I first fell in love with horror when my second-grade teacher stocked her classroom with Goosebumps books. The covers were creepy and bold while being slightly funny and cartoonish. I devoured each book feverishly. I'm pretty sure there were one or two books I never returned because I read them so much they were falling apart.
That's not the real reason I fell in love with horror though. Sure, it introduced me to the multi-layered genre, but it wasn't the moment I fell head-over-heels in love with it. The moment I knew that horror would be the root of my creativity was when I first watched the cult classic horror film Tales From The Hood.
The movie will soon be coming to Blu-ray for the first time, and that announcement bought back a flood of memories of seeing this film when I was 15 years old. I was very mature for my age, so my parents didn't think it was too over-the-top for me to view. They had no idea this film would change my life!
It Gave Me Nightmares And Opened My Eyes
My first viewing of Tales From The Hood left me completely unable to go to sleep that night. One of the vignettes in the movie, titled KKK Comeuppance, features dolls that terrorize and eventually eat a racist ex-KKK member who decides to run for political office. Now, at first, this description might seem a bit silly, but the way the event is depicted is pretty terrifying. These are no ordinary dolls. When they begin to devour the hateful main character, I dare even the most hardcore horror fan not to squirm.
Not being able to sleep that night was both frightening and a little exhilarating.
Tales From The Hood was one of the first ultra-violent movies I'd seen. The brutality is one of the reasons this movie was such a life-changing experience for me, but the savage nature of these scenes had a purpose.
In one scene, a little boy's mother is violently beaten in one of the most shocking depictions of domestic violence on film. This segment was clearly filmed not to entertain, but to bring awareness to just how horrible domestic abuse really is. This gruesome sequence makes it that much more satisfying when you see the abuser get a very just punishment.
Another segment that features an abundance of violence is Hard-Core Convert. It features a gang member named Crazy K going through an "experimental rehabilitation process." He's forced to view a bloody and gory slideshow, mixed with images of KKK victims (graphic imagery of people being burned to death or lynched) and gang violence. Unfortunately, the experiment does not work and Crazy K is killed by rival gang members. The movie hints that the only way to deal with some people is to remove them from society completely.
Horror Can Change The World
Tales From The Hood has several other important social and political storylines that helped broaden my mind at a young age to the problems in the African-American community. The dialogue was riddled with curse words, but after awhile they became less noticeable; what was noticeable, however, was some of the movie's stinging dialogue, such as when a little boy refers to his abusive stepdad as "the monster" and informs his teacher that "he's back," powerful statements about things that go on around us every day. It was such a simple line, but held me in terrified suspense of the fate that awaited this poor little boy.
It was not as if I wasn't aware of the social and political topics mentioned in the film; I just wasn't aware of how serious they truly were. Visual images are a very powerful thing. Is depicting violence always the best way to make a statement about injustices in the world? Maybe not, but it certainly gets people's attention.
Horror has always been an extremely underrated genre that is mostly ignored when it comes to award season, but that does not mean the genre isn't still important. Since seeing this movie, I've always been interested in horror films that use their scares to bring awareness and provoke thinking about important issues. The Bay, The Mist and Psycho are some of my favorite horror films, and it's mostly because they are not in it for meaningless violence and gore (not that there's anything wrong with that sort of thing, but it is nice for content to have meaning).
Tales From Hood, with all of its campy, frightening and violent content, has led me to be the horror queen I am today. I write about the horror world every chance I get through Movie Pilot, I've written and self-published several horror books, I can't wait to see what amazing new content is coming out of the horror world (2017 looks like an amazing year for horror!) and my bookshelf is filled with horror and mystery reads.
rTales From Hood was a real life changer for me. It taught me that the horror genre is just as important and as expressive (if not more so) than any other genre. I learned that even I could express myself through the world of horror. Tales From The Hood can be hard to find for viewing these days, but I think upon its Blu-ray release on April 18, 2017, it might be a life changer for another young and budding horror fan as well.
Are you a fan of Tales From The Hood? Let us know why in the comments below!