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How Tales From the Hood 3, premiering on SYFY, builds on the franchise's Black-focused tales of morality

By Dean-Paul Stephens
Tales from the Hood 3

Halloween is upon us and, across the country, folks are using their free time to watch, read, and listen to their favorite frights new and old. And luckily for fans of the classics, this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET, SYFY is premiering Tales From the Hood 3, the latest installment in the anthology horror franchise.

Like its predecessors, Tales From the Hood 3 tells four spine-tingling stories, each one from the minds of directors Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott. SYFY WIRE sat down with Cundieff ahead of the premiere to talk about the most recent installment and Tales From the Hood’s undeniable cultural impact.

“I would say it’s an anthology of moral tales that place the supernatural as a prescriptive element to the evil that men do,” Cundieff explains.

This, according to Cundieff, is one of the things that sets Tales From the Hood apart from other horror franchises. Today, there are a handful of horror stories in which audiences are made to cheer for the supernatural force, but this was a largely unexplored concept when the original Tales From the Hood premiered in 1995. Tales From the Hood 3 continues this legacy.

“In Tales From the Hood you are, generally, rooting for the bad person to be caught by the supernatural,” Cundieff says. “You are rooting for the monster, the paranormal, or whatever that is to come after the human.”

Perhaps the best example of this comes from the original installment, a story officially called “KKK Comeuppance” but colloquially known as “The Story With the Dolls.” In it, a klansman-turned-politician disturbs the restless spirits of the enslaved by turning a former plantation into his campaign headquarters. After several warnings to leave, the story culminates in a violent confrontation between the politician and a veritable army of possessed dolls. It’s one of the franchise’s most iconic stories and a good example of how these films have never shied away from tackling real-world issues.

“In this film, we have two stories that are directly related to [real-world issues]; one is absolutely related to things that are going on now,” Cundieff teases. “The first episode kind of deals with slumlords and people being pushed out for development ... of neighborhoods. I think that is something people are aware of. It may not be front-page news right now, but it is something that is ongoing.”

Despite the franchise wearing its political heart on its sleeve, Cundieff isn’t quite sure if there is a cultural demand for socially conscious horror. Cundieff explains that when he works on projects with a particular message, it’s not because the genre is popular at the moment, as shown by Lovecraft Country and Get Out, but because it’s something he personally feels is important.

He does admit, however, socially conscious projects don’t always resonate with audiences. Cundieff says he’s no stranger to criticism from individuals who complain about the presence of what they often describe as “social stuff.”

“‘Just scare me, just entertain me, I hate all this social stuff,’” Cundieff explains. “There are those people out there to whom I say, ‘There are 1,000 different movies that have social commentary that will entertain you. Go and watch those.’”

Tales From the Hood 3 premieres on SYFY on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 9 p.m. ET.