If the title to 1995's Tales from the Hood sounds (eerily?) similar to Tales from the Crypt, that's largely because it is, right down to the creepy ass old guy running the string of vignettes that comprise the movie. Updating the spooky formula of the Twilight Zone and Tales of the Crypt was nothing new, even in 1995, nor is it something that we haven't seen since (*cough Flava Flav's Nite Tales cough*). Unlike Mr. Flav's attempt at horror, however, Tales from the Hood is actually worth your time.
A blend of Crypt and vintage Twilight Zone, Hood takes the other worldly stories those shows mastered and shoots them up with a clip full of both modernity and 90's gangsta culture. Which is what you get when you have Spike Lee on board as an Executive Producer, I suppose.
The other worldly often takes a backseat, however, with the film focusing more on the woes of modern society and personal tales. Thus, we get drug dealers instead of aliens, wife beaters instead of gremlins, and racist politicians instead of a machine that can predict the future. Often times, the premises cling to just enough of the supernatural to keep them planted within the genre.
There are notable exceptions, however, namely the one featuring zombie hunting down the corrupt, racist cops who killed him and the one featuring a pack of cannibalistic dolls possessed by the spirits of former slaves.
Those are, uh, a little less subtle.
Supernatural elements aside, one other constant featured throughout the vignettes are the themes found in other African American works. The film touches about woes like absentee fathers, keeping drugs out of communities and police harassment, skillfully blending the campy terrors with actual ones.
The final vignette, centered around the attempted rehabilitation of Crazy K, a gangster shot in a retaliation attack, is particularly riveting. Put through psychological trauma at an experimental facility in lieu of prison time, Crazy K is eventually confronted by the spirits of his many victims while locked in a sensory deprivation chamber. When his doctor appears in the room and asks him why he's killed so many African Americans, Crazy K blames anyone he can think of and demands to leave, telling the doctor he doesn't “give a fuck” if it is his last chance. Instantly, he wakes back up at the scene of the attack, already shot and with three rival gangsters' guns, still screaming “I don't give a fuck” just before they pull the trigger.
Dunn Dunn DUNNNNN.
Of course, Tales from the Hood totally has its flaws, most prominent being poor acting. At times, the performances seem better suited to the type of bullshit ABC Family or Lifetime manages to cobble together a few times a year. Despite this, though, the originality of Tales From the Hood still manages to shine through the dark specter of bad acting that has doomed so many other films.
And hey reader! Just in time for Halloween. Why not give Practical Magic a rest this year and check out something new?