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Tales From The Hood – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

The 1990s found me knee deep in anything I could consumer horror-wise, no matter what depths the first half of the decade would bring. Though, both with the theater and the rental store, I’m pretty sure I never sat down to watch Tales From The Hood. Maybe I did, but I figured I’d remember it. The film probably came across as too silly for me at the time and I wasn’t really into comedy-horror (I wanted my stuff serious and scary) or moreso wasn’t on the wavelength of it back then. Like what happens so many times, the folks at Scream Factory help to rectify past missed opportunities and give the films the best possible chance to win me over with their Collector’s Edition series of films.  Tales From The Hood is entering that fold when they bring it out on April 18th. I’m looking forward to digging into this one as I feel there’s a good chance I’ll have a fondness for the movie that probably would not have been there when it was new and I was in my teens.

Film 

Ball and Bulldog arrive at a local funeral parlor to retrieve a lost drug stash held by the mortician Mr. Simms. But Mr. Simms has plans for the boys. He leads them on a tour of his establishment, introducing them to his corpses. Even the dead have tales to tell and Mr. Simms is willing to tell them all. And you better listen – because when you’re in the ‘hood, even everyday life can lead to extraordinary terror.

Tales From The Hood is one of the few (Maybe only) theatrically released horror anthologies of the 90s. Taking an urban spin on things in the wake of movies like Boyz In The Hood, Above the Rim and more, the film didn’t really set the box office on fire but really sticks out in horror history as something unique that really there still isn’t anything like it around.  To top things off, the film managed to land acclaimed director Spike Lee to slap his name on it as an executive producer.

Rusty Cundieff’s film hits both horror and social issues right in the jugular with each and every tale in the film. What’s crazy is that it balances it perfectly and never feels heavy handed. The sad thing about it, is that Tales From The Hood ages well as the issues it is tackling and spotlighting are still present in today’s society. Right from the start it focuses on corrupt police which maybe feels even more uncomfortable now than it did when it was mainly hitting on Rodney King-esque issues. The film also hits on racist politicians and gang violence with things that feel like they could have been written today.

One aspect I really loved about the film is that each of the stories in the anthology not only feel different from one another, they feel like wholly original from any anthology that had come before, even feeling fresh in the face of a film coming in the wake of Tales From The Crypt. In this film alone you get police horror, zombie horror, monster/step-parent horror, doll horror and dream-phantom horror. Put together with some really good and effect gore effects, you wind up with a really competent piece.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who passed or didn’t check out Tales From The Hood back in 1995 at the theater or on home video. But now is a really good time to go back and see it with this release. There is some effective horror and strangely/sadly issues it brings to the table that give the film a relevant feel today in 2017. No, its not perfect, its some lost masterpiece, its a solid horror film and really one of the better anthology movies.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Tales From The Hood debuts on Blu-ray with relatively strong, yet with something that feels very true what it may have looked like in its theatrical appearance. The image is bold in its full looking appearance, being sharp enough and carrying plenty of details. No, its not this revelatory wowing image, but for a movie like Tales From The Hood, it looks really good and I’m sure is way better than any look its ever had before on home video.

Depth:  Depth is solid as characters and backgrounds feel good separation and distance looks decent.  Character movements are natural and cinematic with no real blur or jitter going on in any sequences.

Black Levels:  Blacks come through really deep and rich. Impressively, hair manages to keep lots of detail without losing any. It also avoids having heavy grain in really dark sequences in the film or on dark objects. No crushing witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction:  Colors come through pretty strong. Reds, of course with blood and all that are a stand out. But some more colors like greens and purples look really nice.  All the while it holds a natural, rustic look in places with its browns, tans and grays very well.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and contain a look staying consistent throughout the entire film. Wrinkles, stubble, scuffs, body damage, dried blood and sweat all come through impressively through close ups and medium angled shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA, Alternate 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  The stereo track is a really full and impacting track that has a real good sense of looseness and balance on the vocals, score and sound effects. Dynamic range really impresses and there is a good layering and depth in regard to effects and environmental presentations through the front channels.  The music really provides a commanding boom to the mix as well. Overall its a loud and involving track that shouldn’t make you miss the fact that its not 5.1.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals come very crisp and clear. The clarity is really terrific and there is a good boom in bass-heavy voices.

Extras 

Tales From The Hood – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director/Writer Rusty Cundieff

Welcome to Hell: The Making of Tales from the Hood (HD, 56:13) – Features interviews with director/writer Rusty Cundieff, producer/writer Darin Scott, actors Corbin Bernsen Wings Hauser and Anthony Griffith, special effects supervisor Kenneth Hall, doll effects supervisors Charles Chiodo and Edward Chiodo.  Cundieff and Scott go through their conception of the film (Cundieff worked on From a Whisper To a Scream back in the day). They then go through each individual story and give a look back at it and bring in the relevant players to give their angle. Everyone is really positive on the project and its a good, full-feeling look at the film, the issues it covers and the writing/filming of the movie.

Vintage Featurette (SD, 6:04) – Mr. Simms narrates a little studio “Making of” that feels promotional from when the film was released with interviews from cast, crew and Spike Lee mixed with footage and behind the scenes and on set video.

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:41) 

TV Spots (SD, 3:26) – In multiple languages no less.

Photo Gallery (HD, 9:46)

Summary 

Tales From The Hood is both a film with goofy thrills and some real good moments of horror.  Sadly, it also contains topical issues that still hold a piece of relevance to this day. This Blu-ray has it looking very and nice and sounding really lovely.  The documentary sells this release alone, but it contains a nice commentary track to go along with it as well.  Its a little light on the bonus features for the Collector’s Edition, but truly what is there is more than enough to satisfy (Don’t discount the photo gallery either, it has some interesting stuff).  Definitely if you’re a fan or collector this is a bit of horror history to own.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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