Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Leprechaun: Leprechaun in the Hood
*
VHS
Directed by
Rob Spera
R
91 mins

Oh, Trimark. Trimark, you win.

You win the Video Store Guy's Super Official Grand Bull Moose Award in the category "Best Flogging of a Dead Horse."

So what we have here is the story of our old Leprechaun, played as always by Warwick Davis. Astute viewers will already pretty much know the plot, as this is the fourth in the series. But this time, more specifically, a couple of very seventies street hoods find the leprechaun's gold in an underground cavern, and don't last long, until a feat of happenstance steps in to alter things.

Fast forward about twenty years, where another handful of "positive rappers," three hacks from Compton so powerfully untalented that Snoop Dogg wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire, as they get turned away by a major record producer, the surviving hood from the seventies.

The secret to the record producing hood's success, as it turns out, is a small flute that was part of the leprechaun's horde. And when our three hacks discover the secret, they milk it for all it's worth, not unlike the franchise itself.

Naturally, our seventies thug can't very well just let the key to his success vanish unchallenged, thus the leprechaun and our seventies thug race against each other to get their hands on the golden trinkets at stake.

Perhaps the worst part of this cinematic blarney is that, before we even see the movie, they're hawking the soundtrack. It's filled with has-beens and never-weres like Coolio, Ice-T, The Boom Brothers, Rated R, and Boney Bones, among a collection of others that probably should've been relegated to K-TEL land long, long ago, but were somehow resurrected, much like this franchise, long after their prime.

However, it's not all bad. There are some interesting comedic elements--watch fairly early on as Ice-T pulls a baseball bat from his afro. This is the biggest failing of Leprechaun: Leprechaun in the Hood. Instead of realizing that it has no legs left as a straight horror title, it just goes straight ahead. The entire Leprechaun series could make a terribly gifted dark comedy. Warwick Davis has proven, when given the opportunity, that he can be a truly impressive comic force. He cracks a handful of jokes throughout the Leprechaun series, and obviously has the comedic chops to pull them off.

It's time for Trimark to wake up and smell the funny!

Continuing to play the Leprechaun franchise straight doesn't help anyone.

The ending is flat out confusing as the leprechaun goes from defeated...to somehow not defeated...to starring in a truly sad music video whose only possible redemption comes from the background dancers. The music is hackneyed beyond all reason and Warwick Davis as a rapper is somewhere between pointless and witlessly offensive.

All in all, I can't believe this is still going on. I REALLY can't believe this is still going on. Worse yet, I can't believe that there's another one AFTER this. It's a series that shows its age, and poorly at that. It takes itself entirely too seriously, ignoring the comedy that it could be using, in favor of trying to pull off an actual movie which fails miserably. This series as a straight horror title has lost its mileage.

 

Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood **
DVD
Directed by Steven Agromlooi

No, that's not a typo.

That's some Lions Gate exec's idea of "street cred," designed to show you, beyond all hope of doubt, that this movie is about a midget Irish demon running loose in the middle of inner city America. So what we have here is the story of, once again, our absent-minded leprechaun who has, once again, lost his pot of, once again, gold. This time around, it's found by a small coterie of inner city youths who actually need the gold very badly. But our greedy leprechaun isn't interested in charitable donations, and thus sets out to reclaim his gold, leading a bloody trail of destruction, one-liners, Irish and African-American stereotyping and assorted sightgags behind him. Okay, I'll admit that the first couple of minutes are actually pretty good. I like this whole animated storybook concept they've got going here--it's only too bad that the rest of the movie decides that it can't keep up with this terrific beginning and instead devolves into more standard direct to video nonsense. And secondly...dear God. Warwick Davis! Will you PLEASE stop this? Everywhere, the vertically challenged howl for you setting their entire cause back about thirty years every time you show up on screen as this second-rate monster-movie wreckage's star. Yes, you had something fairly good, even a little innovative, back in the first one where you gave a young Jennifer Aniston the opportunity to tell us all she knew what a man's hand on her leg felt like. But now, it's really just more of the same. And tacking on this "Tales from the Hood" faux-urban-horror environment just makes it look even shoddier. I think it's pretty safe to call "Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood" a revival of blaxploitation. Sure, we're pushing for some uplifting themes here, what with the poor urban high schoolers (who look like they're in their thirties) trying to better their lives. They're out to improve themselves by way of going to college, getting out of drug dealing, or maybe just quitting the weed-okay, even I don't buy that last one. Weed is as crucial to "Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood" as it was to the entire Clinton Administration. It's a freaking subplot, for crying out loud. Plus, they decided to insert a character that makes Shorty from the "Scary Movie" franchise look like Bill Cosby in terms of moral character. Even the leprechaun can't pass up a shot at the ganja, and is passing the dutchie on the left hand side before the first half-hour of footage passes. However, there are some moments that make "Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood" interesting viewing. Check out the fight scene between the leprechaun and a couple of cops at the fifty-five minute mark. This is actually pretty funny stuff, especially when one cop demands the return of his severed leg. And when the leprechaun can't even score with a random phone hoochie after admitting that he's three foot six (which he does with a fantastic deadpan), he really does make a small push for the challenges of the vertically challenged. I hate to admit it, but as lousy as this movie-indeed, this franchise-is, Warwick Davis really is the most qualified man in cinema to play this part. No one else could do the chronically unnamed leprechaun the way he can. The ending is a pretty sad retread of every other Leprechaun movie before this one--anyone doubting that the leprechaun would be beaten again, for now at least, should watch more movies. It's really rather predictable. The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, audio options, a trailer for "Leprechaun" and "Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood", and storyboards for four scenes.

All in all, if you've seen one Leprechaun, you've pretty much seen them all, and you're probably disgusted by the whole franchise at this point. "Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood" isn't without a certain charm, but just can't pull off anything more than mediocrity.

 

 

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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