Tales from the Hood (1995)

Pittsburgh born Rusty Cundieff co-wrote and directed this portmanteau film, which takes the structure of an Amicus film and positions it against the problems of African-Americans circa 1995 (sadly, these problems haven’t changed all that much in the past 22 years).

During the framing sequence, Welcome to My Mortuary, the drug dealing team of Stack (Joe Torry), Bulldog and Ball arrive at the Simms’ Funeral Home to buy “the shit” — drugs that were found in an alley. As the four men make their way through Mr. Simms’ (Clarence Williams III, Linc from TV’s The Mod Squad) building, he tells the story of some of his past customers.

Rogue Cop Revelation

On his first night of patrol. Clarence is taken by his partner Newton (Michael Massee, The Crow) to join two other officers, Billy (Duane Whitaker, Pulp Fiction) and Strom (Wings Hauser, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time) as they attack Martin Moorehose (Tom Wright, the hitchhiker in Creepshow 2), a civil rights activist.

Clarence stands up for the man, but is told not to break the police code. The officers shoot the battered Moorehouse up with heroin and then push it into the water. As the man had fought to keep drugs — supplied by bad cops — out of his community, he is seen as a hypocrite.

A year later and Clarence has left the force and wanders the streets, drunk. Finding a mural of Moorehouse, he is haunted by a vision of the man crucified and screaming, “Bring them to me!” He then lures the other three officers to the dead man’s grave, where they laugh at him and proceed to piss all over it.

As Newton and Strom make a move to execute Clarence, Moorehouse emerges from his grave to drag Billy underground with a handful of his genitalia. A coffin bursts from the ground, with Billy’s corpse lying inside it and Moorehouse holding his beating heart.

A chase ensues, but obviously, the cops never saw Creepshow 2. Moorehouse beheads Strom and chases Newton through an alley, where he crucifies him to a wall with used hypodermic needles and then melts his body into his mural in a psychedelic scene.

Moorehouse then asks Clarence where he was when he needed him. The story ends with two mental hospital orderlies watching Clarence in a straightjacket, noting that he was a dangerous cop killer.

The second casket tells a story all about how Boys Do Get Bruised. Walter (Brandon Hammond, Menace II Society) is the new kid in school, constantly abused by bullies. A kindly teacher, Richard Garvey (writer/director Cundieff), takes an interest and visits his home one night.

Walter has a power that enables him to damage people through his drawings, a power that he’s used to stop a bully already. But he can’t stop the real monster in his life — his father, who beats both him and his mother once Garvey leaves. He returns to intervene, but Carl (David Alan Grier, In Living Color) is too powerful, beating all of them down until Walter crumples his drawing and decimates the man.

We see Carl’s twisted and burnt corpse as Mr. Simms shows the three gangsters a small doll, which is part of the next story, KKK Comeuppance.

Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen, Major League) is pretty much David Duke. He was in the KKK, he’s racist and has an office inside a haunted slave plantation. Well, maybe not that last part.

While reporters gather outside, character actor Art Evans appears to tell everyone that the plantation is haunted by the souls of the people murdered there. Now, they live inside the body of small dolls.

Of course, those dolls are going to kill everyone they can. And they sure do. Much like Trilogy of Terror, the rest of this chapter involve Metger battling one, then several of the dolls until he is consumed by them.

The drug dealers are now angry, as they just want to get “the shit” and get out. But when they see the body of someone they know, Crazy K, they have to hear the story of the Hard-Core Convert.

After following one of his enemies and killing him, Crazy K is attacked by three men who shoot him repeatedly before they are all killed by the police.

Yet somehow K survives and is taken to a rehabilitation building that’s something out of a mad scientist movie. Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash, The Omega Man) hopes to use her mental techniques to retrain his mind, but he proves to be too uncaring to be saved. There’s a great sequence here that predates Get Out where he is placed into sensory deprivation and basically goes into his own mind.

Because K decides that he’s fine with his crimes, his mind goes back to the moment where he was shot by the three men and he dies. And the three men?

We’ve been following them all along. They are the gangsters and “the shit” is their closed coffins, with their bodies inside. And Mr. Simms? He’s Satan. And this is Hell.

Yep. The Amicus ending!

I was really struck by the gorgeous camerawork in this film, which elevates it beyond being the low-budget schlockfest that I had always believed that it was. Turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong. Cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond has quite the pedigree, working on films such as CandymanThe Man Who Fell to Earth and Don’t Look Now.

This movie was a welcome Christmas gift from Becca. The new Shout Factory release of the film looks amazing in blu-ray, with a crisp transfer and bright colors. And the new cover art is amazing!

3 thoughts on “Tales from the Hood (1995)”

  1. Great article. I randomly watched this movie one night and my love of the show “Tales from the Crypt” kept me interested. But really, the treatment, overall feeling and ending of this movie made it a complete masterpiece for its time… in my humble opinion.

    Like

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