The original TALES FROM THE HOOD was released in 1995. I caught it on video and remember being distinctly unimpressed. And that’s about all I remember. So imagine my surprise when twenty-three years later there’s a sequel, TALES FROM THE HOOD 2, and it’s considered kind of a big deal.
TALES FROM THE HOOD 2 reunites the original’s writer/director team of Rusty Cundieff (FEAR OF A BLACK HAT) and Darin Scott (DEEP BLUE SEA 2, DARK HOUSE) with executive producer Spike Lee (DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS, OLDBOY). With the same creative team in place, I had my doubts I’d like it any more than its predecessor but I gave it a shot anyway.
The wrap-around segment for TALES FROM THE HOOD 2 involves Mr. Dumas Beech (Bill Martin Williams) a vile racist, sexist defense industry billionaire. He hires Portifoy Simms (Keith David, YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER, THEY LIVE) somehow not knowing he’s black, to help educate the AI behind his RoboPatriot. The stories he tells it form the film’s segments.
The first involves Audrey (Alexandria DeBerry) and her black friend Zoe (Jasmine Akakpo). They visit the “Museum of Negrosity”, in search of a Golliwog doll like the one Audrey had as a child. When the owner (Lou Beatty Jr. THE ATTICUS INSTITUTE, THE TERROR WITHIN II) refuses to sell it to her they come back with her brother to steal it. This results in a climax that, following films like BLACK DEVIL DOLL or even EVIL BONG 777 isn’t as shocking as the filmmakers think.
The second tale “Medium” involves three thugs beating a now reformed pimp to death while trying to learn where he stashed his money. Money he intended to use to improve the community so others wouldn’t have to turn to crime like he did. Desperate to find the loot they pull a home invasion on a TV psychic (Bryan Batt MAD MEN, ABATTOIR) in order to finish what they started. Needless to say, things go very wrong for them. This has some effectively dark humor in the EC Comics style.
Next up we have two dbags Ty (Alexander Biglane, Erzulie) and Kahad (Greg Tarzan Davis) have a night of Cards Against Humanity and spiked drinks planned. The tables are turned when their intended victims turn out to be quite happy to suck them. But not in the way they wanted. This one is weak and obvious from the start. We’ve all seen/read it a million times.
TALES FROM THE HOOD 2 turns serious for its last segment, “Sacrifice”. Mixing two threads, one involving a young black boy being kidnapped by two white men in the 1950s. And a current-day tale involving politics. Henry (Kendrick Cross) is an aspiring conservative politician. He and his white wife Emily (Jillian Batherson, RE-KILL) are expecting their first child and Henry has landed a position in the campaign of William Cotton (Cotton Yancey, HALLOWED GROUND, BLOOD COUNTRY) an openly racist but popular candidate for governor.
As his wife begins to panic about their baby, Henry begins to see the spirit of the young boy on his lawn. Slowly it sinks in, the boy is Emmet Till (Christopher Paul Horne) And he has a message for Henry. This segment plays out like an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It feels a bit heavy-handed at points but is quite effective.
Then it’s back to Beech Industries for a wrap-up that should be pretty obvious.
While a very mixed bag TALES FROM THE HOOD 2 is better than the original. It makes some solid points about not just bigotry but on blacks holding their own people down. Unfortunately, it has several misfires in the storytelling department that keep it from truly standing out. But it’s certainly worth a watch when Universal Pictures Home Entertainment releases it to video on October 2nd.