I might be wrong here but I don’t think we’ve done an anthology before. But even as I type that sentence, I doubt myself. Perhaps my definitely more with it Blog partner can cast light on that? If I am right, then this is the first and it’s surprising. There are some corkers in the horror genre and I’m rather partial to them.
This week was a bit of a palava actually. Jill chose a cult title that I couldn’t find to stream in the UK but did find for a bargain on a real life DVD, so I ordered it. Then it wasn’t delivered in time so she had to choose again. That too was unavailable to me, however the sequel was there for the taking and that’s the tale of how we ended up with this little number. I’m not mad at it, though it’s not exactly what you’d call a refined piece. The first story is so horrific I nearly had to tap out there and then, but I’m glad (?) I prevailed.
Tales from the Hood 2 (2018)
Horror is back in the hood! Mr. Simms’s haunting stories will make you laugh…while you scream.
TW: Attempted sexual assault, sexual harassment, racist language, racist imagery, miscarriage, bigoted white men
I’m going to start with the first story and then come back to the beginning and end – but the gist of the intro is this:
In a near but unspecified point in the future, Trump-esque Dumass Beach (Bill Martin Williams) is a prison operator in the process of constructing an army of AI “Robo Patriots”. Their deal is that they can learn from secondhand stories how to pick out criminals just by looking at them, thus being the perfect law enforcement officers. Beach hires storyteller Mr. Simms (David) to fill the Robo Patriots’ heads with said stories, suggesting he start with “Black Lives Matter” as the theme.
Which leads us neatly into our four stories.
While on a road trip, two friends – white girl Audrey (Alexandria DeBerry) and her Black bestie, Zoe (Jasmine Akakpo) – stumble across the Museum of Negrosity at a roadside. Audrey is keen to stop, while Zoe needs a little convincing but once in, the pair have a good old laugh at the racist propaganda set out before them. Museum owner Floyd (Lou Beatty Jr.) is unimpressed by their conviction that racism is a thing of the past – they’re friendship proves it, right? – but he’s even less chill when Audrey tries to persuade him to sell her a display golliwog called “Golly Gee”, claiming that he reminds her of her first lover (who incidentally is Zoe’s brother).
Floyd lectures Audrey on the history of the golliwog, and tells of all the pain and anguish attached to such an item. Audrey is determined to have Gee for her collection though, a collection started long ago by her own grandmother, so when night falls the girls return with Audrey’s brother Philip in tow to steal the doll. Well, this is a horror anthology, so the plan is guaranteed to go array – and it does so in the most insane way.
What transpires is completely ridiculous and sort of brilliant, the perfect example of being careful what you wish for. There’s a lot here being said about the fetishisation of black people, um, including the troubling scene in which Philip, who’s also Zoe’s boyfriend, pretends to tie her to a real life whipping post that came from a slave ship. A SLAVE SHIP.
But, TBH this is the least of our worries as we reach the climax of story number one – it’s Something Else™ and I’m not going to tell you what it is. You wouldn’t believe me anyway.
Gangsters Brian, Booze and the brilliantly named Gore are torturing a former pimp in order to get hold of the five million dollars he’s just come into possession of. Unfortunately, the victim – Cliff Bettis (Creighton Thomas) – isn’t about to give up the cash, which he has bookmarked for a foundation to get kids off the street. When he proves a little too gobby for his own good, one of the robbers accidentally kills him before he can give up the goods.
Faced with the dilemma of not having a scooby where the cash is, one of the gang has the brainwave of calling on fake TV psychic John Lloyd (Bryan Batt) to contact Cliff from the grave. Which they plan to make him do by threatening his girlfriend Sandra’s (Sandra Gutierrez) life. When they turn up at Lloyd’s home, he agrees to a seance in exchange for his life. Well, fake or no, the seance is rather successful when Cliff rocks up to wreak bloody revenge – and once there, there’s a certain reluctance to turn his back on his new rich, white man’s body, even if it lacks in certain areas.
Date rape is the order of this tale and I hate it. Professional douche-bags Ty (Alexander Biglane) and Kahad (Greg Tarzan Davis) like to pretend to be big men in order to get hot but dumb young women (according to them) in the sack. On this night they’re enjoying the company of Carmen (Alexandria Ponce) and Liz (Cat Limket), who are minding their own business when their drinks are spiked and they pass out.
It would seem these bastards have form and enjoy filming themselves having relations with unconscious women – and these girls are the perfect victims. Aren’t they?
Black councilman Henry Bradley (Kendrick Cross) is expecting a child with his white wife Emily (Jillian Batherson). The pair have suffered the loss of a baby the year before so both parents are anxious. Emily, however, is having reoccurring dreams that Emmett Till keeps telling her that they don’t deserve the baby, and she fears he’s going to take it away. As with any good horror yarn, the husband doesn’t believe his hysterical wife and she’s more or less made to go to bed and be quiet.
He’s also trying to get his shit together in the form of a glittering political career but when his mother comes to visit, she tells him the campaign trail is the least of his worries. Does he listen, tho? Mum is also très critical of her son’s support for Republican candidate William Cotton (Cotton Yancey) – yes really – who according to her, has been targeting specific locations in Black areas to prevent Black people from voting. Surely not?
As Emily loses more and more of her shit, and starts conversing with a ghost in the garden, Henry sticks his head deeper up Cotton’s arse (in the name of advancing his career). Even when Cotton jokes at a fundraiser that in the past, Henry would have been serving them all. Hellbent on bringing Mississippi back to its core values – it all sounds way too familiar for comfort, doesn’t it?
Eventually Emily manages to convince Henry to have a word with the ghost – and he winds up learning a very heavy-handed but important lesson because the ghost is – you guessed it, Emmett Till (Christopher Paul Horne). Will Emmett convince Henry to wake the fuck up to his own bullshit before it’s too late? Maybe.
Maybe he will.
Robo Hell of course introduces this whole schtick and then neatly ties it up with a bow by having Robo Patriot launch publicly. But is he able to pick out the biggest crook of them all? With the help of Daddy Simm’s stories, you bet your bottom dollar he is.
Look. This isn’t The Personal History of David Copperfield, which I also watched today and am deeply in love with. This is D-Movie shite and it’s not THAT bad for what it is. Sure, it’s crude AF and the effects are shaky at best but it does raise some interesting points.
If we’re really looking at it for these points alone, I would say the first crazy story is my favourite though it approaches it’s core themes with the subtlety of… a giant evil gollywog out for revenge.
It loses steam in the middle – and although the gals in Date Night do get ultimate vengeance – that story falls flat for me. The Sacrifice is supposed to be the headline act but it’s so ham-fisted and OTT, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. Which doesn’t sit comfortably with me given Emmett Till’s story, which deserves to be taken seriously. Narrative-wise this is probably the strongest story but it doesn’t quite get there.
All in all we’re looking at a pretty messy collection. I’m not sure it matters that we haven’t seen Tales from the Hood (1995) though I am quite interested in visiting it at some point. I gather Mr. Simms is a recurring character.
“Now that was some shit!” ~ Mr. Simms