It's my first Leprechaun film. There are six of them, of which the first two were theatrical and then 3-6 went straight to video. Obviously I started with the fifth in the series, expecting it to be five times as good as the first one, after all that practice!
The premise is that Leprechauns are magical murderers who'll defend their gold to the death, i.e. yours. Supposedly this is a slasher franchise, but the problem is the Leprechaun wouldn't scare a six-year-old. He's no bigger than them, for a start. Personally I thought he was cute. There's no "he's a toy!" dissonance as with Chucky, but instead just a midget in silly make-up. They might as well have tried to build the franchise around golden retriever puppies.
However that said, the Leprechaun has way more personality than most slashers and is even kind of cool in a "begorrah and bejasus" kind of way. He's a perverted little bugger who lusts after human women, thinks drugs are cool when he discovers them here and usually speaks in rhyme. He's chatty. He's surprisingly goal-oriented, at one point trying to recover his gold just by asking nicely and giving me the impression that he'd have gone away peacefully if the man had said yes. Furthermore he has magic powers and can turn people into Zombie Fly Girls, although that's less impressive than it sounds. Overall I became mildly fond of him and I thought Warwick Davis's performance wasn't too bad under the circumstances, although obviously we're talking about a comedy caricature rather than anything you can take seriously for a millisecond.
The accent's a good 70% of that, by the way. It's inconsistent, but it's entertaining.
As for this film series, it's clearly gone through self-parody and now it's doing Airplane! gags. Let me put it this way. The preceding film had been Leprechaun 4: In Space. (Wikipedia thinks today's film belongs between 2 and 3 in the series, by the way.) There comes a point where many horror franchises turn into comedy, but this is the first time I've seen a 1970s blaxploitation dude can pull a baseball bat out of his afro. There's a reference to Tiger Woods. There's a Scooby Doo gag in which our heroes all ask each other if they're okay, only for the last one in line to be the Leprechaun. Still more contrived though is the Young Frankenstein
joke with the blind grandmother trying to feed the Leprechaun, which is as believable as a seven pound note.
What's odd though is that the film isn't a comedy. It's just not taking itself very seriously, which every so often will manifest itself as gags. The story involves three black kids who want to be rappers and go to Las Vegas. However they're not gangster rappers. They don't like anti-social behaviour and they want to send a positive message. Their leader is the principled one and he's played by Anthony Montgomery, the year before he became Ensign Travis Mayweather in Enterprise. I didn't hate these people, but I didn't find them very interesting either. They make an enemy of what must be America's lamest gangster, played by Ice-T, and they seem oblivious to the idea that winning an industry contest in Las Vegas might involve some measure of merit. They find the Leprechaun's hypno-flute and use it to make people like their music, which you'd think would be taken by normal people as a warning sign. The hypno-flute won't work on a CD recording, for instance.
However even that's genius compared to their plan near the end for stealing the flute back from the Leprechaun. They'll make him smoke a joint full of four-leaf clovers (which can be acquired at will in an urban environment), then while he's unconscious... run off with the flute. Will they kill him? Will they do anything at all to stop him hunting them down again? Why, of course not. Do they even remember what's been happening to them so far? You got me there.
One thing I found interesting about this film is how anti-macho it is. It's steeped in the swaggering culture of rap, has celebrity rappers in its cast and is stuffed with rap songs and set pieces. However despite this it's got a hero who looks after his blind grandmother and rejects gangster culture, while its villains are as menacing as Care Bears. Instead of being pimps and criminals, black people in this film are more likely to be churchgoers, or flamboyant cross-dressers in pink hot pants and a blonde wig.
The production's what you'd expect from straight-to-video. The special effects are minimal and the kills are shot in badly judged close-up. I don't even know what some of them died of. Also... NO NUDITY.
Leprechaun in the Hood isn't even pretending to be a good film. Its visuals are unimpressive and its plot is cookie-cutter. Its heroes are stupid even by bad horror movie standards, with only one of the three even convincing me that he deserved to live in the first place. Most people who've seen this film think it's rubbish and I'm not going to say they're wrong. However I found myself being entertained by a frivolous bit of nonsense with a memorable villain (albeit in a silly way). It's taking itself as seriously as it deserves and producing some surprising jokes. I love the rhyming dialogue, which sometimes sneaks out unannounced from the rappers as well as from the Leprechaun. Warwick Davis is having fun, while Montgomery is actually trying to act. Oh, and I liked the "evil wins" ending in which the Leprechaun not only screws the good guys but then has a celebratory scene with dancing Zombie Fly Girls and himself rapping.
Would I recommend it? You must be joking. Will I watch another Leprechaun movie? Well, it was successful enough that the sixth (and final) film in the series was Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. I must admit, I'm tempted by #4. I'm amused when horror franchises lurch into space.