012, 1:44 p.m. CST
CB4 had come out shortly before "Fear of a Black Hat" and bombed, and Cundieff believes that hurt his film. In fact, there is a track on the CD soundtrack where Ice refers to the curse of a "CB4 flop" which is pretty funny.
Oct. 18, 2012, 4:26 p.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 4:47 p.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 8:55 p.m. CST
by Christian Sylvain
The part that always sticks with me was when the daughter got blood on her white dress, and the parents threw her into a tub of boiling water just to clean it. Horror movies were truly fucked up back in the day. Gotta love 'em.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:14 p.m. CST
And insightful commentary throughout. Which aint bad for a horror movie.
Oct. 19, 2012, 12:36 a.m. CST
Right...3 hoodlums, 3 coffins...were they that stupid?
Oct. 19, 2012, 10:18 a.m. CST
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