Tales from the Hood is a 1995 horror anthology film, directed by Rusty Cundieff. The film features four short Hood Film-themed horror stories, with a Framing Device that is itself a horror story. The film opens when three young gangstas—Ball (De'aundre Bonds), Bulldog (Samuel Monroe, Jr.) and Stack (Joe Torry)—in South Central Los Angeles visit a mortuary to buy drugs from its owner, the mysterious Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III). The drugs are stored deep within the building, and as Mr. Simms guides the men through the funeral home, he takes the time to narrate stories relating to his four most recent "customers." In his words, "Death - it comes in many strange packages."
Rogue Cop Revelation
Rookie cop Clarence Smith (Anthony Griffith) witnesses his partner Newton (Michael Massee) and fellow cops Strom (Wings Hauser) and Billy (Duane Whitaker) brutally beat city councilman and black rights activist Martin Moorehouse (Tom Wright), who has been on a campaign against police corruption. When Clarence tries to stop it, Newton convinces Clarence that Strom and Billy will take Moorehouse to the hospital; instead, they kill Moorehouse and posthumously ruin his reputation by planting some of the drugs they've been dealing in his car and injecting him with heroin. Guilt ridden, Clarence resigns from the force and becomes a drunk. One year later, he sees a mural of Moorehouse come to life, demanding Clarence to bring his killers to him. When he does, Moorehouse rises from the grave to exact his revenge.
Boys Do Get Bruised
Walter Johnson (Brandon Hammond) is a quiet and sensitive boy with an interest in drawing pictures who is bullied at his new school. He often shows up to class with various bruises, none of which comes from his bullies. His teacher, Mr. Garvy (Cundieff), suspects Walter is the victim of an abusive parent, but Walter claims that the bruises were caused by a monster that terrorizes him every night, to the point that he believes he must kill the monster before it kills him.
Duke Metzger (Corbin Bernsen), a character named for actual white supremacists David Duke and Tom Metzger, an obnoxious and highly racist former Klansman turned Senator decides to set up his gubernatorial election campaign in the former plantation of his ancestor, Nathan Wilkes, who killed all his slaves after the end of the Civil War rather than let them go free. It is rumored the plantation is still haunted by the ghosts of the slaves, who, thanks to a voodoo priestess, now inhabit dolls scattered throughout the plantation. True to form, Metzger ignores this, but the rumors are completely true, and the animated dolls are more than happy to settle for exacting brutal revenge on their killer's descendant.
In an apparent shout-out to Jacob's Ladder, violent and hardened gangster Jerome Johns, better known as Crazy K (Lamont Bentley) is gravely injured in a late-night ambush. Before he can be killed, the police end up killing his attackers, but Crazy K is still arrested, sentenced to life in prison without parole. Four years later, Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash) decides to test out an experimental method of rehabilitating prisoners, and asks Crazy K to be her test subject in exchange for being released from prison. Crazy K agrees and he is transported to her private facility, which soon proves to be a Kafka-esque nightmare, where he is put through horrific experiences that become increasingly surreal and nightmarish.
Back in the frame story, the dealers grow tired of Mr. Simm's storytelling and resort to threats to procure their product, but Simms has one last surprise for the trio.
A sequel, Tales from the Hood 2, was released in 2018, with Keith David taking over for Williams as Mr. Simms as he assists Corrupt Corporate Executive Dumass Beach in laying the groundwork for the morality of a new model of artificially intelligent police robot. A third movie Tales from the Hood 3 (released on October 6, 2020) has Tony Todd starring, as William, a lumbering man in his 50s, trying to outrun an unseen evil with a six-year-old child named Brooklyn, who tells stories to William distract them from said evil.
This film provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Carl isn't actually Walter's father, but he still plays a similar role, beating him and his mother Sissy for the flimsiest of reasons.
- An Aesop:
- Rogue Cop Revelation: "Inaction has consequences and your first response will always leave the biggest impact". When Martin Moorhouse was being harassed by the cops, Clarence did nothing and only decided to help a year later in an effort to atone. After Moorhouse killed the corrupt cops, he turns his attention back to Clarence and punishes him for failing to prevent his death in the first place.Moorhouse: "Where were you when I NEEDED you?
- When Crazy K tries to justify some of his murders as killing those who had wronged him, a little girl (Tasha Johnson) with a hole in her chest points out "I didn't do anything."
- Rogue Cop Revelation: "Inaction has consequences and your first response will always leave the biggest impact". When Martin Moorhouse was being harassed by the cops, Clarence did nothing and only decided to help a year later in an effort to atone. After Moorhouse killed the corrupt cops, he turns his attention back to Clarence and punishes him for failing to prevent his death in the first place.
- Affably Evil: Mr. Simms is sinister and creepy, and is clearly toying with Bulldog, Stack, and Ball, but he's still pretty charismatic and affable towards them, if a bit too story prone. He only begins their eternal torment in Hell after they pull their guns on him and try to kill him.
- And I Must Scream: Newton's final fate is to be transformed into a part of the mural of Moorehouse, crucified and forever in pain.
- Arc Words: Ah, the shit.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Done in two stories:
- Moorehouse kills the white cops who murdered him, then asks Clarence, the black cop who let them do it, "Where were you when I needed you?"
- Crazy K keeps holding to his gangbanger tough guy persona during his imprisonment and punches a creepy Neo Nazi for calling him a nigger. A moment later Crazy K is genuinely shaken when the Neo Nazi asks him, "Those people you killed, what color were they?"
- Asshole Victim:
- Ball, Billy, Bulldog, Crazy K, Newton, Stack, and Strom were all murderers, making it quite hard to pity their demises.
- Duke Metzger was verbally abusive even to his own staff members, a massive racist, and a former member of the KKK, earning him the well-deserved fate of being killed by the dolls inhabited by the ghosts of the slaves his ancestor killed.
- The Atoner: Duke Metzger claims to be this as part of his campaign. It's all bullshit, and he's still as massive a racist asshole as ever.
- Beard of Evil: Carl sports a beard, and is a truly vile domestic abuser.
- Big Red Devil: As detailed below, one of these puts in a memorable appearance.
- Creepy Changing Painting: The wall painting of Miss Cobbs (the voodoo priestess) in Metzger's house changes when the killer dolls are released one by one, with blank shapes appearing in their place.
- Creepy Doll: The voodoo dolls which carry the souls of murdered slaves from the plantation home that torment Metzger.
- Cycle of Revenge: In the final tale, Crazy K shoots Lil' Deke for killing a friend. In his later rehabilitation, he is confronted by the ghosts of people he killed, many as parts of other cycles, including some guys who hadn't even done the killing he killed them for and a little girl. In the end, he is gunned down by three other men in revenge for that last killing. Those men happened to be Stack, Ball, and Bulldog, the three protagonists of the wraparound tale. In the end, it turns out that they too were slain for killing Crazy K in the last tale, and are currently in Hell.
- Dead All Along: Ball, Bulldog, and Stack learn from Simms that they're actually dead, having been killed by Crazy K's associates as retribution for killing Crazy K, and that the funeral service they're visiting is actually Hell.
- Death by Racism:
- Duke Metzger is an avowed white supremacist who glorifies the legacy of his slaveholding ancestor. An immortal witch decides to punish him by having her reanimated puppets torment and kill him.
- Possibly Billy, Newton, and Strom, though in their own case they had further motivations, as the black politician they conspired to kill was threatening to expose their corruption.
- Defiant to the End:
- Crazy K when he was barely conscious when the 3 gang members from the mortuary shoot him to death.Crazy K: I don't give a fuck!!!
- Carl, even as he's been reduced to a crumpled heap of broken bones on the kitchen floor:"This shit ain't over yet, bitch!"
- Crazy K when he was barely conscious when the 3 gang members from the mortuary shoot him to death.
- Dirty Cop: Billy, Newton, and Strom deal drugs in a black neighborhood and murder a public reformer who spoke out against them.
- Dirty Coward: Clarence failed to prevent Martin Moorhouse's death and is punished for his cowardice by the revenant zombie Moorhouse by framing him the deaths of the corrupt cops since he rightfully blames him for standing idly by as the other cops assaulted him and later killed him. Newton and Billy are shown to be spineless as Newton refuses to report the other cops for their corruption and brutality and turns a blind eye to it, while Billy just follows Strom's orders without question.
- Downer Ending: All of the stories except for Boys Do Get Bruised end in a pretty sour note for the Protagonist. Downplayed with KKK Comeuppance and Hard-Core Convert, however, as the Protagonists in those stories got what they deserved.
- The Framing device ends in a Downer as well, revealing that Ball, Bulldog, and Stack are in hell. Though again, they're also murderous drug pushing gangsters who were willing to also kill Simms, so
- Domestic Abuse: Carl whips Sissy with a belt and regularly beats her son.
- Dying Dream: Crazy K is shot by three rival gangsters and arrested by the cops. In prison, he agrees to be put through an experimental therapy where he's shown pictures comparing black gang violence to KKK violence against blacks. Then the people he knows he's murdered show up to ask him why they deserved to die. Either it's a dying dream, or he's already in Hell. (Or at the very least, some form of Purgatory, which would fit with a lot of the symbolism in the segment, including the fact that the staff of the institution tend to dress in all white, the offer of redemption being accompanied by the need for purification, the state of torment while there, etc.)
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Newton is clearly disgusted when Strom begins peeing on Moorehouse's grave. Billy proclaims that it's pretty cool, but when Strom starts demanding he join him, Billy is blatantly reluctant about it, and Strom has to browbeat him into going along with it.
- Mr. Simms, who is Satan himself, sounds legitimately disgusted with Carl after he finishes telling Boys Do Get Bruised, even calling him a monster. It should be noted that since the bodies in the caskets are an illusion that Mr. Simms created, he is choosing to exclusively portray Carl's corpse as horrifyingly disfigured, burnt, and screaming, in sharp contrast to the other corpses that are peaceful and in pristine condition.
- Evil Is Petty:
- When Duke Metzger's slaveholding ancestor had to surrender his slaves at the end of the Civil War, he preferred to massacre all of them.
- And "Mr. Simms"'s prolonged toying with his three latest victims.
- Exact Words: At the start of the framing story, Mr. Simms assures the three drug dealers who pay him a visit that they'll soon be standing knee-deep in "the shit".
- Extreme Doormat: Billy is very weak-willed and easily browbeaten into going along with Newton and Strom, though he goes along with the beating and murder of Moorehouse of his own accord.
- Fan Disservice: Crazy K actually has a pretty nice physique, and it's put on display when he opts for experimental aversion therapy for his crimes (he's in what amounts to a dark-colored speedo for the duration of the scene), but it's hard to appreciate it considering what happens to him.
- Foil: Newton is this to Moorehouse. Moorehouse is a crusader against police corruption and, while he respects cops who do their jobs and follow the law, he desires to hold the cops who break the law and abuse their authority accountable for their actions. Newton justifies every corrupt action he and his cohorts commit on the grounds that they are cops, clearly believing that the role of being a cop means that engaging in downright criminal actions is okay, and his entire motivation is to get away with his corrupt actions.
- When the three gangbangers get impatient with Mr. Simms, he assures them "You'll get the shit. You'll be knee-deep in the shit."note
- In a subtler example, Mr. Simms blows smoke with a cigar at his lips in the interval before the 4th story and then puts it in his breast pocket without extinguishing it: an early hint that he's the source of the smoke.
- The rival gangsters that shoot Crazy K are shot themselves by the police. Even when that part and the rest of the story turn out to be a Dying Dream, there's still one detail that turns out to be right. Ball, Bulldog, and Stack really were shot to death afterwards.
- Freudian Excuse: Mocked by Dr. Cushing, who expects Crazy K to start blaming his parents, teachers, etc. for his own crimes. Instead, he blames the world.
- Gangland Drive-By: Several hit-and-run shootings appear in a montage about gang violence when Crazy K is being Mind Raped.
- Hate Sink:
- Carl is a short-tempered domestic abuser who beats both his girlfriend Sissy and her son Walter every night, to the point Walter has become convinced Carl is a monster who will eventually kill him (which is true, in a roundabout way). When Mr. Garby tries to defend them, Carl quickly begins beating him as well.
- Strom is a sadistic and unbearably smug Dirty Cop who goes out of his way to be a gigantic dick to everyone.
- His fellow corrupt cop Newton is less of an asshole, but his endless moralizing, smugness, and cruelty makes him just as hateable.
- Duke Metzger, a slimy racist and white supremacist who cant go a sentence without saying something insanely racist.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: In Boys Do Get Bruised, the monster Walter is so afraid of turns out to be a disturbingly real type of monster: Carl, a run-of-the-mill domestic abuser.
- Ignored Epiphany: Crazy K almost comes to an epiphany several times about his crimes and actions, only to then begin justifying it even more.
- It's All About Me: The root of Crazy K's problems he believes that he himself is the only person he needs to take care of, no one else.
- It Makes Sense in Context: Invoked when Mr. Simms opens the second casket. We don't see it at first, but the gangstas are shocked and ask, "What the fuck happened to this nigga?!" Simms tells the story of the little boy who draws voodoo doll pictures and ultimately kills his abusive stepfather Carl by crumbling it up, stepping on it, and burning it. We then see Carl's mangled corpse in the casket.
- Duke Metzger, the slimy, racist politician who is a former KKK member and can't go a sentence without saying something deeply racist and offensive. When he talks about how his ancestor executed all his slaves rather than let them go at the end of the Civil War to Rhodie, he seems legitimately proud of this.
- Strom, who is a smug, sadistic jackass who takes delight in taunting Moorehouse before killing him and gleefully pisses on his grave.
- Carl, the vile, cruel, anger-prone domestic abuser.
- Jive Turkey: Most of the African American characters speak this way in this film, to the point of Chewing the Scenery mixed with Cluster F-Bomb, especially the gangsta characters.
- Karmic Butt-Monkey: Crazy K goes through a lot of suffering, whether it be psychological torture or being shot multiple times.
- Karmic Twist Ending: It comes with a memorable one.
- Large Ham:
Duke Metzger: You will get no reparations from me, you hear me? NO REPARATIONS!
- Clarence Williams III absolutely goes to town as Mr. Simms. Justified by the fact that he's Satan toying with his latest victims.
- Rosalind Cash as Dr. Cushing in "Hardcore Convert" starts out fairly regular but towards the end, especially when she starts experimenting on Crazy K, she starts Chewing the Scenery!
- Duke Metzger also gets in on the hamminess.
- Last Disrespects: When the corrupt cops visit their prior victim's grave, they take the opportunity to piss on the tombstone. The dead man rises from the grave to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge not long after.
- Laughably Evil: Mr. Simms is an eccentric riot, while Duke Metzger is portrayed by his actor this way despite being a Hate Sink Politically Incorrect Villain.
- Louis Cypher: Simms is actually the Devil.
- Marionette Master: The army of undead slave dolls tormenting a white supremacist is controlled by an elderly voodoo priestess whose soul is contained inside an old Civil War painting.
- Never My Fault:
- Crazy K refuses to accept responsibility for his actions, and when confronted by the people he killed, he casts himself as the victim, even when a little girl politely points out she had been killed as collateral damage during one of Crazy K's drive-by shootings.
- Newton, Billy, and Strom seem not to comprehend that Moorehouse going after police corruption, which would endanger their drug dealing, is not the same thing as making life harder for the police. In fact, they try to justify it.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Walter's teacher telling Walter's abusive stepfather about the monster.
- "Not So Different" Remark: Crazy K is shown a montage of pictures showing members of The Klan torturing or killing black men or standing over their corpses and dramatized shots of black gang members killing each other. He's then essentially asked "How are you any better than them?"
- Off with His Head!: Moorehouse tears off Strom's head with his bare hands.
- Oh, Crap!:
Metzger: GODDAMN. (turns around, seeing the army of dolls) God damn.
- The racist Metzger has a nice one when he sees that all the voodoo dolls from the magical painting have gone missing. He then turns around to see hundreds of vengeful puppets staring at him.
- Newton and Strom have one when Moorehouse rises from the grave and kills Billy.
- And of course the three hoodlums at the very end of the movie.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Despite actor Michael Massee and his character Newton Hauser being unambiguously American, in some shots (such as when his character is Suddenly Shouting when scared off by the zombified politician), he slips to a French accent (likely due to not just Massee being of French descent as he was born in Kansas City to French parents, but at the time filming his scenes back-to-back as Free French soldier Frenchie in a television remake of Sahara (1943) where he even stayed in character off camera released around the same year as this film and as a result Massee's Frenchie accent still lingers when playing Newton in this film).
- OOC Is Serious Business: When Crazy K starts refusing redemption, Dr. Cushing, who had previously been cold and mocking towards him, breaks down in tears and begs him to accept redemption.
- Perverse Puppet: The haunted voodoo dolls terrorizing Duke Metzger, which contain the souls of murdered slaves.
- Police Brutality: Billy, Newton, and Strom conspire to murder a black politician who was exposing their drug dealing business. Their victim subsequently rises from the grave to get revenge.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Duke Metzger is a slimy white supremacist politician who moves into the slavery-era mansion that belonged to his grandfather, a slave owner who had all his slaves massacred at the end of the Civil War. The spirits of the slaves, contained in a puppet army, proceed to torment Metzger, who true to form replies with threats peppered with racial epithets.
- Predecessor Villain: Duke Metzger is proudly banking on the legacy of his slave-holding ancestor by taking up residence in his old mansion. While Metzger is more of a simple Jerkass with his racist views, his ancestor brutally murdered every slave he owned because he simply could not stand other people not being his property anymore when the Civil War ended.
- Precision F-Strike: Four words "Welcome to hell, motherfuckersss!"
- Purgatory and Limbo: It's highly implied that Crazy K's "experimental treatment" in prison is actually some form of Purgatory. It would fit with a lot of the symbolism in the segment, including the fact that it occurs after he was shot, the staff of the institution tend to dress in all white, the offer of redemption being accompanied by the need for purification, the state of torment while there, etc.
- Redemption Rejection: Crazy K, rather than admitting to the guilt of his crimes, remained defiant. It ends in his death and damnation.
- Resurrection Revenge: Two stories have these. The first is a slain black politician going after the two racist cops who killed him. The second is more indirect, as it deals with the spirits of slain slaves going after the racist grandson of their slave owner.
- Satan: Mister Simms is revealed to be the Devil himself in the twist ending, and was merely mentally tormenting his new victims before revealing that they've been in Hell all along.
- Scary Black Man: Crazy K with any weapon in his hands. There are also Ball, Stack, Bulldog, the zombified public reformer, the voodoo dolls, and Carl.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Bulldog, on seeing what Mr. Simms really is.
- Shout-Out: In Mr. Simms' final speech, the "terrordome" comment is a reference to a song included on the Public Enemy album Fear of a Black Planet.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Stack's attempt to convince Bulldog that there aren't any zombies at Simms's mortuary by comparing them to refried beans quickly segues into a tangent about how much he hates refried beans.Stack: Man, I never understood that, man. Why the FUCK you gonna refry some beans, man? Why not just fry that shit right the first time, and get out?
- Sins of the Father: Played with. This is part of the reason the dolls go after Metzger, but it mainly seems to be motivated by him being an ungodly racist white supremacist who really deserves some form of comeuppance.
- Sleazy Politician: Duke Metzger is a smarmy racist politician and former KKK member who decided to move into an old plantation house that once belonged to one of his ancestors, a slaveholder who was responsible for massacring all his slaves at the end of the Civil War.
- Smug Snake: Newton, Strom and Duke Metzger.
- Sssssnake Talk: "Welcome to Hell, motherfuckersssss!"
- Spiritual Successor: To Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror, given its premise as a horror anthology where the Framing Device ends with the people listening to the stories learning that they're dead.
- Sympathetic Magic: Walter draws pictures of his enemies and then damages them. The individuals suffer similar damages.
- Taken for Granite: A variation when one of the cops who murdered a black politician is crucified and made part of a piece of graffiti, still screaming in agony.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer reveals quite a few plot points, most noteworthy being the twist ending.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: Crazy K's white supremacist inmate stated that black people like Crazy K will be spared and enjoyed the fact that his victims are African Americans.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Crazy K is a murderous drug dealer, but he's visibly disgusted when a white supremacist compliments him because Crazy K's victims happened to be black.
- Villain Protagonist:
- Clarence Smith and Newton are Dirty Cops who happens to be the leads of "Rogue Cop Revelation".
- Duke Metzger, the central character of "KKK Comeuppance", is a sleazy politician and a white supremacist, so it's a given that he's not a good person.
- Crazy K is a murderous crook and the main character of "Hard-Core Convert".
- The gangstas Ball, Bulldog, and Stack could also qualify if thought as protagonists of the frame story.
- Welcome to Hell: Quite literally, it turns out.
- Wham Line: In a movie full of them, Mr. Simms drops the biggest one of all.Simms: After you killed Crazy K, a few of his boys killed you. I guess you didn't make it.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Clarence, the only non-corrupt cop on the force, was called out by Moorehouse's zombie.Clarence: Are you satisfied now, brother?
Moorehouse: (seizes Clarence by the throat) Where were you when I NEEDED you, "brother"?