Directed by Rusty Cundieff [Other horror films: Tales from the Hood 2 (2018), Mr. Malevolent (2018), Tales from the Hood 3 (2020)]
This is one that I’ve seen once before, and I recall enjoying it, but seeing it again shines an even brighter light on the film, because I now think it’s one of the best anthology horror films of the 1990’s.
Honestly, competition isn’t that high, as most anthology films usually falter in one or two of the stories, but Tales from the Hood boasts not only four pretty decent stories, but a solidly amusing framing sequence right out of Tales from the Crypt, with a very classic Amicus feel.
Of all the stories, the only one that I didn’t absolutely love is the final story, titled ‘Hard-core Convert’, but I’ll be honest: as a white guy who barely knew any black people until college, I don’t even know if I really have a right to say much on this one.
The comparison between the violence committed on blacks by racist whites to the violence committed on blacks by other blacks (gang violence, primarily) struck me as somewhat troubling in it’s nature, but then again, as I’m not at all black, and have little experience with the experiences they deal with on a daily basis, especially in areas overrun by gangs, I admit that this is something I don’t think I know enough about to comment on. I’ll simply say that while the story was certainly one that made me think, the implications (seemingly ignoring the poverty and lack of upward mobility that leads many into the gang life in the first place) bothered me.
I think the best story is difficult to choose, but I’d likely go with ‘Boys Do Get Bruised.’ It’s certainly the most moving of the stories, and I definitely thought that it really stood out in a genre that sometimes comes across as callous and cold. I especially enjoyed both Rusty Cundieff’s and David Alan Grier’s performances, and while the ending wasn’t necessarily amazing, I think the story had a lot going for it.
‘KKK Comeuppance’ and ‘Rogue Cop Revelation’ were both pretty good, and also topical to today’s rather racist climate, unfortunately. I’d probably give the edge to ‘Rogue Cop Revelation’, almost for the pure joy of seeing racist cops killed for their atrocious actions of killing a black community leader. Cops like that, and those who defend said cops (which seems to be a vast majority of the corrupt police force), are utterly without virtue, and seeing, even in a fictional movie, the revenge so rightly deserved taking place brought me a lot of joy. There’s joy in seeing a racist politician taken down too, no doubt, but the police seem more solidly protected from the consequences of their racist actions than do politicians (just look at all the police officers who get off on murder charges when they’re clearly guilty).
On a related note, I suspect that while many of the stories in the film are well-crafted, including the framing story (though the conclusion is both expected and ultimately a little on the corny side), if one’s a conservative, or a racist, they may take issue with the film. That’s not to say that some conservatives couldn’t enjoy the film for what it is, but given the issues that the film tackles, I think it’s safe to say that some would definitely be turned off, claiming the film carries with it a ‘political agenda.’
As it is, I’m nowhere near conservative, so I had no such problems enjoying the film. Really, looking through the 1990’s anthology films, I struggle to find one that get’s anywhere close to matching how much I enjoyed this one. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie had one pretty great story, but was otherwise forgettable. Two Evil Eyes ultimately didn’t do anything for me. I’ve not seen either movie titled Campfire Tales (from 1991 and 1997), nor Quicksilver Highway (1997), and I really didn’t care for Body Bags (1993). Looking at the competition, there’s not really any choice, and even without comparing Tales from the Hood with underwhelming movies, I think it stands on it’s own merits. Well worth the watch, and definitely one that I’d go back to.