My Halloween Horror Marathon will continue from now until Oct. 31…
1995′s Tales From the Hood features our favorite raspy-voiced star, the one and only Clarence Williams III, playing a role not unlike the Crypt Keeper, Rod Serling, or any number of anthology hosts. Williams III is a singularly eerie man, with his voice nicely complemented by his devious stare, which focuses on whomever he’s speaking to just long enough to be profoundly disconcerting.
The movie is – as the title implies – a hood take on the classic Tales From the Crypt / Creepshow / Twilight Zone horror anthology. There’s three tales here, framed by the story of three gang-bangers in a funeral parlor, looking for some drugs. It’s like a feature-length collection of films inspired by the video for Snoop Dogg’s “Murder Was the Case.”
The scenes of racial violence, like the cops beating a “political agitator,” are more brutal and shocking than the usual ghouls and goblins. The special effects are not, however. Tales From the Hood is violent, but lighter on the gore than I prefer. A decapitated cop doesn’t gush a drop of blood, although his partner does a wonderful stop-motion melt: like Raiders of the Lost Ark, full-body style. I have a feeling the producers chose to utilize their SFX budget where it would be most effective.
There’s some terrible looping/dubbed-in dialogue, too. There are entire scenes in the second installment where the original dialogue is nowhere to be heard. It makes Tales start to more closely resemble a Godzilla movie than a Spike Lee joint.
Good soundtrack, too. It’s heavy on the violins, a lot like Beetlejuice. It keeps things edgy, but does tend to lend an unfortunate air of comedy to the film. The tenor ought to be unnerving, rather than the viewer assuming somebody’s gonna crack wise at some point. The killer dolls installment certainly doesn’t benefit, that’s for sure.
Still, it’s a fun movie, and while it’s not breaking any new ground in terms of plot or storytelling, the different perspectives offered up make this a horror flick worth checking out.
Appropriately enough for a gangster horror flick, the version I watched was a bootleg, purchased at a recent horror con in Kansas City as part of a 3-for-$30 deal along with Saturday the 14th and The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The video quality certainly suffered a bit, as it looks like it was a converted .AVI file as opposed to a straight DVD copy. Still watchable, though, considering I’d watched two scratched-up public domain movies before this one. Plus, this is out of print, so any real version’s gonna run you $20, minimum, if not $30-50.