Written by: : Doug Hall, John Huffman, Alan Reynolds, Rob Spera, and William Wells
Directed by: Rob Spera
Starring: Warwick Davis, Ice-T, and Anthony Montgomery
Reviewed by: Brett G.
“I'll take it from you, homie, you'll see, cause you know the Leprechaun is the real O.G.”
Space would prove not to be the final frontier for one of horror’s most diminutive figures; indeed, Warrick Davis’s Leprechaun managed to return for an unfathomable fifth entry in the series back in 2000. After conquering the far reaches of the universe, there was apparently only one logical place to go: the hood. I suppose the Leprechaun was in desperate need of some street cred after having starred in some fairly dismal films in his day. Would this jaunt to urban life prove to be its weight in gold?
From the funk-tinged soundtrack and superfly fashion, I can safely assume our film opens in the 70s; here, two thugs break into an abandoned building in search of riches. They stumble upon a bizarre shrine that houses some loot; among the items are a flute and a necklace that’s hanging around a leprechaun statue. After stealing the latter item, the duo unleashes our title character; one survives, one doesn’t. The more fortunate of the two (Ice T) manages to turn the Leprechaun back into stone and escape with the flute. Twenty years later, he’s known as Mac Daddy O’Nassass, a famous music producer who charmed his way with the flute, which is magical. When a group of friends with rap ambitions get desperate for cash, they rob O’Nassiss of his flute, but they also release the Leprechaun from his stone prison again.
I actually saw Leprechaun: In the Hood over ten years ago when it debuted on VHS (!). For better or worse (I’m gonna go with “better”), not much stuck with me over the past decade. In fact, only one image was indelible: in the film’s opener, Ice-T not only sports a huge afro, but he also manages to stuff a miniature baseball bat in there, which he unsheathes to use on the Leprechaun. Back in 2000, that was probably the moment that made me assume I was in for quite a trip; ten years later, I knew better, but it was still hard not to chuckle at it. Having also seen some blaxploitation films in the decade since, I was also more attune to this element of this sequence. I can’t help but wonder how much more entertaining this film could have been had it remained in the 70s and embraced the blaxploitation angle--could you imagine Dolemite vs. Leprechaun? I can, and it sounds fantastic.
But alas, the majority of our film takes place during “present day,” and it’s a pretty dull affair compared to that opening sequence that was full of malt liquor and death via afro-pick. Our trio of main characters manage to be about as likeable as they can be, I suppose, but they aren’t very interesting. Nor do they do anything particularly interesting; much of the film plays out as a comedy that sees our three heroes bumbling into humorous situations that lead to a few chuckles and not much more. An admitted highlight is a church scene that features quite a unique rendition of “Jesus Loves Me,” where their alternate lyrics assure us that “his disciples was some bad mofos,” much to the chagrin of the congregation.
As such, this movie plays out to be every bit as silly its title suggests; per usual, the Leprechaun himself is played for laughs, and in this case, the obvious culture clash lends itself to humor. A lot of it misfires, but the sight of Warwick Davis toking up and ordering around scantily-clad zombie fly girls is sort of a sight to behold. If anything, Davis still seems happy to be there, as he infuses the Leprechaun with the appropriate wry wit and humor. He even gets a rap number himself where he warns us that “no one is safe from a Lep in the hood.”; this comes after a climax that features cross-dressing and magical 4 leaf clover weed (not featured: a lick of sense). He doesn’t always play around, however, as he does manage to dispatch a few victims in gruesome fashion, and the effects are as slimy and visceral as his rhyming one-liners are corny.
I don’t know if any of this comes as a surprise; after all, what standards can you really have for a series such as this one? As ridiculous as it is, this fifth entry is probably among the best it has to offer. Not surprisingly, it’s only seen one standalone release on DVD; it came way back in 2000, and the non-anamorphic transfer and 2.0 stereo soundtrack look and sound every bit of their age, meaning they’re serviceable at best. Humorously, this “letterbox” transfer and the soundtrack are listed as special features on the back of the DVD, along with interactive menus, scene access, and subtitles. Luckily, this lackluster disc was repackaged in a couple of sets along with the other films in the series, so you can get it as part of a bargain that won’t fetch too much of your coin. Getting the film this way will also let you in on another absurdity: as if one trip wasn’t enough, Leprechaun went Back 2 Tha Hood in 2003. Yep. Rent it!
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