Leprechaun In the Hood
aka Leprechaun 5: Leprechaun in the Hood
Director: Rob Spera
Starring: Warwick Davis, Ice-T, Anthony Montgomery, Rashaan Nall, Redd Grant
Running Time: 90 minutes
Genre: Horror comedy
Fantastic voyage: Polyester, funk, pimpin’ as a lifestyle, platform shoes and bra-less disco titty freakouts… It’s the ’70s! Mack Daddy O’Nassas (Ice-T) and his lesser befro’d lackey, Slug, (no doubt using a sledgehammer stored in Mack Daddy’s spectacular T.A.R.D.I.S. of ‘fros) are smashing through a cemented-over opening in an old subway tunnel, following rumors of
gold. Breaking through a wall inside they find an ugly little statue with a pot of Lucky Charms gold, a magic flute and a funktastic medallion hanging around its neck. Mack takes the flute and instructs his goon to get the rest. Clearly having not seen Leprechaun 3, Slug takes the medallion from the statue, freeing the Leprechaun from his stony imprisonment, and getting an afro pick to the throat for this misstep. Slug’s death throes tip off Ice-T to the Lep’s menacing advance. He pulls a succession of weapons, mostly from his afro, but is repeatedly disarmed by the midget midas muthafucka’s magic. With seconds to live, Mack hits a valve, blasting the Leprechaun with steam, knocking him back and thanks to a bit o’ luck (o’ the Irish?) the little beast falls on a board that launches the medallion into the air at just the right angle to bring it back down around his neck, sealing him in statue form once again.
Twenty years hence, the worst rap trio imaginable, positivity-affirming Postmaster P, sketchy Stray Bullet and the virginal, scienterifically genius Butch are down some equipment and on the hustle to replace it before a local rap battle. If they win, they could move on to Las Vegas and the big time, but with no money (and no talent) they have no chance. Enter: Big time pimp, criminal don, and record mogul, Mack Daddy O’Nassas!
Mack offers the boyz a shot at fame if they drop their positive message and take on a more gangsta image, but Post’s reluctance pisses him off. He throws them out, rescinding his offer and insulting them and leaving them no choice but to turn criminal to further their career (which is better than playing fake gangsta, apparently.) They come back that night and break into Mack Daddy’s office, expecting him to be out partying all night, and are surprised when he walks in on them mid-burglary. In the confusion, Ice-T gets capped by a startled Postmaster P. The fellas gather up the
Lucky Charms gold, including the flute and the medallion, kept like a trophy on the stone leprechaun in a display case in the office, and flee. They use the Lucky Charms gold to fund their rap aspirations as P learns about the powers of the flute. Unknown to them, they freed the Leprechaun and Mack Daddy O’Nassas isn’t dead and both of them are now after the trio, wanting the magic flute, the only thing that makes their rap palatable and their dreams of livin’ large attainable.
The Lep is the real O.G.: More entertaining than it has any right to be as a straight-to-video blaxploitation offering in the demented Leprechaun franchise, Leprechaun in the Hood features adequate performances and effects, and just the sort of self-aware humor you might expect from its title, as well as the least necessary top-billing cameo of all time.
Just in time for the celebration of all things ersatz-Irish with St Paddy’s Day, here’s Leprechaun in the Hood!
Bill: I love hood flicks. When I was an urban youth in the ’90s, it was practically required of me to watch Colors, Boyz n the Hood, New Jack City, Juice, South Central, Menace II Society, Strapped, Friday… Hell, even Poetic Justice and Jason’s Lyric (or Jason Lyrics as I’ve heard it called quite a few times) were must-watch movies. Naturally, since I was already a horror nut, when they started making horror–themed hood flicks like Tales from the Hood and Def by Temptation, I was a big fan of those, too. It might be mostly be that I love genre mash-ups. Weird Westerns, weird war tales, sci-fi horror and horror comedies are all some of my favorites. It’s also at least partially because they remind me of the Blaxploitation horror movies I would watch when I was little. Films like Scream, Blacula, Scream, Blackenstein and JD’s Revenge would play on the local stations here when I was little. They would never play any other Blaxploitation titles that I can recall, only the horror ones, so I didn’t even realize that they were part of a whole ‘nother subgenre of films. To me, they were just like any other horror film, only with a slightly different flavor, something to make them stand out in my memory. I dug them for being different and hood horror, being the successor to Blaxploitation horror, taps the same vein those memories run through and wind up occupying the same space in my heart.
That being the case, it isn’t surprising that I liked Leprechaun in the Hood. It’s a superbly made, well-acted, and sometimes touching lesson about greed and the desire for fame corrupting even the most noble souls. This lesson resonates even more strongly now, in the age of celeb-reality television than it did when the movie was made ten years ago. It’s also taut and suspenseful and full of twists that you will never see coming. It’s hard to think of anything bad to say about this movie at all.
Fisty: I really do not feel qualified to interrupt Billy’s paean to hood horror, but he says it’s my turn to talk. Uh … my experience growing up was really the converse of Bill’s: I grew up in Hawai’i, where there really are no black people (seriously, some sources say the population is 2.5% and other have it clocking in at barely a half a percent), and had little to no exposure to blaxploitation or urban films. I had no idea they even existed till I picked up a novelization of Shaft at a garage sale when I was in intermediate school (which I lent my elder sister and she subsequently lost, damn her eyes). Now, chanbara and kung fu, that’s a totally different story–but irrelevant today.
Bill: Yes, yes, yes, but what about THIS movie?
Fisty: This movie is a piece of shit, storywise. “Superbly made?” “Taut and suspenseful and full of twists that you will never see coming?” My ass. Screenwriters Doug Hall and Jon Huffman rely heavily on hood stereotypes like the Korean storekeeper, and on the “humorous” situation of non-black folks trying to jive-talk, like the record label rep, and of course that fucking Leprechaun. Also, our protagonists were pretty shittily written,though the actors inhabiting them were good, the characters themselves were pretty uninteresting; what is there really to like about people who suck so bad they have to resort to (stolen) magic to be successful? Or is that some kind of stupid moral? Wait, it can’t be, because the tired “twist” ending was really … well, I won’t ruin it for anyone. But umm, it was crappy.
That being said, I have a really low tolerance for low-budget, straight-to-video movies that suck, and I will admit I fully expected Leprechaun in the Hood to be one and to totally blow chunks, but it surprised me. Anthony Montgomery, Rashaan Nall, and Redd Grant turn in some excellent performances as the truly terrible trio of Postmaster P, Stray Bullet and Butch (wait, did they ever actually say the name of their act? WTF), and all the supporting actors (even Ice-T, who is honestly awful in everything) were damn fine, too, with special mention for Dan Martin as Jackie Dee. Even the humor was actually funny (in context), except when they’d get carried away with urbanizing the Leprechaun (“A friend with weed is a friend indeed?” “You must be trippin’?–fuck you, Leprechaun.)
Really, the production values in general were impressive, comparatively speaking, and I found myself reasonably amused throughout the whole thing–though it would have been better ON WEED–barring the Leprechaun’s rap finale, which was mortifying.
Bill: I was kidding! The movie is terrible! There’s no suspense at all! It’s full of silly plot holes like the Leprechaun summoning his Zombie Fly Girl to free him, when judging by the way he just popped out of his prison, he never actually needed to wait for her. The “urbanization” of the un-hip for laughs, like you said, is lame. It’s a hack bit and wasn’t funny when it was new, and the closing “rap” and the accompanying dance number is cringe-worthy. And why were all the “Fly Girls” white?! There was, like, one black girl! The club scenes showed the budget way more than I’d’ve liked, but lame club scenes are a pet peeve of mine. There is some gore, but it’s mostly unimaginative. Just some squibs mostly, with the exception of a great torso fist fuck and a nice gaping body cavity. It lacks in comparison to some of the other Leprechaun movies (like the pot of
Lucky Charms gold in the stomach from Part 2) and the similar Wishmaster movies. That little guy can do anything, so why limit him to straight-up, conventional physical violence? Though, I dug the hair pick in the throat. I just love the idea of a man being killed with his own afro pick.
I stand by what I said about the plot twists, however. They are unexpected, even if they’re totally ridiculous. I mean, who saw that last reel transvestism coming?! Oh, and HOW DARE YOU say that Ice-T always sucks?! Surviving the Game? Johnny Mnemonic? TANK GIRL?!
Despite the shitty, I really did enjoy LitH. I genuinely liked Post and Butch and even Stray. Butch even more than the others. Poor virgin science dork Butch with his chemicals, flashlight glasses, and Leprechauns for Dummies book. “Not in a dress … Do you think there’s pussy in heaven?” I liked that they were losers that had to use a magic flute to get ahead. If this movie was made now, instead of 10 or 11 years ago, I would absolutely say that the flute was a metaphor for auto-tune or other studio tinkering of vocals. It’s a neat reversal of reality that these losers could win anyone’s approval with a stage performance, but the sound of the flute couldn’t be duplicated with electronic equipment. They were funny, too. I laughed aloud very shrilly at their religious rap and at a few of the silly lines they dropped. I didn’t even mind most of the leprechaun’s blackifacations and got a nice chuckle at his shout out to MLK Jr with “Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last,” upon being released from his stone form.
Fisty: Well, you are a better man than I, brother. Also, technically auto-tune WAS being used a decade ago. Only then it was used to make talentless somebodies listenable, and now it’s an effect, a total gimmick (though yes, it still masks imperfections. Refer to Jay-Z’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” if you please. Which kind of does make this movie a total metaphor for the music industry. Huh.
Speaking of the music industry, I love that Coolio is listed as a “co-star” in LitH, when he appears in it for all of eight seconds. I counted. There is seriously no point to his being there, he doesn’t even speak, just looks confused. I suppose he’s in it just so they can say, “Starring Coolio!” but it’s so silly. Postmaster P even calls it out, saying, “Yo, that’s Coolio!” Why, thank you for noticing, young man. In the movie that is MY life, he was even on screen longer than eight seconds. (We were having late-night happy hour at my favorite dim sum place, Wong’s King when my husband looked at a guy walking past and said, “Yo, that’s Coolio!” I said, “Baby, not every black man with stupid hair is Coolio. Why are you so racist?” But it actually was Coolio, having a post-show dinner in the next room; I won’t bore you with the details. But that interlude was LONGER THAN HIS APPEARANCE IN THIS MOVIE. And since you’re not me, the time it took to read this paragraph was longer, too!)
Bill: Your life is so much more interesting than mine. Though, I do have Claudio Simonetti as a Farmville neighbor. I was never a big Coolio fan anyway. “Gangsta’s Paradise” is such trite shit. Boohoo, a gangsta’s life is so tragic that I have to use simplistic rhymes like see/me to make my cliche point. And that damn Michelle Pfeiffer movie … Blah! It’s piffle, a cushy suburbanite’s idea of ghetto tragedy. LitH isn’t any more authentic. It feels like it was made by white people that like hood movies for white people that like hood movies, like me. Whereas, the old blaxploitation horrors and Def by Temptation (my personal fave hood horror) were actually made to appeal to a black audience. Still, it’s not an un-fun movie. Not as good as any of Snoop’s entries into the subgenre or Def or even Tales from the Hood, but it’s for damn sure way more entertaining than Dangerous Minds.
Fisty: Talk about ersatz!
And look at how we only talked about the hood aspect of Leprechaun in the Hood, while the poor Irish were left out in the cold yet AGAIN. Thank god we have Saint Patrick’s Day to remind us of all the suffering the Irish have undergone since first arriving in this country.