For most of us adult horror aficionados, our passion for the genre was forged in that all-important, youth-defining ritual: the sleepover. And for me and my friends, horror anthology classic Tales From the Hood was the ultimate slumber party move, usually at my request. At the time, I just knew I liked it. Looking back, Rusty Cundieff's use of social issues like police brutality, racism, and domestic violence, often culminating in a deeply cathartic and fitting end for the film's human monsters, it was the first horror movie I'd seen that showed me what the genre was capable of—that scary with a message was possible (and not just the message of "have sex, get slashed"). Also, there're dolls that eat Corbin Bernsen to death and made me scared of those Lil Penny Hardaway commercials for a long time. This movie has everything.
But it wouldn't be the delight that it is without Clarence Williams III's Mr. Simms.
The film's stories are threaded together by Simms as he tours a trio of drug dealers through his funeral home, offering up stories of people who pay dearly for their crimes—like racist cops, a former KKK member, and David Alan Grier as an abusive husband. In the role, Williams is delightfully campy. And then the ending comes and he explodes into giant camp fireworks and glitter cannons of camp glory.
In all the lessons the movie taught me at a young age, the biggest might have been that Satan's kind of awesome.