Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 5 Horror “Hood" Movies.

The term “hood” can typically be associated with late 80’s and early 90’s Westcoast gangsta rap. I mean Eazy-E, Tupac, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg (pretty much the entire NWA) was pretty much the pinnacle of this:

This is hood…

In terms of film however, I think John Singleton with movies like Boyz N the Hood and Spike Lee are pretty much the pinnacle of representing what the “hood” is, at least from my white, middle-class, suburban lifestyle has led me to believe.

The ideal of a “hood” to me has always been one of oppression, poverty and struggle. And while mediums like music and movies have turned the term “hood” more into a pop culture phenomenon, I still think that the violence that is led from these unfortunate situations of those raised in the “hood” can make good subjects for horror movies. Some better than others of course, but let’s get on with the list.

5. Leprechaun 5 – Leprechaun in The Hood (2000)
irector: Rob Spera; Starring: Warwick Davis (Leprechaun), Ice-T (Mack Daddy)

Okay, so let’s get this out of the way; as far as “monster/creature” movies go, the first Leprechaun movie (1993), was pretty stupid to begin with. It was mostly know for taking the concept of the nice, lovable Lucky Charms leprechaun and making an evil, sadistic and twisted bastard leprechaun who would kill and mutilate anyone for greed (in this case his missing pot-of-gold). Also, one of the first movie roles for Jennifer Aniston. The story is absurdly stupid, even by horror-movie standards. Also Warwick Davis, the lovable actor in Willow, must have needed money for this awful role because it certainly seems demeaning.

Examples of the greed killing featured in the first movie include: Leprechaun 1 kills.

Anyway, in establishing that the Leprechaun series is already pretty ridiculous, it should be no testament to how goofy things can go when they decide to take this series to the “hood”.

"A friend with weed, is a good friend indeed" - Leprechaun.

Leprechaun 5 is by far more comedy than horror. And this will be very apparent when I explain to you the synopsis.

Rapper Mack Daddy (Ice-T) releases Leprechaun but, Mack Daddy manages to put a gold necklace on Leprechaun, thus turning him into stone. Mack Daddy has stolen a “magical flute” from Leprechaun that gives him the ability to become a mega rap star.

A new an upcoming trio of rappers joins up with Mack Daddy to try to make their breakthrough. While in his studio, they manage to steal the gold necklace off the petrified Leprechaun and the magical flute. Leprechaun finds out who stole his flute and begins his hunt.

Beginning his rapper hunt.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the film, but if this plot hasn’t already piqued your interest, then I’m not sure you should be reading the rest of this, because it only gets sillier. But, I don’t feel I’m doing the movie quite the justice it deserves, so just take a look at the brilliance that is Leprechaun in the Hood below. Also, it gave us the rhyme "Lep in the hood, you're up to no good," which is sheer awesomeness.

Leprechaun in the Hood: Rapping harder than Ice-T.

And this:

Lep in da hood.

Easily a good group/crowd watching movie to make fun of and have a good laugh at, and that by its own merits makes it on the list. Oh, and they also made a sequel: Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood.

4. Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Director: Wes Craven; Starring: Eddie Murphy (Maximillian), Angela Bassett (Dr. Rita Veder), Allen Payne (Detective Justice), Kardeem Hardison (Julius Jones)

Taking “hood” to the east coast, is this overlooked Wes Craven gem. Craven—one of the grandfather’s of horror—he has done some great work and some utter, utter shit. Vampire in Brooklyn probably falls somewhere in the middle, and is thus somewhat forgettable in Craven’s lineage, but I implore you as a “hood” movie, they don’t get much more gangsta than this; seriously it has the Italian mob in it.

This movie is also sadly where the Eddie Murphy career nosedive probably begins, as well. However, we have a lot of Murphy staples in this movie such as: him dressing up in costumes and playing different roles, bad Caribbean accent, terrible jokes, bad acting, vulgar language, and a terrible romance story where he gets the girl.

In the following scene, yes that is Eddie Murphy going crazy in the restaurant with the gun:

VIB, giving us the term “guido” far before Jersey Shore.

The story of VIB starts with Maximillian (Murphy) arriving in New York in a coffin via ship. Maximillian is the only survivor from a race of vampires on a Caribbean Island that had all been killed. As the last survivor of his race, Max must find a mate to keep the line from ending.

He knows that a child had been born to a woman who had a vampire father, and he searches for her in Brooklyn. Rita (Bassett) is that woman. She has nightmares that she does not understand. Not knowing that she is part vampire, Max tries to woo her and attempts to bring her to her blood sucking destiny.

But her police partner, Justice has feelings for her and does not want her involved with this stranger Max. Throughout the movie, Max has difficulties trying to get close to Rita and thus a reason for Eddie Murphy to get into different costumes and characters is utilized (just like has to do in almost every movie for some reason…) for him to try to get to know her. One such character is the “guido” (the video above) and another is this beautiful scene where Max becomes Preacher Pauly. Keep in mind, Vampires don’t like crosses:

This is an attempt for love, by the way…

Again, this movie is more comedy than horror. It even has a bumbling sidekick character for Murphy to play off of in the character Julius (Kardeem Hardison) as his goofy ghoul buddy. But perhaps the best part of the movie comes from the great one-liners Murphy gets to say, here are some:
  • Maximillian: [Julius is afraid that Maximillian wants to feed on him. Max pulls a bit of Tony the gangster out of his teeth] "I just had Italian."

  • Maximillian: [after being shot] Interesting. I've been stabbed, and I've been hanged, and I've been burned. Even broken on the rack once, but I've never been shot before. Kind of itches a little!

  • Policeman with dog: You people ought to stay back! Killer here loves to bite!
    Maximillian: So do I!

  • Julius Jones: Hey, man, my pops always said the quickest way to a woman's heart - the church.
    Maximillian: It's actually through the ribcage, but that's a bit messy.
You owe it to yourself to watch this movie. Or be hypnotized by Murphy to watch it!

At least you guys like me in Shrek, right?

3. Bones (2001) Director: Ernest R. Dickerson, Starring: Snoop Dogg, Pam Grier and Michael T. Weiss and Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror (2006) Director: Stacy Title, Starring: Snoop Dogg, Danny Trejo, Aries Spears, Billy Dee Williams

I know I’m kind of cheating by using two movies to represent the third spot, but I really feel you can’t watch one without the other. Also, I was doing a little foreshadowing by adding Snoop Dogg as my “hood” reference, well that’s because I think he is the person that has attributed most to “hood” horror films by creating two that solely focus on that subject.

First, let’s start with Bones. A tribute to blaxploitation films of the 1970’s, Bones is cooler than ice cream when it comes to lingo and dialogue.

The movie starts in 1979, where Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg) is respected and loved as the neighborhood protector. He is betrayed and brutally murdered by a corrupt cop and some “businessmen” that want to start selling drugs in Jimmy’s neighborhood. When he tells them no, things go down.

When “bidness” goes bad.

Twenty-two years pass, the neighborhood has become a ghetto, and four teenagers have renovated Jimmy’s home into a nightclub. This somehow releases Jimmy’s spirit into a black wolf/dog that starts killing them in the club. This particular scene has one of the best quotes of the movie and has pretty good gross out scenes with maggots.

"The gangsta of love don’t eat no fried chicken!"

So after the ghost-dog-spirit of Bones’s kills a few people, his body gets resurrected in full with pimping coat and a crimson tie. He goes about seeking revenge on those that killed him and those that didn’t stand up with him during his death. And believe it or not, Snoop is actually a pretty good actor.

Pimp'n and kill'n bitches as a ghost, ain't easy.

My most egregious problem with the movie is actually the color of blood and effects used in the movie. It’s low budget, so I’m not expecting greatness, but the blood color is bright red almost pink as opposed to a dark red that kind of takes away from the movie, that is for the most part, stupidly enjoyable. Also noteworthy, Pam Grier is in the movie. Apparently she and Snoop have quite a history as she has done music videos with him, though this is her first movie with him in it.

Now on to Hood of Horror. Told as an anthology of three short stories Tales of the Crypt style, takes place of course, in the the hood. The movie is a mix of live action and animation blended together which gives a little throwback to its comic book origins.

Snoop plays a character named Devon who becomes a “Hound of Hell”, by selling his soul to a demon named Liore. He does this to try to bring his dead sister back to life. Liore grants his wish and also makes Devon have the power to decide who goes to heaven or hell based on the lives they have lived.

The first story entitled “Cross-Out” is pretty awesome. In it a female tagger (graffiti artist if you will) named Posie, is given the power of death by the mysterious Derelict (Danny Trejo) who is another Hound of Hell. With this power, she is able to "cross out" other tag artist and cause a gruesome demise to the original tagger. This power is given to her to clean up the neighborhood and take out gang members terrorizing the city. In one particular scene, she crosses-out a name, the victim then trips and impales through his head a 40oz. Yes, this is awesome.

This would hurt… a lot.

A static shot of said “40oz” death through the head.

However, Posie starts abusing her power. The Derelict takes the power away and sends the recently deceased gang members on her. Returning from the grave, they lodge a spray-paint can in her head and spray the wall with her blood.

The second tale is entitled “The Scumlord” which is about a very white racist and trashy couple, Tex Woods Jr. and Tiffany. They are given the chance at inheritance after Tex Sr.’s death. In order for them to receive the inheritance, they have to live with some black Vietnam vets that served under Tex Sr. for a year.

As you can imagine, Tex and Tiffany don’t get along with the veterans, and harass them and force the veterans to work so much that one of the veterans dies. The veterans decide to take matters into their own hands. Forcing Tex to watch, they force-feed Tiffany caviar, a point of irony made to their new found wealth. They feed her so much it causes her stomach to explode.

Mmmm good.

I won’t reveal what happens to Tex Jr., but it’s not good things.

The final story is titled “Rapsody Askew”(for the rapping element). And is probably the weakest of the stories and doesn’t really have any particular good kills or scenes in it. It’s about SOD, a new rapper who starts to gain recognition and fame (sounds like the story to Leprechaun, no?) Anyway to sum it up, SOD is blamed for killing a friend fellow rapper, named Quon, who was competing to take away SOD’s fame. A mysterious woman appears, brings Quon back to life and hilarity and killing ensues.

Overall, I think both of these movies are really good representations of “hood” horror and both are attributed to the inclusion of Snoop Dogg. I guess he has something of a horror ‘bone’ in his body for this stuff! Get it?! Okay moving on…

2. Tales from the Hood (1995)
Director: Rusty Cundieff, Starring: Clarence Williams III, David Alan Grier, De’aundre Bonds, Lamont Bentley, Samuel Monroe Jr., Joe Torry , and many more.

In all honesty, I don’t think any “hood” horror film would exist without this one, especially Snoop’s Hood of Horror. This is the pinnacle of interracial problems of the hood meeting the supernatural. The biggest difference with this movie compared to the others, is although some of it is actually a bit goofy, this is a genuine horror movie with the intent to scare as well as show the horrors and deserved punishments of "hood" life.

Another anthology of tales, the film takes place in South Central L.A. when three gang members show up to Simm’s Funeral Home to purchase drugs from Mr. Simms himself (Clarence William III who has always given me the creeps in every role he plays).

He does a good crazy-face.

Mr. Simm’s claims he found the drugs in an alley and refers to them as “the shit” repeatedly throughout the movie. As he goes to procure the drugs from the back of the building, along the way Mr. Simms stops to tell the three gang members the tales of how his recent “customers” have arrived at the funeral home.

The Shit.

The first story is entitled “Rogue Cop Revelation” and is obviously inspired by the “Rodney King” beatings with a mix of zombie-revenge. Clarence Smith is a rookie cop on his first night on patrol with his partner, Newton. They arrive on the scene with two other officers who have pulled of a well-dressed black man.

That man turns out to be Martin Moorhouse, a city councilman and black rights activist who has been taking down crooked cops that have been selling drugs for profit. Well the cops don’t take too kindly to this and start brutally beating Martin. Clarence obviously outraged, tries to help but the other officers pull-rank on him and Newton forces him back to his patrol car.

The other two cops, choose to dispose of Martin after the beating by drugging him up to the point of incoherence, putting a lot of drugs in the back seat of his truck to frame his good name, and making Martin’s car drive off a dock into the sea with Martin in it, leaving him to drown.

A year passes by and Clarence has quit the force, but he begins seeing visions of Martin due to his regret of not helping or doing anything. Martin tells Clarence to, “bring them to me”. Somehow convincing the three officers to go to Martin’s grave, they give Clarence a lot of grief over it and begin to desecrate Martin’s further by pissing on his grave. Then, this happens:

Don't pee on graves, people.

That's some really good gore, head decapitation, and heroin crucifixion/turned into art painting there. It’s all a little ridiculous, but still pretty horrific at the same time.

The second tale “Boys Do Get Bruised” is a tale about Walter and is a metaphor to child abuse and domestic violence. Walter is a timid boy who shows up to school with bruises on his face and gets picked on at school by bullies. His teachers obviously think it’s a parent hitting him, but Walter says it’s “the monster” at his home that arrived after his dad died is beating him.

Walter begins drawing the “monster” in class at school and refuses to go to recess. His teacher wants to visit his home to talk with his mother about the “monster”. As the teacher walks away, Walter’s picture falls to the ground and as Walter picks it up and crumples it. One of the bullies that picked on Walter suffers “spontaneous” injuries falling down the stairs and breaking both of his arms and legs.

Walter’s teacher later that night visits the home only to find out that the “monster” is actually Walter’s mother’s new boyfriend (played by David Allen Grier in a non comedic role.) You soon find out that through Walter’s eyes, he sees the new boyfriend as a monster.

Why so serious, David?

After the visit from the teacher, the boyfriend dismisses the teacher and begins to attack Walter, his mother and the teacher (who tries to come back in to save them). After a relentless assault, Walter takes a picture of the monster and begins to start folding it, and in turn it starts torturing and bending the boyfriend like a contortionist.

This particular one deals with a very serious subject matter and really only has a few goofy scenes in it, mainly just how Grier delivers his lines and his death.

The third tale is titled “KKK Comeuppance” and this is perhaps the silliest tale but the most fun of the movie. The story focuses on Duke Metger, a racist Southern senator who was also a KKK member. While trying to film a political campaign commercial, he sees Jewish and African-American protest groups outside his house. Metger’s home is also a previous slave plantation.

When a news reporter is asking questions about the protest, a deranged older protester comes and interrupts claiming that the souls of previous slaves of the house inherit the house and will exact revenge. Rumor has it a voodoo woman bought the house prior to Metger and took the souls of the dead slaves and put them within dolls and a mural that is in the house.
Honestly, these are kind of creepy.

Soon the dolls start coming to life. While Metger films one of his friends giving a political statement for some kind of documentary, his friend falls down the stairs in a freak accident and dies. Unmoved by the death of his campaign friend, Metger refuses to move out of the home despite protesters saying the house is exacting its revenge. When re-watching the tape, Metger realizes that a doll was on the floor, and well... then this starts happening:

Best scene in the movie by far.

This tale is bigoted and silly, horrific fun; that’s the best way to describe this story. The sound the dolls make always gets me as well; it’s really unnerving. It also has some of the best lines that I won’t repeat here and one of the best death scenes. Just watch it.

The final tale is “Hard-Core Convert” and it’s about the effects of gang violence. By this point in the movie, the drug dealers get impatient with Mr. Simms and no longer want to hear anymore of his stories. Upon walking to the final point where Mr. Simms is about to give them the drugs, the gang dealers recognize a body in one of the coffins. It's “Crazy K” a gang member they knew,
who killed tons of people and with no mercy.

One night while driving Crazy K spots a rival gang member that he has been trying to kill for a long time and follows him. When the rival stops at a house, Crazy K gets out and shoots him. He then hears a door open and runs off, three gang members come out of the house and begin firing back at Crazy K.

The only thing crazy about him is that shirt he’s wearing, amirite!?

They manage to shoot him but not kill him. Police show up on the scene and the gang members fire at the cops while running away, and manage to kill a cop. Crazy K however, gets saved by the police and gets a deal made while in jail to get let out early if he participates in behavior modification study.

As it turns out, the behavior modification isn’t what it seem to be and turns into a very Jacob’s Ladder and A Clockwork Orange tale, and a bit of an epiphany moment for Crazy K:

A good Jacob's Ladder-like moment.

As the rehabilitation goes on, it turns out that Crazy K is lying on the ground where he was shot and the behavior modification was actually his last chance at redemption/dream. When he says he doesn’t “give a fuck” about the people he killed, he loses that chance for redemption and goes back to the moment with the three gang members standing over him. Instead of the cops showing up to save him, the gang members shoot him to death and leave him to die in the street.

Finally after these last few stories, the three gang members at Mr. Simms turn out to be Crazy K’s killers. The gang members become angered at Mr. Simms when they realize he knows they are the murders and demand their drugs. Finally, Mr. Simms leads them to three caskets and tells them their “reward” lies within the coffins. As the gang members open the coffin, they find a neat surprise in there:

This ain’t no funeral home, welcome to Hell, mother fuckers!”

Honestly, I love this movie and think it holds up quite well today. Especially as this movie is more horror than comedy (unlike the other movies in this series). It’s a great horror movie and the “hood” actually adds to the movie with serious subject matter instead of detracting.

1. Candyman (1992)
Director: Bernard Rose, Starring: Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Vanessa A. Williams

This movie is probably the most legitimate horror movie on the list. Not only is it a Clive Barker joint, stars Tony Todd who also is in the Final Destination movies and has a "Bloody Mary" theme to it, but by all accounts this movie is actually terrifying.

Candyman is based on the short story "The Forbidden" by Clive Barker, though the film's scenario is switched from England to Chicago.

I classify this as “hood” for two reasons: 1 ) the nature of other “hood” movies bring up bigotry and slavery exacting towards revenge as subjects and 2) the movie takes place in Cabrini-Green Chicago area, known for gang violence, neglected slums and turned into the projects.

The legend of the Candyman.

The story starts out with Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) studying on urban legends. While interviewing freshmen about some, she hears of a local legend about the Candyman. The legend states that the Candyman was once a slave and also an artist. He falls in love with a white woman who becomes pregnant with his child.

When plantation owners found out, they cut off his drawing hand and replace it with a hook. He is then smeared with honey, as locals look on during this they begin chanting “Candyman” five times towards him. Bees then sting him to death and then burned his body and scattered his ashes.


When a murder committed in the Cabrini-Green area is rumored to be done by the Candyman, Helen goes to investigate. During her investigation she is attacked by a gang member in the area who has a hook on his hand that has taken up the “Candyman” moniker as his own. Police capture the suspect and ask her to identify the attacker.

Was it him?

Soon thereafter, Helen begins to hear voices of a man stating he is the Candyman and following her in a parking garage. She doesn’t believe him and ask him to prove it.

That should prove it.

She blacks out, appears in a woman’s apartment, covered in blood and the lady’s who’s apartment she is in has had her Rottweiler decapitated and her baby missing. The scene does lead to a pretty hot bra scene though. The lady of the apparent furiously attacks Helen as she wakes with a meat clever, but police are able to enter the apartment and arrest Helen.

Don’t worry, the dog’s head is fake.

Ladies, don't talk to strange guys with hooks on their hands
in parking garages, please.

After Helen’s husband bails her out of jail, she is left home alone in her apartment as her husband goes to run an errand. Candyman appears in her apartment and cuts her neck. A friend comes over for a visit during the ordeal and enters the apartment. As Helen is too weak from the blood loss of her neck injury, the Candyman manages to murder her friend in front of Helen’s eyes. When Helen’s husband returns, he sees the friend’s dead body. After the ordeal with the dog, missing baby and now the dead friend, Helen is placed in a psychiatric hospital and is pending on trial.

She tries to convince everyone that the Candyman does exist, and tries to summon Candyman with the psychiatrist in the room. He appears and kills the psychiatrist giving Helen a chance to escape. She returns home to find her husband with another woman, and flees to Cabrini-Green.

He’s going to have back problems.

Soon she confronts the Candyman and finds out that he wants her to help carry on his tradition of inciting fear and revenge on the community, and will release the stolen baby only if she sacrifices herself. But, he tricks her and takes both the baby and Helen and plans to burn them both on a bonfire to increase his legend.

That sneaky bastard.

Soon residents learn that the Candyman is real, and manage to burn him in the fire as well, the baby manages to survive, but Helen does not.

During her funeral, the residents of Cabrini-Green pay respect to Helen for helping stop the Candyman. Meanwhile, her husband, in grief, goes back to their old apartment and call her name five times in the mirror. She returns with Candyman’s hook, kills her husband leaving the body to be discovered by his new girlfriend.

It’s truly a “hood” movie and perhaps by far the best and scariest on this list. Now, I implore you; get to watching this top five. You'll thank me later.