Welcome to Part Two of Shocktober - a look into the litanous Leprechaun series. Specifically, as requested, this week's review is a foray into the fifth movie in the Leprechaun franchise: Leprechaun in the Hood.
Interestingly enough, after four previous movies, this one's picked up the label of "comedy" as well as "horror," so let's just see how this freestyle film fares.
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It's the 1970s and the man who will soon be known as "Mack Daddy" O'Nassas (Ice T) strikes it rich when he finds a stash of gold and an ugly statue of a leprechaun. He learns the secret of the two, and uses a magic flute found in the leprechaun's (Warwick Davis) gold to drive himself to fame and fortune.
Flash forward 20 years. The rap trio of Postmaster P. (Anthony Montgomery), Stray Bullet (Rashaan Nall), and Butch (Red Grant), are trying to get on the hip hop scene but just aren't that great. Down on their luck, and looking for some quick promotion to earn money they need to repair their equipment, they turn to rap mogul Mack Daddy.
But Mack Daddy's help will come at a cost: the trio will have to change their entire image! The trio's de facto leader Postmaster P. objects, and they're thrown out. Having no other alternative, the three plan to steal the medallion they saw hanging on a grotesque leprechaun statue in Mack Daddy's office.
Their heist is a success, but when they remove the medallion, the leprechaun comes back to life and begins hunting down everyone the trio's pawned his gold to. On top of that, Mack Daddy starts after them as well to get back the flute that they stole - the very source of his fame and fortune.
Will the trio figure out how to use the flute to cause their own meteoric rise to stardom? Will Mack Daddy catch up with them and bust a cap in each of their asses? Or will the leprechaun succeed in stealing back his gold as he leaves a trail of bodies in his wake?
The only thing that's sure is that nothing can be good when there's a Leprechaun in the Hood!
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First off, because this is a Leprechaun movie, it's an Irish exploitation movie to some degree. Add in the hood, and you get a modern blackspoitation film. Take them both together, and we get a heaping helping of rhyming lines. And any form of entertainment with rhyming couplets is as good as a cellar full of fine wines.
Additionally, we're treated to turns of phrase like this one:
Further, we get to see Ice T show off his acting chops. For example, we see him reacting to his friend's death:
We also see him scrounging around his afro for another weapon:
And, we see him (for much of the movie) acting pretty full of himself:
It's not an Oscar-worthy performance, but it ups the comedy and campiness of the movie. These things are important ingredients for its potency because they really help to carry it along. After all, being the fifth in the series, it can't really be expected to be as terrifying as the last four movies. So, instead it goes for the base comedy so often found in B-movies. As a result, this movie's like a bag of popcorn: you take one handful and then by the time you actually check to see how much is left in the bag, you find it empty.
Beyond the movie's B-qualities, it has some surprisingly dark moments. These are both major plot points, but definitely work well both to bolster the movie's characters and to buttress its comedy and campiness by adding some variety.
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However, it can also be said that the movie's darker moments are there to make up for its lack of a "horror" element in general.
Leprechaun in the Hood follows the formula of a slasher or serial killer movie well enough (one person or entity is out to kill a group of people or an individual), but we're told right off the bat why the leprechaun goes after who he goes after. Because we know that whoever has the leprechaun's gold is going to buy the farm, the movie musters very little tension.
It doesn't help matters that the movie's titular villain isn't very menacing either. He's definitely brutal in the pursuit of those who have his gold, but otherwise he's as comedic a character as Ice T.
The other issue with the movie is that it doesn't really answer many of the questions it raises. Questions like: how did Mack Daddy know enough about the flute to only be interested in it when he first comes across the leprechaun's gold? Why is the flute's power selective in certain scenes? And how does the leprechaun manage to escape and hypnotize someone at the end?
Why all of these things happen is clear (convenience, convenience, and to leave it open for the next one), but the "how" is just as important because without that the movie loses its depth.
Explaining how the leprechaun's magic (and magic in general in the movie work) would add such depth, and help to build more tension as audiences tried to figure out the leprechaun's weak point for themselves based on what we're told. Instead, we're told nothing, and the movie becomes just a bit of light entertainment.
However, the worst part of the film is that the leprechaun isn't even really the main focus - instead, it's "The Hood." Since both things are in the title, both should share the spotlight, but the leprechaun is used as little more than a plot device.
He spouts off some dope rhyming couplets, makes cheerful threats, and then follows through with them. But he's really just the impetus for events, he never really gets into them. For example, the whole conflict between the rap trio and Mack Daddy barely involves him at all - he's just a third party that sometimes interferes with either side's plan.
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Leprechaun in the Hood is an light romp that mixes comedy, camp, and exploitation style film into one entertaining blend. But if you're looking for substance, you've got to go with an earlier Leprechaun movie, or an older horror film. This one's as substantial as blown smoke.
That said though, Leprechaun in the Hood is well-paced, and it does offer some rather surprisng twists near the end.
So, Freya, dust this one off, and lift it up (but be sure to set it along the lower seats of Filmhalla).
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Check back here tomorrow for Annotated Links #21!
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