Tales From the Hood (Blu-ray)

April 28, 2017 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

One of the things I do miss about the 90’s (this was the decade in which I spent the majority of my youth) is that it was just so experimental and different than pretty much any other era. There were several trends, grunge music took over, video stores were all the hype and browsing the music stores and just having fun. While the internet was around then, it was still a relatively “fresh” thing, and nowhere near where it is in today’s world. I bring this up because I remember seeing a TV ad for Tales from the Hood and wanting to see it right then and there. My parents were divorced and my dad lived in Florida, but he’d make frequent trips to come visit me in Mississippi (where I currently reside). Both, my mom and dad were fairly lax when it came to me viewing R rated material, but I couldn’t wait for my dad to take me to see Tales. Admittedly, he’s a very hard guy to please when it comes to many things, especially movies. Much to my surprise, he loved Tales as much as I did. I think of now if a movie like this came out, our first action would be to look it up either on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB or one of the many other movie sites. That’s all great, but the sense of discovery and going into a movie fresh is somewhat lost in today’s world. Time and technology doesn’t go backwards, but it’s hard not to be somewhat nostalgic for that time. I also don’t think a film like this would get made today or at least not the way it turned out back in ’95. OK, enough with my rambling. Let’s discuss the film, shall we?

The best way to describe Tales is a horror/comedy type mashup with 4 separate segments or tales, if you will all told by a more-than-a-little creepy funeral manager. If you recall the TV show Tales from the Crypt, this isn’t far off, but it’s like an extended episode with more than one segment. We follow three thugs coming to this funeral parlor to meet Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III) to pick up “the shit” which we all know what they mean. He doesn’t have to, but he prolongs this as much as he can by telling them the 4 separate tales that’ll then play out for the audience. Most viewers will guess early on who Simms really is, but I won’t reveal that. The first segment involves a rookie cop who stumbles upon some older officers beating up a black man. There’s a lot more that happens, including a framing of a murder and much corruption. This first segment definitely starts us on a strong note and is actually quite creepy and a bit comical as well. The second segment involves a young student who seems to be getting abused at home. His teacher notices this and questions the boy and his mother. The boy insists it’s a monster doing this, but the teacher obviously doesn’t believe him. This is arguably the most interesting of the 4 tales and the less said about it, the better. Our third story involves a white politician, Duke Metger played by Corbin Bernsin who is living in an old house that once occupied several slaves. Duke is not very well loved among the black and Jewish community, and even hires a black man to help spruce up his image, and win over more votes as well. There are paintings in the house with dolls that appears to change often. These dolls are in fact coming to life and eventually plan to attack and kill Duke. This segment is more than a little creepy and holds up surprisingly well after all these years. Our last segment is also my least favorite one. It centers on a gangster named Crazy K (Lamont Bentley). He’s sent to prison for multiple murders. In the prison, it’s ruled by white supremacists, but K only murdered black people. His life just might be spared, but the viewer can see.

I was eagerly anticipating this Blu-Ray release when I first heard of it. I owned the DVD several years back, but it’s nice to see this in HD. It’s also great to see it hopefully garner a new audience. It’s a rare type of film, and done especially well. It has all the elements there, including social commentary, but it never feels preachy or heavy-handed. I was also surprised even after several viewings just how scary it is. The three thugs are all well-acted and Williams III is more than capable as the funeral manager. Really, what can be better than having a funeral manager be the lead character in a film like this?  If you’re like me and have been waiting for this release or you’re simply curious to see the film, don’t hesitate to pick this release up.

Video: How’s it look?

The image here is wonderful and is also a considerable step up from the old DVD from long ago. The image has been cleaned up nicely and never seems dated in any way. The transfer is AVC encoded with a 1.85:1 ratio. Details are strong throughout with colors appearing clean and smooth and flesh tones accurate as well. Background shots were easy on the eyes as well. All things told, this transfer satisfies.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track also delivers the goods and adds to the atmosphere of the film. There’s a nice balance to things here, and vocals were always crisp sounding. It really involves the listener and enhances the experience.

Supplements: What are the extras?

While the number of features might not seem overwhelming, the quality is what counts here. The disc is housed in a standard case with a reversible cover and a paper slipcover.

  • Audio Commentary – A very thorough and engaging track with the co-writer/director Rusty Cundieff. There’s no shortage of info here as all topics are discussed. Well worth a listen.
  • Welcome to Hell: The Making of Tales from the Hood – In this newly produced, nearly hour long documentary, no stone is left unturned. We see several interviews with the cast and crew as they discuss the origins of the story and the impact the film had. We also hear about how today CGI would likely be used where this film didn’t (and couldn’t) rely on that. Several other topics are discussed here to help make this worth checking out. It’s one of those documentaries you start and just can’t stop watching. It’s that interesting.
  • Vintage Making of Featurette – This is about six minutes and is largely promotional in nature. It’s still worth viewing once.
  • Trailer/TV spots
  • Still Gallery

The Bottom Line

I can’t speak highly enough of this film and this new release. The features are informative and entertaining and the film holds up remarkably well. For already established fans and all others, this is definitely worth seeking out.

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