The director of most of Chappelle’s Show brings us five tales of terror.
Three drug dealers, Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De’Aundre Bonds), and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe, Jr.), arrive at a funeral home run by Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III) to purchase some drugs. As they head to where he stores the drugs, Mr. Simms relays four stories to them.
“Rogue Cop Revelation” concerns a young black police officer named Clarence (Anthony Griffith) whose partner Newton (Michael Massee) pulls over a city councilman (Tom Wright) who has been trying to eliminate police corruption. Smith watches as Newton is joined by two other officers (Duane Whitaker and Wings Hauser) mercilessly beat the man up, then murder him after framing him for drug addiction. However, it turns out that the blue line is no match for the revenge of the dead.
“Boys Do Get Bruised” is the tale of Walter Johnson (Brandon Hammond), a young boy who shows up to school with a black eye. His teacher, Mr. Garvy (Director Rusty Cundieff), asks about it and Walter says he was attacked by a monster. Later that night, Mr. Garvy visit’s Walter’s home, where his mother, Sissy (Paula Jai Parker), says that Walter is just clumsy. However, it soon becomes apparent that there is a monster living there when Sissy’s boyfriend Carl (David Alan Grier) shows up, but Walter finds out he has the power to deal with it.
“KKK Comeuppance” features Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen), a former Klansman who is now a senator in the South. Rhodie (Roger Guenveur Smith), Metger’s image consultant, agrees to film a campaign commercial at Metger’s office, which is a former plantation. They find a mural of a former voodoo witch who supposedly put the souls of tortured and murdered slaves in her dolls. Slowly, Metger starts to realize that the dolls are hunting him.
“Hard-Core Convert” features Lamont Bentley as Jerome “Crazy K” Johns, a murderous psychopath. He murders a rival gang leader, whose associates show up to enact revenge. While Crazy K survives the killing, he is put in an experimental rehabilitation treatment under Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash), which might be worse than death.
This movie is one of the best examples of a horror anthology out there. I would put it in the same class of films as Creepshow, V/H/S, and Trick ‘r Treat, all of which combine great stylistic filming with creative horror stories. This movie was mostly the product of Rusty Cundieff, one of the few directors of Chappelle’s Show. The same kind of deep character-driven comedy that populated that show permeates this film, but it’s combined with some solid horror tropes and, most importantly, some strong social commentary. Unsurprisingly for a Spike Lee production, this film focuses largely on themes that affect African-Americans. I wish I could say the themes are no longer relevant, but, honestly, if you made this movie in 2020, the only thing that would shock everyone is the lack of cell phones.
While the stories are each very concise and powerful, the wrap-around segment contains an absolutely unforgettable performance by Clarence Williams III. If you’re older, you probably remember him as “Linc” from The Mod Squad or as Philby in the Mystery Woman series, and if you’re my age you probably remember him from Half Baked as drug kingpin Samson Simpson, but I will always remember him for his performance in this film as Mr. Simms. Sadly, he declined to reprise the role in either of the sequels (although he was replaced by the amazing Keith David and Tony Todd), but few people will ever forget his absolutely wild delivery, particularly of him riffing about “the shit” that the three dealers keep asking for.
I originally picked this film because it was supposed to be on Hulu, but unfortunately it’s not, unless you have Starz. I will say, it’s worth the rental on Amazon, particularly if you’re looking for a fun movie that still celebrates the Halloween season.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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