I’m bad with dates, so I am always surprised to find out that this underrated movie’s anniversary has snuck up on me again. Tales From The Hood was released on May 24, 1995. Because few POC, let alone Black, reviewers are paid for their work, the movie was panned by those who can’t get past their biases. It now holds a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is due to slow growth as more of us cut out the middlemen, and create our own avenues to get our voices heard. While a super white landscape of critics shat on this movie, we’ve seen other anthologies attempt to emulate this one (only with fewer Black people) succeeding.
Tales From The Hood is as relevant today as when it came out in 1995. Most of the arguments I roll my eyes at on Twitter could easily be traced back to some of the points this movie makes. We also still have these same systemic issues causing harm to our communities. Writer and director Rusty Cundieff took actual anxieties and made it into one of the most blatantly underrated movies of my lifetime. This should’ve been a jumping-off point for new ways to effectively tackle race in horror. Instead, I’m sitting here salty because things seem to be moving rapidly backward. Most genre efforts dealing with race seem to cater to white audiences. White audiences who pushback when POCs are upset about being used as props for these kinds of shenanigans.
We lost so many cast members that deserved so many flowers for this film. I worry that Clarence Williams III, Rosalind Cash, Ricky Harris, and Lamont Bentley never knew how many of us were changed because of this movie. They never knew how many kids in my generation saw people who looked like us and didn’t know it at the time, but had a seed planted somewhere in our brain that we might belong in this world. After all, how can we ever be heard over people with privilege and huge platforms?
I digress, most of us saw this movie when we were way too young. However, it resonated with us because it saw us. It saw some of our communities. It had a conversation with us instead of catering to the demographic that only celebrates racial trauma porn in the genre. This movie was a unicorn at the time it came out. I wish I could say we get a plethora of movies like this every year now, but we don’t. The playing field is still uneven. When a Black artist does get to make the movie they want, it’s labeled woke, and the conversation devolves. Unless, of course, it’s made for the white gaze. Then it’s considered art, and…