Tales from the Hood (1995)
Director: Rusty Cundieff
Starring: Corbin Bersen, Rosalind Cash, Rusty Cundieff, David Alan Grier, Anthony Griffith, Wings Hauser, Paula Jai Parker, Joe Torry & Clarence Williams III
Released by: Scream Factory
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
From Executive Producer Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing), Tales from the Hood unspools an anthology of urban frights set against the backdrop of inner city social issues as frightening as the monsters depicted in them. Nightmares and reality are forever blurred when a trio of hoodlums retrieving a stash of missing drugs from an eerie mortician find themselves subjected to several tales from beyond the grave.
Released in a dire genre year just ahead of Wes Craven’s postmodern slasher masterpiece rejuvenating audiences thirst, Tales from the Hood stands as one of the few crowning achievements from the lumpish decade that offers genuine frights with effectively delivered messages entwined in their narratives. Seldom seen during the scatterbrained era but nonetheless serving as one of the best anthology efforts of its day, Tales from the Hood’s urban slant provides a chillingly fresh perspective on a proven formula with its commentary on issues such as, police brutality, domestic abuse and gang violence unfortunately still potent today. Guiding his trigger-happy guests around his funeral home, Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III, Mod Squad) weaves a web of ghoulish stories in accordance with their own ethnic environment. When an African-American rookie cop watches on as a civil rights leader is attacked by corrupt officers, Rogue Cop Revelation finds his lack of action comes at a haunting price while, Boys Do Get Bruised finds a child’s fear of the monster in his closet foreshadowing the real-life domestic abuse he suffers and the power of his own imagination that puts an end to it in this Twilight Zone-esque episode. Furthermore, KKK Comeuppance centers on former Klansman and running politician Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen, L.A. Law) learning his former plantation homestead is overrun by vengeful slave dolls brought to life by stop-motion wizardry. Lastly, gang violence, hate and a failed attempt to rehabilitate a murderous convict in Hard Core Convert strikes genuine fear into the hearts of viewers with its grizzly imagery of real-life lynchings. While most films of its kind leave audiences cherry-picking their favorite segments, Tales from the Hood continuously tops itself throughout its duration with its seamless blending of terror and gritty, urban realism making it one of the most smartly conceived efforts of the 90s.
Reportedly thought to have no workable prints to remaster from, Scream Factory comes through to deliver Tales from the Hood with a strong 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Leaps and bounds better than its nearly decade-old discontinued DVD release, colors are striking while, skin tones are naturally pleasing with black levels, evident during the film’s overwhelming nighttime sequences, looking deeply inky with no intrusions of digital crush. Scant speckling traces aside, the transfer is a remarkable sight that will leave fans yearning for a trip back to the hood more than pleased with the results. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that handles dialogue sharply and emphasizes its rap soundtrack authoritatively, an Alternate DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 culled from the film’s LaserDisc release is also included for your listening pleasure. Joining its place alongside other worthy Collector’s Edition releases, supplemental offerings include, a vintage Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Rusty Cundieff also recycled from its LaserDisc release, the newly-produced and exceptionally well made Welcome to Hell: The Making of Tales from the Hood (56:13) featuring interviews from Cundieff, Co-Writer/Producer Darin Scott and several cast members, a Vintage Featurette (6:04), the Theatrical Trailer (1:41), TV Spots (3:26), a Photo Gallery (9:46) and Reversible Cover Art bearing the original 1-sheet.
Retrieved from Universal’s vaults after rampant requests from fans, Tales from the Hood is an underrated gem from a decade largely considered in peril with few redeeming genre efforts. A horrific journey of eerie episodes with much more on its mind than simply scaring its audiences, this socially conscious and wickedly fun frightfest is urban horror at its finest. Bestowed with new luridly crafted artwork by Joel Robinson (The Vincent Price Collections), Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition release brings the hood back to life with a sightly high-definition makeover and a quality serving of mostly vintage supplements while, its brand-new, nearly hour-long retrospective doc is the disc’s towering extra. Gather round the casket and don’t be left out on the streets without this recommended anthology of nightmares!