In South Central Los Angeles, a trio gang of drug dealers, Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De'Aundre Bonds) and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe Jr.), arrive at Simms' Funeral Home to purchase some drugs from Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III), the mortuary's eccentric owner. Mr. Simms claims that he found the drugs in an alley and has them safely stored in the mortuary. He asks the dealers to help him get the drugs and, as the four make their way through the building, relates stories about some of his recent "customers". The first casket contains the body of a man named Clarence.
During his first night on the job, young black police officer Clarence Smith (Anthony Griffith) is taken by his new partner, Newton (Michael Massee), to the scene of what initially appears to be a routine traffic stop of a well-dressed black man. When Smith runs the car's license plates, he learns that the man is in fact Martin Moorehouse (Tom Wright), a city councilman and black rights activist who has recently been on a crusade to eliminate police corruption in the city. Smith watches in horror as Newton, along with fellow officers Billy (Duane Whitaker) and Strom (Wings Hauser), brutally beat Moorehouse with their nightsticks and vandalize his car. When Smith insists that Moorehouse should be taken to a hospital, two of the officers appear to agree.
Smith tells Newton that Billy and Strom should be reported for what they did, but Newton tells Smith that officers are not to break "the code". Strom and Billy drive Moorehouse' car to the docks. Strom shoots the battered Moorehouse up with heroin, plants some in his car, then pushes it into the water with Moorehouse still inside. Moorehouse is posthumously and falsely labeled a hypocrite.
One year later, Smith has left the police force and is now a guilt-consumed drunk. On a walk in his neighborhood, he sees a mural of Moorehouse. Smith then has a vision of a crucified Moorehouse haunting him with the words "Bring them to me!" In response, Smith convinces the three police officers involved in the death to meet him at Moorehouse's grave.
Once there, the officers begin to insult Moorehouse, with Strom urinating on Moorehouse's grave and then ordering Billy to do the same thing. As Newton and Strom prepare to kill Smith, a zombie-like Moorehouse bursts from the grave to drag Billy beneath the ground by his genitals. Moorehouse's coffin bursts from the ground, opening to reveal Billy's mutilated corpse with Moorehouse clutching Billy's still-beating heart.
Strom and Newton flee in horror. A lengthy chase ensues, with the two cops fleeing by patrol car. As Newton is driving the vehicle, Moorehouse jumps on top of the vehicle and decapitates Strom. Terrified, Newton exits his vehicle. With Moorehouse still on top of the patrol car and carrying Strom's head, Newton shoots the gas tank, causing the patrol car to explode. Moorehouse then chases Newton into an alley, where he telekinetically throws used hypodermic needles into the cop's body, pinning him to a wall mural. After Newton is killed, his body melts into the mural, becoming a painting of himself crucified.
His vengeance nearly complete, Moorehouse accosts Smith, asking him why he did not help him when he was being beaten. The story ends with Smith in a mental hospital. Two orderlies outside his cell mention that he killed the officers and that he used to be an officer himself. Moorehouse is never mentioned.
Stack, Ball and Bulldog think Mr. Simms is crazy after hearing the story. After they look at the second casket, Mr. Simms tells them about a boy named Walter.
Walter Johnson (Brandon Hammond) is a quiet and sensitive boy who shows up to school one day with bruises around his cheek and eye. Walter's caring teacher, Richard Garvy (Rusty Cundieff), notices the bruises and asks what happened; Walter claims that he was attacked by a monster. A few days later he again shows up with a bruised arm. While the other children play, Walter sits inside and draws a boy named Tyrone, one of the school bullies. Walter crumples the drawing up causing Tyrone to suffer spontaneous injuries.
Later that night Mr. Garvy visits Walter's home and asks Walter's mother, Sissy (Paula Jai Parker), about the monster. Sissy claims that Walter's injuries are the result of his own clumsiness; she then tells Walter not to reveal anything about the monster to anyone else.
As Mr. Garvy is leaving, Sissy's boyfriend, Carl (David Alan Grier) comes home: seen through Walter's imagination, the audience learns that Carl in fact is the “monster”. Thinking that Walter has told his teacher about him and called him a monster (a tattoo of the word "Monster" can be seen on Carl's arm), Carl terrorizes Walter and then whips Sissy with a belt when she intervenes.
Mr. Garvy turns around to check on Walter and sees Carl abusing Walter and Sissy: Mr. Garvy bursts into the house and begins to fight Carl. With Carl's attention elsewhere, Walter grabs a drawing he made of the monster and begins to fold and crumple it. Carl becomes mangled, helpless and unable to accept defeat. Sissy stomps on the wadded-up paper to end the threat. Finally Mr. Garvy gives the paper to Walter, who burns it, completely immolating Carl. Sissy and Walter look on as Carl burns alive and appear to be relieved to be free from his brutal abuse.
Later, Carl's burnt and twisted corpse is in the coffin in Simms' Funeral Home. Mr. Simms shows a doll, instead of a corpse, to Ball, Stack and Bulldog, explaining that it isn't any ordinary doll.
Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen) is an obnoxious and racist Southern senator, and a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. The senator is in his office filming a campaign commercial when he sees protesters outside the office: Jewish and African-American groups have teamed up to protest against Metger for being a racist, a former Klansman, and for setting up his office at an old slave plantation. One individual, Eli (Art Evans), tells the reporter that the plantation is haunted by dolls animated by the souls of previously tortured slaves. He warns everyone that it is not a myth.
Meanwhile, Metger and his African-American "image-maker" assistant Rhodie (Roger Guenveur Smith) notice a large painting of Miss Cobbs, a hoodoo witch, and her dolls. Metger says racial slurs to Rhodie, who attempts to ignore his rantings. Metger also refers to the dolls as "Negro dolls". One of the dolls is seen under the floorboard as Rhodie leaves.
While Metger and Rhodie are working on Metger's media skills, Rhodie falls down the stairs to his death (it is later learned that the doll seen under the floorboard earlier was the cause). At the funeral, Eli warns Metger to leave the house before he ends up like his deceased assistant or worse. In the limo after Rhodie's funeral, Metger notices the doll and orders his African-American driver to pull over so he can throw the doll out the window into the street.
Later, after noticing a blank spot on the painting, Metger comes in contact with the doll he threw out on the street and has a fight with it. When Metger throws a vase at the doll, it disappears and attacks Metger out of nowhere, trying to eat him. Metger is injured, but he manages to stop the doll by beating it with an American Flag. He also damages the painting, which starts to bleed.
Metger takes the doll outside to his porch and ties it to a dart board. He then blasts the doll with his shotgun and goes back inside to rant at the painting. But in the midst of his rant, Metger realizes more doll images in the painting have faded to white. After Metger begins chasing several small footsteps throughout the house, he finds the previously blasted doll in the hallway, reattaching its head. The doll attacks again and chases Metger into his office. Metger manages to lock the doll outside and tries to figure out a way to help himself. He sees that the painting has all the doll images faded to white. Terrified, Metger turns around to see an army of dolls. He covers himself in the American flag as the dolls converge and devour him. Miss Cobbs then disappears from the painting and manifests herself in the room, holding the first doll in her arms. Satisfied, they both smile as they witness the carnage taking place before them.
By now, the dealers are getting impatient and want the drugs they came for, not wanting to listen to any more of Mr. Simms's strange stories. Ball notices a corpse in another room and alerts the others to come and see it. When Simms asks them if they knew the man, Bulldog says it was just someone they had seen around their neighborhood. Mr. Simms explains the final moments of the man known as Crazy K.
Jerome "Crazy K" Johns (Lamont Bentley) is a violent gang member and homicidal psychopath who has killed many people mercilessly. He is driving down the streets of Los Angeles in his Mustang. Coming to a stoplight, he notices the car of an enemy he's been after for a long time and follows him. Crazy K parks in a neighborhood and has a brief argument with the enemy, then shoots him. In retaliation, three other men attack from a house nearby. The men shoot Crazy K, and just as they are about to kill him, the police arrive at the scene. Due to one of the shooters firing at the police officers, all three gunmen are shot and killed by the officers. Crazy K is badly injured but survives, only to get arrested and sent to prison.
As described by a prison guard Crazy K has received a life sentence for suspicion of murder three times along with other charges. Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash in her final film role before her death) arrives at the prison and transfers Crazy K to another facility. Crazy K meets an inmate (Rick Dean) who is a homicidal white supremacist and raves about killing black people and the end of days for blacks. This angers Crazy K and causes him to punch him in the face. The man then asks Crazy K the race of the victims he killed, silencing Crazy K because all of his victims were black. The man grows fond of Crazy K and he tells him that there will be a few black people who will be spared as long as they think like him. After speaking to the man, Crazy K is told by Dr. Cushing that she purposely put him there to meet someone who is just like him. She then tells him that she has been hired by the government to administer a rehabilitation process on Crazy K in hopes that he will change his ways.
Crazy K is put through a process of torture to make him learn the consequences of his actions. His hair (with K cut into the front) is shaved off he is put through a slideshow of images involving black KKK members and victims of lynching along with gory footage of gang violence along with a montage showing all those he has killed. Dr. Cushing goes into the fact that Crazy K killed many innocent African Americans without remorse or second thought.
Crazy K is put through the next stage, in which he is put in a sensory deprivation chamber. He is confronted by all the souls of his victims, one of whom is an innocent little girl who was killed when a bullet from Crazy K's gun came through her wall and hit her in the chest. Crazy K doesn't accept any responsibility. Dr. Cushing warns him that he won't get another chance for forgiveness. The souls haunt him more and more, but he grows increasingly uncaring of his actions. Having refused a chance for redemption for his sins, he is transported back to the moment when he was shot. Crazy K is brutally shot dead by the three gunmen, and the story ends with his corpse lying abandoned on the street.
When the last story ends, the three drug dealers are revealed to be Crazy K's killers. They become angry and demand to know how Simms knows of their murder as they threaten to kill him and demand their drugs. Simms leads them deep into the funeral home and tells them their "reward" is in three closed caskets. The dealers open them and each coffin has their corpses inside. The dealers are terrified to learn that they are dead; at the whim of Simms their guns burn red hot, forcing the dealers to drop them.
Simms explains that after they killed Crazy K, some of Crazy K's "boys" killed them in retaliation. Bulldog asks Simms why they are still alive if they are dead. Simms, growing more eccentric by the second, tells them that they are not in a funeral home but in Hell and transforms into Satan. The drug dealers scream in horror at Simms's transformation into the Devil. The walls of the funeral home shatter, revealing the fiery reality of where they had been all along. Their fate is to burn in eternal damnation along with others, as Satan laughs.
The movie was released theatrically on May 24, 1995. Later that year, the movie was released on VHS and Laserdisc by HBO. In 1998, HBO Home Video released the movie on DVD, which has since gone out of print. According to Cundieff, Universal Pictures currently holds the rights to the film, but there were no prints available to reissue the film on the Blu-ray format in 2015. In 2016, a remastered version of the film was released to Amazon.com, iTunes and Crackle. In November 2016, it was announced that the film was to be made available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, which was released on April 18, 2017
Critical reception for Tales from the Hood has been mixed. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 44%, based on 18 reviews, with a rating average of 4.6/10.