1995’s ‘Tales from the Hood’: Still Shocking, Creepy, and Anti-Racist (review)

tales2

Horror anthology which is, as the title suggests, often set in the ‘hood. There are four segments with a wraparound story: three gangsters in a funeral home (Joe Torry, De’aundre Bonds, and Samuel Monroe Jr.) are being told about the corpses by the proprietor (Clarence Williams III). “Rogue Cop Revelation” concerns Clarence (Anthony Griffith), a rookie cop who stands idly by while idealistic Governor Moorhouse (Tom Wright) is beaten to death by cops, spurring Moorhouse to exact a ghostly revenge. “Boys Do Get Bruised” shows Walter (Brandon Hammond), a little boy with a monster in his house: his mother’s (Paula Jai Parker) abusive boyfriend (David Alan Grier). “KKK Comeuppance” deals with Duke (Corbin Bernsen), a southern contender for governor, who hates affirmative action and is a former Klan member. “Hardcore Convert” is about Jerome (Lamont Bentley), a pro at Black-on-Black violence; he’s given an option to get out of jail by Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash)–but it won’t be easy.

tales4
These dolls are Duke’s comeuppance; yes, there are jokes online about sending them to Trump

I remember loving this film when I was younger, and since it was produced by Spike Lee, I was expecting greatness. I was disappointed in some ways. It can be melodramatic, overacted, and populated by stereotypes of both white and Black characters, like the thuggist gang members who make statements like the conversation below, transcribed by IMDB:

Bulldog: Hey, wait a minute. You got your gat, man

Stack: Yeah, I got my shit.

Bulldog: Well if a dead mothafucka come fuckin’ wit you, you kill his ass. Ya understand me?

Stack: Yo hold up, Bulldog. How’m I supposed to kill somthin’ that’s already dead, man?

Bulldog: WHAT?

Stack: Yeah, how’m I supposed to kill somthin’ that’s already dead? That’s like killin’ some shit twice, man.

Ball: Yeah, like some refried beans ‘n some shit. Man, I never understood that, man. Why the FUCK you gonna refry some beans, man? Why not just fry that shit right the first time, and get out?

tales5
Jesus, it’s heartbreaking how timely this image still is, 25 years after the movie was released

Those are mighty strikes against the movie, but it’s not without its charms. The violence is grotesque but inventive, like when Moorhouse, rising from the grave, finds a cop peeing on it; he grabs him by the penis and bashes his head on the tombstone. The whole film is an outcry against discrimination. It examines crooked white politicians, poverty, police brutality, and reviles the violence perpetrated against Black people in our society–by both the Black and the white. It can be a little heavy-handed (there’s also some Obama-esque shaming of Jerome for not busting himself out of being poor single-handedly–but mostly he’s being condemned for killing people), but often it’s very powerful, as in Dr. Cushing’s impassioned speech to Jerome. Which naturally I can’t find on YouTube. I can’t even find decent movie stills, garg! Here’s a portion, also from IMDB:

Dr. Cushing: What’s the matter, Jerome? You don’t like seeing black people get killed? But isn’t that what you’ve been doing all your life? You know, Jerome, Cain was the world’s first murderer. He slayed his brother. And how many brothers HAVE YOU SLAIN?

But a mere transcription can’t capture Cash’s delivery. If you haven’t seen the ding-dang movie, do yourself a favor.

tales7
Look, it’s director Rusty Cundieff as Richard!

 

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: