Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tales From The Hood (1995): Blu-Ray Review

One of the most conspicuous examples in the Black horror film canon comes in the form of a Tales From The Crypt remix for the 1990's Black community concerns, sensibilities, and aesthetics. From the bounty of, yet at times monolithic "urban drama" features akin to Boyz n the Hood (1991), Juice (1992), Menace II Society (1993), and Fresh (1994) emerged the first breakthrough of the sub-genre hyphenating its efforts with horror in the form of 1995's Tales From The Hood. The anthology has four different, morality-based stories in its arsenal about police brutality, domestic abuse, Southern sites of horrible violence inflicted on enslaved African people, and additionally, gang violence.

I first watched Tales From The Hood in 1996 on VHS with my mom at 13, finally realizing why she slept with a towel around her neck for a month after seeing Blacula back in 1972. When the reality of the characters on screen is a representative correlation of, in a sense, people who look like you or you may even know, the fear conjured in a horror film can sometimes become that much more real. That's just a proposal to why I wasn't all that keen on the sun going down the night after that first viewing.

As an amateur preservationist, I feared for a long time that this film wouldn't get a wide, collector's release. If you were lucky, you bought it on DVD on Amazon before it became seemingly out of stock indefinitely, had a VHS copy from yesteryear, dubbed a VHS copy off of cable, or was lucky enough to find it in a display bin at a horror convention, possibly a thrift store. Many works by Black people can easily fall through the cracks, be forgotten, or even suppressed. Fortunately, I've seen enough of us really rally around what Tales From The Hood has done for horror (albeit from what seems to be an exclusively Black male perspective which is the most blatant critique of the film that I have) and how we discuss the genre as a thoughtful approach in understanding the real world around us.

Scream Factory now has a Blu-ray disc with some great original cover art, poster (if you pre-ordered), and bonus features I'll go into detail a bit below.

Welcome To Hell: The Making Of TALES FROM THE HOOD

The documentary discusses in succinct detail the origin of the film's concept, each of the four segments: origin stories, vision, and the process of the visual effects. Welcome To Hell does offer new, behind the scenes information that was fun to learn. Everyone involved really hammered home the point that Tales From The Hood operates at the intersection of social commentary and horror. Actors and crew talk fondly about the experience as well as the reception from audiences even to this day. Runtime: 56 minutes

Vintage Featurette

This nostalgic treasure chest is appropriately narrated by Clarence Williams III (Mr. Simms) and is another overview of the feature with blurbs from Executive Producer Spike Lee and star David Allen Grier.

Audio Commentary With Director/Writer Rusty Cundieff

Cundieff balances out Welcome To Hell with many more tidbits into how the film was made which was really cool to listen to. If you're really interested in learning what made Tales From The Hood tick, this is a feature worth the price.

Also included:
Original Theatrical Trailer
Original TV Spots
Still Gallery

Darin Scott - Writer/Producer
Rusty Cundieff - Director/Writer

The Tales From The Hood: Collector's Edition is available today!

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