FOR ALL THE GIMMICKY horror films that have existed over the years – from rip-offs like Orca to the bafflers like Maximum Overdrive to the gorefests of Evil Dead – the Leprechaun series might well be the most self-aware cavalcade of wincing awfulness that limped into three-plus instalments.
It knows it’s horrendous – how could it not? – but there’s a fine line between winking at the camera and winking at the camera. That should have been proven by Leprechaun 4: In Space, its own title a punchline, wherein Warwick Davis’ grinning mischief-maker erupts from the aroused penis of an astronaut.
But don’t let that stop you; it didn’t stop director Rob Spera, or Davis himself. Leprechaun 5: In the Hood – for that is its title – is just another entry in a franchise that was dead on arrival. Not content with running Irish culture into the ground, In the Hood decides to bust some rhymes on the corpse of hip-hop as well.
On paper, this sounds like a cult masterpiece: A flagrant mishmash of stereotypes and casual racism shoved into a B-movie blender, the puce-y glop of which would be deposited in a bargain bin somewhere, there to await its inevitable lampshading in a Cracked article. If you’re reading this, you already know that would be too simple. The important question, really, should have been: How does a series follow up the creative bankruptcy of “the same thing but IIIIN SPAAAAACE”?
What we get, it turns out, is a stupefyingly boring turd that fails to exploit its yawnsome premise. Devoid of laughs, wit or even camp value, In the Hood can only be considered entertaining to the late-90s equivalent of That Guy from Futurama. Its only glimmers of hope come from the ever-reliable Warwick Davis, whose twinkling eyes and lopsided grin hint at the fun that could have been.
That fun is, all so desperately briefly, clear and present in the opening five minutes. A delicious slice of pseudo-Blaxploitation a la Shaft or Sweet Sweetback, Ice-T’s Mack Daddy O’Nassas emerges from the rubble of a derelict building looking like Dolemite, sporting a marvellous afro and fur-lined coat. Finding the titular Leprechaun (Davis), Mack Daddy manages to imprison the creature in his amulet for 20 years.
Unfortunately, Mack Daddy loses the afro and the platform heels and turns into another slummin’ Ice-T performance in a bog-standard, no-budget schlock-fest. Fans of the rapper will remember his crackling turn alongside Wesley Snipes in New Jack City; to see him reduced to this snarling facsimile of the kind of typecasting that Ice Cube has now made his own is, truly, disheartening.
Davis, meanwhile, is in his element. Never one to step away from a challenge, he hams it up to a respectable level as the titular Leprechaun, despite his indulgence culminating in a deeply offensive (and quite awful) rap. “Lep in the hood / Come to do no good” is the terminal hook, with Davis flanked by minidress-clad ladies, all parties looking mortified.
The plot is milquetoast. Three aspiring rappers accidentally steal the Leprechaun’s magic flute – which, conveniently, has the power to entrance anyone who hears it – and old green-and-tiny has to smoke all the blunts in the world while stabbing them in the throat or some such. The truth is, I don’t remember what happened. No one does. I doubt the cast and crew remember what happened. The point, if indeed there was one, is Warwick Davis fucks people up and winks at the camera.
Bob’s your uncle, there’s your double rainbow. Leprechaun 5: In the Hood is a boring pot of turd and a middle-fingered clover to the art of crafting camp. As a comedy, it’s laughless; as a horror, it’s laughable. And, hey, guess what? I don’t give a shit about Back 2 Da Hood. I think I’d sooner watch Willow 2: How Madmartigan Got His Boogaloo Back.
Oh, yes. Coolio shows up. As himself. Need I say more?