Leprechaun 5:
Leprechaun in the Hood

Lava LampLava Lamp

Our rating: two lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Leprechaun 5
Weaker reviewers than we would
make a "Lucky Charms" joke here.
Way back when we wrote a review of Bride of Chucky, we noted that the Universal horror sequels tended to follow a certain path. Assuming the monster's name was X, you'd have X, Bride (or Return) of X, Son (and/or Daughter) of X, Ghost of X, X Meets the Werewolf, House of X, and finally Abbott and Costello Meet X.

More recent monster franchises have not conformed to this plan, eschewing the tried-and-true Universal pattern for their own, more modern rhythm. As with practically every franchise, the movies have dwindling budgets in each further installment, and the natural results are that the film's producers look for economical ways to give viewers something new. One popular strategy is to set an installment in space, as in Critters 4, Hellraiser: Bloodlines, and Leprechaun 4: In Space. It's even rumored that the tenth Friday the Thirteenth film will have a futuristic setting. In fact, this is actually a cost-cutting measure, because the space setting is usually composed of a couple of spaceship effects shots and lots and lots of economical corridors ( © and TM   Doctor Who, 1964).

Leprechaun 5
"Dude, the Backstreet Boys just
kicked our asses!"
Well, the producers of the Leprechaun movies already tried that trick, with Leprechaun in Space, the fourth movie in the series. Now for the fifth movie, the evil imp (played by Warwick Davis) has been relocated to Compton, California.

In a prologue set in the seventies, Mack Daddy (Ice-T) and a friend discover the hiding place of the evil Irish elf, and unfortunately they steal the magic amulet that keeps him petrified. After his homey dies at the leprechaun's hands, Mack Daddy immediately discovers the usefulness of replacing it. Thus free to partake in the leprechaun's treasure, which includes a gold flute that can hypnotize people, Mack rises to the top of the gangsta heap.

The film cuts to twenty years later, and we are introduced to three hungry young rappers. They are Postmaster P (A. T. Montgomery), Stray Bullet (Rashaan Hall), and Butch (Red Grant). Postmaster P believes that the group can succeed in the rap world with a positive message (hence the "P"), but on the eve of the contest that could be their group's big break, their equipment breaks. Desperate for money, Stray Bullet suggests the group rob Mack Daddy's house, on the grounds that Mack won't report the crime to the police. Postmaster goes along reluctantly, assuaged only because they will be stealing from a bad person. ("We'll be robbin' in the hood.")

Leprechaun 5
This is the process Jennifer Lopez
uses to pick a dress.
Once at Mack's house, Postmaster and company inadvertently release the leprechaun, who has been imprisoned by Mack all this time. They also run into Mack in their haste to escape, though they do get most of the treasure, including the flute.

Even after fencing the loot, the boys are on the run from both Mack and the leprechaun. They try to find sanctuary in such places as a transsexual's house and the local church, along the way discovering the power of the flute.

Meanwhile, the leprechaun discovers the power of marijuana ("A friend with weed is a friend indeed," he quips, speaking in rhyme most of the time), and taking revenge on all those who have his gold. With the help of his Zombie Fly Girls, it looks like no one can stop ol' Leppy from doing as he pleases.

Although we've only seen bits and pieces of the other Leprechaun films, we do get the impression that this particular script and its actors are of a much better breed than the franchise deserves. Expecting a typical Wayans-brothers home-boy parody, we found ourselves occasionally impressed by the performances and story unfolding before us. By Jove, it has a plot! And characters who behave with some small portion of common sense! Hey, someone even included jokes! What goes on here? We especially like the following exchange:

Stray Bullet: "Mack Daddy, he about to go on a killing spree."

Butch: "Yeah, and we're the spree he's trying to kill."

Leprechaun 5
Now he's found his lucky charms!
(Okay, we're weak.)
The most entertaining thread running through it all is the flute; it is the McGuffin that drives the plot forward. Each of the characters has their own reasons for wanting it, but the rappers' reason is foremost: its "good-vibe"-inducing sounds make even their music palatable. This leads to a couple of amusing scenes in which the flute and an impromptu rap get the guys out of a jam. We couldn't help but laugh as they paid for their night's stay in the church with a rap that is guaranteed to offend every Sunday school teacher alive:

Jesus loves me
This I know
If he don't
I'll find a ho.

Heady stuff.

Working against the good stuff are a number of factors. Even as low-budget films go, Leprechaun in the Hood is cheap. There seem to be a minimum of special effects, most of the gore scenes are shot in extreme close-up, and the entire hood is made up of very few exterior shots and lots of interiors that look like redressed sets from earlier in the film.

There is also proof in the film of major editing problems. Chief among these is the appearance of the Leprechaun's rap musical number (yes, you read that right) over the end credits. The number, built around the chorus, "Lep in the hood, come to do no good," explains where the Zombie Fly Girls came from, and obviously fits quite early in the film, right after the Leprechaun takes his first toke of Mary Jane. But someone thought it would be a good idea to move this surreal scene to end, even though it messes with the narrative flow of the movie.

Finally, the Leprechaun just isn't scary, or even that funny. The rhyming thing gets old, if we may be so bold. And he's just a short little ugly guy who bullies other people around with inexplicable powers. If we wanted to see that, we'd watch Different Strokes.

Rent or Buy from Reel.

Review date: 3/17/2000 (Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

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