Saturday, July 23, 2011
Tales from the Hood
Netflix has Tales from the Hood, and I vaguely remember this film from when I was, oh, maybe nine years old, so we're gonna tackle that tonight! I remember it as being an alright film, albeit one loaded with some really unfortunate stereotypes, but that it at least had some pretty awesome effects. Let's see how much I agree with nine year old me!
After an opening credit scene involving a skeleton with a black banana and a handgun, our film starts off with three young stoners coming to a mortuary run by Don King's creepy long lost brother. Turns out Crypt Don King has led them here with the promise of drugs, and with how fucking creepy he acts I don't get how they keep calm over it. I fuckin' love the mortician already, he kinda reminds me of the crypt keeper in the original Tales from the Crypt film, that movie with Peter Cushing in it.
Well, it's storytime! Crypt Don King begins telling us the story of Clarence, which causes us to cut to the story within a story. God I do love anthology horror. This story starts 0ff with some crooked white cops beating a black guy because he busted one of them for selling drugs in his neighborhood. They ram his head through the glass, beat him in the face with a club, etc. all while the only black cop is busy running his license plate. Even though the guy's bleeding profusely, and he caught the cops trying to kill him, he ends up trusting the white cops to take him to the hospital. Not surprisingly, they kill him and plant drugs on and in him... and drive him into the water. ...why. That seems like a fucking retarded way to kill someone.
Time passes and Clarence, the black cop, is no longer a cop. He's drunk and at a graveyard where he's called the three white cops to a meeting. He leads them to the grave of the guy they killed, and they follow because they secretly plan on killing him anyway. One of them decides to piss on the guy's grave, then forces his friend to do the same. Just then, the guy's corpse grabs him by the dick and pulls him into the grave, killing him and causing the remaining two cops to open fire on the tombstone. Because y'know, the tombstone did it.
The remaining two racist cops speed off in the cop car, the zombie attempting to hold onto the car. They seriously suck at driving and end up stuck, which gives the zombie a chance to rip off the roof of the car, pull up the cop that first beat him, and then tear his head clean off. The last cop, the one that wasn't actually present for the killing, goes a bit crazy, tries to shoot the zombie, but only makes his car explode. Fuckin' Pintos. He fights the zombie a bit, revealing that for some reason the zombie's heart has been replaced by some gooey green thing that reminds me of Creepy Crawlers commercials. Zombie uses his telekinesis to crucify the cop with needles, and this... melts him into a painting of him in the cross. Anyway, even the black cop gets in trouble, as he's made insane, left responsible for the murders, and thrown into a looney bin.
Well that was a nice story! Only apparently story time isn't over, because just as soon as we cut back to Crypt Don King, he wants to tell us the story of a boy named Walter, so we cut to Walter's story. He's the new kid in school, and for no reason at all this leads to him getting his ass beat. What is it with kids in movies being so damn sadistic? I grew up in the south, and was pretty openly a bunch of things people around me disliked, and even I never faced the kind of shit I see in movies. Anyway, his teacher notices a bruise that wasn't caused by the fight, and thinks something suspicious is going on. Walter blames "the monster" that showed up after his dad died. Of course we get a few shots of this, his bedroom door being opened by some unseen monster that can only speak in stock monster noises, but it's kinda obvious to anyone that this is a big child abuse story.
Anyway it turns out the kid is secretly the son of the chick from Cellar Dweller. He draws one of the bullies that's been picking on him, crumbles up the drawing, and this breaks the bully's arms and legs. ...this seems kinda evil. I mean sure this kid gets abused by his stepfather or whatever, but he just fucking broke the arms and legs of another kid. I mean, I'd cheer if he just beat the bully bloody but... you just fucking broke someone's arms and legs. That's some intense shit right there. His teacher comes over to ask about the monster and the bruisings when the woman's lover comes home... played by David Alan Grier. Sure Chocolate News was so offensive it made Carlos Mencia blush, but I just can't see David Alan Grier as a violent abusive asshole.
The teacher starts to leave, giving David Alan Grier an opportunity to beat his kid, and then start whipping the kid's mom with his belt so loudly the teacher can hear it from his car. The teacher tries to stop him, but fails miserably. Thankfully the kid still has one of his drawings of the monster, and he starts crumbling and folding it until David Alan Grien is just a somehow still sentient puddle that can still talk, until someone steps on the paper. This could have been a pretty good dramatic story, but this shit just got silly. So, they burn his corpse, and we cut back to the funeral home where we see his deformed, charred skeleton in a coffin.
The wraparound story in this really gets no time at all. Crypt Don King closes the guy's coffin, causing a creepy doll of a slave to drop out, and this brings him into another story. It opens up with some racist white politician guy's add detailing how quotas, reparations, affirmative action, etc. are racist. He spews out some racist shit, and we find out that there's a huge protest outside, partly because the bigot's decided to make base in a former plantation. We hear a legend (and see a creepy mural depicting it) of how some old black woman transferred the souls of slaves into dolls (he calls them "nigger dolls" just in case you didn't know he was racist yet), he spews out some more racist crap towards his assistant/PR guy. I feel a bit awkward pointing it out but, well... so far the white cast in this film is made up of 3 racist murderous crooked cops, and one super racist southern politician with KKK ties.
He bounces some ideas off his assistant on how to play off questions about his KKK history, when suddenly the assistant falls down the stairs and hits his head on the floor, causing an entire jar of red jelly to burst from his head. We find out via the politicians camera footage that his assistant tripped on one of the dolls, and oh my god this is a knockoff of that one awesome Twilight Zone episode isn't it? Or was that Outer Limits... either way, yay. Killer dolls! He gets attacked by one, loses it, so he starts beating the mural of the old lady with an American flag, causing it to bleed. The doll attacks him again... I've gotta ask. Why is it in all films with tiny killers, they always hold the tiny killer... and somehow the tiny killer still gets close? Like it's forcing their hands closer to their face somehow. That's never made sense to me. I see it all the time in Puppet Master and shit.
The politician goes on another tourettes-ish racist tirade including the term "Nigletts", which is a new one to me, tries to outrun the tiny black doll that's been chasing after him. The CG on the doll isn't... that bad, but it's very conspicuous. Anyway he checks out the mural and finds that all of the dolls are now missing from it, because now they're all in the real world. He turns around and all of the dolls are staring at him. He decides that the best thing to do is cuddle up with the American flag. Surprisingly this doesn't help him, and the dolls tackle and eat him alive while the old black woman, now also not in the painting, watches. This cuts us back to the mortuary, where the three druggies from the beginning are getting tired of the random stories. They just want their drugs.
The next corpse, whose story we get to hear, turns out to be someone the three guys know. We cut to a gang member driving around when he recognizes someone speeding by, follows them to their home, and then guns them down. As he turns to get back in his car, three people wearing the same clothes as the three druggies that are totally not obviously the same druggies shoot him repeatedly before magic cops show up and kill them as well, all to ominous latin chanting. I mean magic cops because seven cop cars are suddenly parked there, without making a noise, lights going off, cops in position... and nobody noticed this. Even the fucking Imperial Guards of the Elder Scrolls games aren't that fucking magic.
The gang member gets carted off to some hellish prison where he's put next to some racist Charles Manson like guy... played by the fucking comic relief guy from Carnosaur 2 and Carnosaur 3. I'm not making this shut up. That irritating comic relief guy that died in the last two Carnosaur films is some neo-nazi guy who goes on a racist tirade towards the gang member, shows off his racist tattoos, and tries to recruit him to fight against fellow blacks. I had to pause the film and look it up on imdb to verify, but yeah, it's that guy. I can't stop laughing.
We cut to the next scene where they're hooking the gang member up to some weird shit that reminds me of what they hooked Bane up to in Batman and Robin. It reminds me of that a lot, only for some reason he's clad in only a very thin speedo that leaves nothing to the imagination. For any female or gay readers out there tired of references to fanservice for straight males and lesbians, well, there you go, there's some fanservice for you, if you can get past the Batman and Robin flashbacks. I guess if you were to freezeframe it, or you could just chill out and forget that film was ever made. ...the ice age! Anyway it turns out to be kinda like Clockwork Orange. They play some rap music, show him photos and video footage of black people dying while making his chair spin like he's in astronaut training.
Apparently he's not cut out to be an astronaut either, as next they tie him up to a wooden chair, still in his briefs (how does pantslessness help?), and put him in a dark room as part of a sensory deprivation therapy thing. I hate to tell you this movie, but that's not how sensory deprivation works. That's just being in a dark room. Maybe I could loan you my copy of Altered States sometime? Anyway he sees visions of all the people he's killed, including a little girl who was killed by a stray bullet in her own home. He responds to this negatively, starts shouting that he doesn't give a fuck, and then it cuts back to... oh, it was all a dying dream. He's still laying on the pavement, and he gets shot to death by the three guys that totally aren't the druggies in the wraparound story.
We cut back to the three druggies in the wraparound story who are angry at the mortician because he knows they're the ones that killed that guy. What a twist! He leads them to the basement where, in another twist, we see that he has their corpses in the coffins. Apparently the cops didn't kill them, but some of the opposing gang members hunted them down and killed them afterward. Crypt Don King then turns into Satan, and reveals that they are in fact in Hell, with some really hilarious awful CG juxtaposed with some pretty decent makeup work on Satan.
Altogether, this isn't a bad movie. It's pretty fun, and I'd recommend giving it a try, especially if you enjoyed either of Snoop Dog's horror films (which I personally did.) Just... don't expect to take it that seriously. There's a lot of special effects failures, the writing's mediocre, and it's pretty racist and hamfisted. Still, not that bad a movie, and I fucking loved the mortician.