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Title: Tales from the Hood

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:74

The 80s and 90s are full of some of the most nostalgic pieces of horror cheese known to man. I am guessing that it’s due to my childhood years being smack dab in the middle of them, but the 80s and 90s have some of my favorite movies in general in them. For a horror fan, no one can beat the 80s, but the 90s still had enough fun films to keep you interested in that genre. “Tales from the Hood” is one of those cheesy entries that just begs for you to put on those rose-colored nostalgia glasses on and just sit back and grin while you watch. It’s not good, it’s not great, but it’s HILARIOUSLY self-aware at its own awfulness to the point where you can’t help but love the African American horror anthology flick.

Horror anthologies area staple of the genre, but also notoriously hard to pull off well. Multiple short stories in one film make for a truncated viewing experience where each individual story is meant to have a complete arc within 15-30 minutes. Something which IS pretty hard to pull off. Stories need time to be fleshed out and even though most stories in an anthology tend to have some sort of overarching connection, each sub story needs its own room to breathe. “Tales from the Hood” has some of these same problems, but only gives us about 20 minutes per story to really get to know the characters. The “hook” of the film comes from the fact that all of these stories are about black people from the “hood’, or other various points in history. Racial tensions, old slavery stories, and modern 90s Tupac style “gangsta” stories, all of them told from the point of view of a creepy old mortician named Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III) , who is walking a group of thugs through his funeral parlor in a what seems to be a drug sale transaction.

There’s something fun and goofy about “Tales from the Hood”. Rusty Cundieff and crew know full well that the premise of the film is pretty ridiculous and just revels in a sort of self-aware “wink and nod to the audience” mode the entire movie. The stories are individually creepy and disturbing, but there is a distinct tongue stuck firmly in cheek with all of the stories, so much so that you can almost say that it is laughing along with the audience at all the bad jokes and cheesy situations. Mr. Simms stories of death and dismemberment are brutal, bloody and disgusting, but gleefully rolling around in the proverbial mud with sly dark jokes and the like.

Each of the four different tales told to the three thugs have different themes and different messages in them. The first is about a black man who is bullied and beaten to death by three drug dealing cops while a young black rookie officer stands by and watches. However, a year later the rookie calls his three former partners in “crime” out to the cemetery for a little bit of a reunion. Only thing is, they’re the center of attention at this reunion and the dead corpse is back for a little revenge. The second deals with a young child who is showing up to school with bruises and welts on his body much to the chagrin of his teacher. This child seems to have a proclivity for bending the truth and covering things up with his drawings, as he draws a picture of a monster who is terrorizing him at night. Disturbed by what he sees this teacher decides to go to the young boy’s home and see what’s up, but runs into something much more sinister than he expected.

The third tale starts to get darker and darker (although probably unintentionally the funniest of the stories) by pitting us up against Duke Metger, an ex KKK member who is running for political office in the southern states. While he’s fooled a lot of people, Duke is still a racist pig who sets up shop in a local plantation that is said to be cursed by a voodoo wielding black woman over a century ago. While the public may have fallen for his act, many have not and when you’re in a haunted house, things that you didn’t know existed may come out to haunt you. The last and most somber tales is the one that will tie all of those stories together and complete the arc with Mr. Simms and the three gang bangers. A young man named Crazy K is caught murdering a rival and shot. However, he ends up surviving and making it out of the situation, only to be sent to a mysterious institution where he is meant to be “rehabilitated” through some very “experimental techniques”. A kind of social commentary on minorities killing their own kind in record numbers.


Rated R for graphic brutal violence and strong language

Video :3.5stars:
For a 90s schlock fest “Tales from the Hood” looks really rather nice on Blu-ray. The film retains a healthy amount of 90s grain on screen without showing dithering or compression issues, and the fine detail from scene to scene is really good. The daylight shots in the third story with the racist senator is the most vibrant as there are little, to no, shadows to mess up the clarity. There’s some smoothness to the image, but nothing too wild as it doesn’t appear to be major DNR or anything, but rather the shooting style from the 22 year old style of shooting low budget films. The blood is the most obvious “fake” aspect of the film as it’s like “Shaw Brothers” orange most of the time, but the rest of the old digital and prosthetic effects are rendered nicely (besides the cut and pasting of the voodoo dolls). Black levels are a bit murky at times, but still show off plenty of detail in the lair of the mortician, or the inner sanctuary where Crazy K has his sensory deprivation.

Audio :4stars:
Scream Factory has done their obligatory stance of giving the viewer multiple English audio tracks, but this time it’s not the usual 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix along with a 2.0 mix. This time BOTH tracks are 2.0 DTS-HD MA (the film’s original audio mix) but one is listed as the English track and the other as English (Alternate). I have no information from Scream themselves as there was none in the press release, but it appears that the Alternate track is most likely the original un “polished” mix as it sounds a bit thinner and with a few more hisses and pops than the default mix. Both are good but I would say that the new mix seems to be a bit more robust for a 2.0 track and a decent amount cleaner with no distortions that I could hear. LFE is fairly mild, but it does come out to play in the final story with the 90s rap music blaring throughout the story. Dialog is crisp and clean and there’s only a few minor hisses that come up here and there.

Extras :2.5stars:

• NEW Welcome To Hell: The Making Of TALES FROM THE HOOD – Featuring Interviews With Director/Writer Rusty Cundieff, Producer/Writer Darin Scott, Actors Corbin Bernsen, Wings Hauser, Anthony Griffith, Special Effects Supervisor Kenneth Hall, And Doll Effects Supervisors Charles Chiodo And Edward Chiodo
• Audio Commentary With Director/Writer Rusty Cundieff
• Vintage Featurette
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Original TV Spots
• Still Gallery

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Tales from the Hood” is a walk down memory lane, but a fun walk at that. The tongue in cheek humor and cheesy 90s horror tropes actually work most of the time if you’re willing to suspend a lot of disbelief and go into “Tales of the Crypt” style humor for your enjoyment. The collector’s edition comes with some really awesome artwork and good technical specs, and even some pretty middle of the road extras for Shout/Scream release (it’s not as jam packed as say the “Jeepers Creepers” films, but nowhere near as slim as “Death of Salesman”). For those who have those rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, this is a great collector’s edition of a film I never thought would see the light of day on Blu-ray. Good for a fun, cheesy romp.

Additional Information:

Starring: Clarence Williams III, Corbin Bernsen, Joe Torry
Directed by: Rusty Cundieff
Written by: Rusty Cundieff, Darin Scott
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (Alternate)
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 98 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 18th 2017

Buy Tales from the Hood: Collector's Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Fun, Cheesy Watch

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