Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/10/2020 (216 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Time flies when you’re not having fun.
Case in point: It was just this time last year when Tales from the Hood 3 shot in Winnipeg.
Films don’t usually have such a quick turnaround from production to release, but that’s in keeping with the fast-and-loose Tales anthology franchise. It began with filmmaker Rusty Cundieff’s original Tales movie, released in 1995. Executive produced by Spike Lee, it combined old-school genre chills with a nifty high-concept idea: exploring "the outer limits of the inner city," all loosely fashioned after the great gothic horror-comic book Tales from the Crypt.
Actor-comedian London Brown is best known for the HBO series Ballers where he plays Reggie, the sketchy financial adviser of a pro football player. In Tales, he plays the like-minded David Burr, a high-flying real estate agent brought low when he schemes to evict a family from an otherwise empty apartment building, with the assistance of a loony arsonist (memorably played by Winnipeg actor Arne MacPherson).
When the plan goes awry, David finds himself haunted by some terrifying burned spectres, including a little boy with a penchant for bouncing a basketball indoors.
Watching the movie, there’s a sense that last year’s devastating mid-October snowstorm might have had an impact on production. Brown, who was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, did not expect the production would so literally live up to the tagline of the original film: "Chill ... or be chilled."
"I’m just not used to working around snow, so that was kind of a big thing," he says on the phone from his home in L.A. "I just couldn’t be warm enough. But no complaints. I’d like to go back and visit there at some point."
The movie is the latest example of Black horror films that hit a peak in 2017 with Jordan Peele’s Get Out, but has been around for decades, going back to 1940 (Son of Ingagi) and including genre favourites such as Blacula, Sugar Hill, and arguably Night of the Living Dead and Candyman (starring Tony Todd, who appears in Tales 3’s creepy wraparound story).
Brown admits he became fond of the genre at an early age.
"I’ve always been into horror films in an interesting way," he says. "I used to like them as a kid… but I didn’t wanna watch them because I was afraid. But I liked them.
As an adult, however, he would call himself a full-fledged fan. "I like a horror film that’s so good, when I leave the movie theatre, I check my backseat," he says.
"I like the angst of it. I like the adrenaline rush. But I stay by myself, and I don’t want to be uncomfortable when I go to sleep. So right after I watch a horror film, I go home and I’ll make sure to watch a comedy. Or I’ll watch a cooking show that’ll help me get back to my regular life. You’ve got a balance it out."
He says his respect for the power of a good horror movie goes back to his childhood, watching films such as Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, usually with one eye closed.
"The scary thing about (Nightmare’s Freddy Krueger) is he appears in your sleep. So after you go watch the movie, it’ll be time for you to go to bed. So you’re telling me you’re gonna leave this fictional idea to possibly appear in my reality in my dreams? Oh no.
"To this day, if my shoe falls too far under the bed and it’s dark, I don’t get up," he says. "I’ll wait till the morning and I’ll use a flashlight. I’m not digging under my bed for a pair of shoes in the middle of the night."
As an adult, Brown has come to appreciate that horror films can deliver an important message amid the chills, including Tales from the Hood, in which every story is a kind of morality tale.
"My character in this is very selfish. He’s trying to get people to move out of his property so that he can make some money and the family he’s trying to get to move, they have a child that’s going through chemotherapy. They’re people in a difficult situation.
"I can always appreciate a good message," he says. "I know the movies are for entertainment but I also sometimes like to walk away with something that I can learn from... even if it’s a horror film.
"It’s telling you: Hey, make sure you look out for others!"
Tales from the Hood 3 will be released on DVD and video-on-demand on Tuesday.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.