Netflix Adventures 02: “Tales from the Hood”



Title: Tales from the Hood

Genre: Horror

Subgenre: Anthology Film

Vintage: 1995

Director: Rusty Cundieff

Netflix’s Lying Description: “In an experience more frightening than their worst nightmares, three friends tour a funeral home with a creepy mortician (Clarence Williams III) in this Spike Lee-produced horror anthology. Along the way, they hear a story about each of the corpses. From cops turned bad to a child with uncanny powers, a bigoted politician tormented by voodoo dolls and a drug dealer who undergoes sensory rehab, all of the spooky tales have racial implications.”

What I remembered: I’ve seen this movie before, but all I recollected was Clarence Williams III chewing the scenery and the trick ending, in which – OMG! SPOILERS! – it turns out we were in Hell all along! AAAAAAAAAH!

Why I was pleasantly surprised: This movie is fabulous. Recently, I haven’t had much luck with horror movies in general and horror anthologies in particular. Too often, these films get so wrapped up in trying to make the audience squirm that they neglect to make the audience think. Tales from the Hood is a horror movie with a message, and the real boogiemen of the film are the specters of institutionalized racism represented in the film by corrupt cops, bigoted politicians, and marauding gangs of disaffected youth. The imagery isn’t  subtle. For example, in one hallucinatory montage director Rusty Cundieff juxtaposes a violent gangster rap song against photos of real life lynchings, while in another psychedelic sequence he draws visual parallels between American prison culture and slavery. In a third sequence a terrified bigot attempts to ward off the nightmares that confront him by pummeling them with the American flag. It’s not subtle, but it sure packs a heck of a punch.

What’s the best part: The movie has a great sense of humor. Tales from the Hood is a film that realizes how goofy some of the subject matter is, and it has no qualms about mixing in gags among the grotesqueries. The dialog is crisp and snappy, especially among the trio of gangsters trying to pretend that they aren’t unsettled by the spooky surroundings of the funeral parlor. And while Clarence Williams III plays his role for high camp and melodrama, other actors play their parts straight. Particularly noteworthy are David Allan Grier in a chilling turn as an abusive step-father and Lamont Bentley as Crazy K, a criminal who comes unhinged when confronted with the spirits of the innocent people he has slain.

What I learned:

  • Everybody, regardless of their ancestry, thinks that dolls are creepy.
  • This is not, in fact, the Terror Dome.
  • Even hardcore gangsters scream like little girls when confronted with Clarence Williams III, maestro of the diabolical.

What’s coming next: The gods of the random number generator decree that the next adventure shall be…



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