Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Cheap-Arse Film Review #13- "LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD."










(Yeah, this one's going up late as well. Three days late at that. I have no excuse, other than this time of year is mental. Normal service shall be resumed this coming Wednesday. Promises)

"So," I can hear you say, "No New Years themed review?"

In a word, no.

In two words, bugger that.

The Christmas reviews were fun to write, and I'm pleased people seemed to like them (if we're going on comments alone, the "Home Alone 4," review is the most popular one I've done so far), but putting the thing together was a bloody nightmare. When I started, I had three films already in place, but I wasn't worried about finding a forth one, because hey, it's December, how hard could it be to find a Christmas movie? The answer, as it turned out, was "borderline fucking impossible." There was nothing out there, at least not in my price range. I lost count of how many times I cursed myself for not making the price limit £2.00. If I'd gone to £2.50 I could have covered "Black Christmas." It was total dumb luck that I found "White Christmas," in my local CEX, not even out on the shelves, in a bleeding box that I started digging through because I was totally out of options and this close to knocking on my friend's doors and asking if they had any Christmas movies they felt like selling me for a quid. So I'm going to enjoy being able to review whatever I want to for a little while.

But after having said all that, there is a slight method to my madness with regard to this film. Now, I'm not a particularly superstitious person, at least not to the level of my sister. She once screamed for me to come into the kitchen like she'd just had something terrible happen to her, I ran in there expecting to see blood and possibly a missing limb of some sort, only for me to find that she'd dropped a knife on the floor, and wanted me to pick it up for her, as she'd heard that it's unlucky for you to pick up a knife you've dropped. WAT? But at the same time, I don't have the best luck in the world, ask anybody that knows me (actually, don't), so I'll admit I was a little bit nervous going into my 13th review. I mean, what if my fingers seize up, or I make even more spelling and grammar mistakes than usual (or the review goes up late...)? So I decided to counteract any possible bad luck by invoking The Luck of the Irish. Hence, a movie with a Leprechaun in it.

The "Leprechaun," series is legendary amongst people who love cheesy horror movies, usually from an ironic standpoint. The first one however is on the radar of anybody who calls themselves a cinephile, as it features Jennifer Aniston in her first feature film role (and maybe her first role in anything, I'm not too sure), in which she does a topless scene, causing some of the bawdier denizens of the Internet to refer to it simply as "The movie where Rachel gets her tits out." When asked about it today, her stock answer is to jokingly say she wasn't in it, in a manner that makes it obvious she wishes she wasn't joking. There were three straight sequels to this, the last of which taking The Leprechaun where all great B-Movie horror icons must go- Space. Then the franchise took a four year break, only to come roaring back to life with an urban makeover.

You'll also have noticed from the picture at the top that this film comes as part of one of those value "4-in-1," DVDs. And no, I'm not reviewing all of them. I considered it for about a second, but in the end it would be a pointless venture, because say I did and I really, really liked two movies, and absolutely hated the other two. What would I do then? Cut the disc down the middle and throw half away? No, it's better to just let the hopes of the disc ride on one movie, that way if I do like it and keep it I can consider the other movies a bonus, and not feel too bad if/when they turn out to be shit.

The movie begins with The Leprechaun (who I'll refer to as Lep, as he he often does in the movie) walking down a stone spiral staircase, before reaching a pot of gold. As he does this, we hear him recite a rhyme in voiceover: "Death to he who sets a Leprechaun free, steal his gold, it will corrupt your soul you see. For many a moon, the legend has grown, death toll increases, solution: unknown. Beware the evil wanderer in search of his loot, lest ya suffer the wrath of his golden flute (must... resist... dick joke...). Flee while you can, the futures not good, for no one is safe.. from a Lep in the hood." I have to say, this is an awesome use of economic character establishment, telling you all you need to know about Lep in about 30 seconds- he's an evil little bastard, and if you touch his gold, he'll kill you. By the way, he's played by Warwick Davis, the guy from "Willow," who was probably The World's best known Dwarf actor until Vern Troyer turned up. Having never seen any of the "Leprechaun," movies before (so yes, I can review all of them if I find them cheap enough), I assumed Lep would be represented by puppetry or bad CGI, so to see him on-screen as a guy in make-up was a nice surprise, and finding out Davis plays him made it even better.

Then, following the credits, Ice-T smashes through a wall dressed like a pimp with an Afro. I can't believe I just typed that, but there it is. I like Ice-T, both as a rapper and an actor. He doesn't exactly have what what you'd call range, and this part doesn't stretch him even if he did, but he's a very charismatic guy, and unlike alot of rappers who take a stab at acting, he seems to be willing to pay his dues, not just appearing in movies, but also securing a regular gig on one of the seemingly endless "Law & Order," spin-offs. And as for this movie, well, like I said, dues need to be paid.

Judging by the attire worn by he and his cohort, who doesn't have a name so he'll obviously be dead soon, we're left to asume this is taking place in the 70s. They've seemingly broken into an abandoned subway station looking for someone... or something... I'm not really that sure. I think gold is mentioned. Anyway, all they find is some Colt 45s and fast food of the fried chicken veriety (HELP! I'M DROWNING IN RACIAL STEREOTYPES!), which causes Mack Daddy (Ice's character, which I forgot to mention in te previous paragraph), to throw his friend through another wall when he makes a joke about their situation, which seemed a little harsh to me. Anyway, on the other side of the wall, the find not only the pot of gold, but also a really creepy looking statue of a Leprechaun wearing a gold medallion. I wonder if that medallion thing has been in any of the other movies, or if they just decked him out in it to make him fit in a bit with his 70s surroundings. They celebrate their find, then Mack finds what I presume is the Golden Flute mentioned by Lep before the credits, and doesn't seem all that interested in the rest of the gold, leaving his bitch (what else am I supposed to call a man who gets thrown through a wall and then acts like nothing happened?) to collect the rest.

Does he take the medallion off the statue? And does it come to life and kill him? Yep, on both count. Kills him with his Afro comb too, which was a nice touch. Mack Daddy and Lep then have a stand off. He comes at him with a gun, which Lep quickly disposes off with his magic. Mack then... pulls a flick knife out of his afro? Um... okay, I'll go with it, it's wacky but not totally unbelievable. Lep gets rid of that too, so Mack... pulls a baseball bat out of his fro?! I... I don't know if I think that's fantastic or not. That too proves useless, and Mack finds himself at Lep's mercy. "Stealin' me gold's no way to grow old," he informs him, "now me little room shall become... your.. tomb." Oh Jesus, is he going to speak in rhyme the entire movie? It was fine at the start, but I can see that growing highly annoying as this thing goes on. Thinking on his feet, Mack opens a conveniently-placed steam valve in Lep's face, causing him to fall back on a piece of wood that had been conveniently placed on a brick, conveniently making it a sort-of seesaw that the magic medallion had been conveniently dropped on, causing it to fly up into the air and conveniently land around Lep's neck, tunring him back to stone. I was going to make a joke about how there was so much convenience in this sequence that you could open a Convenience Store and sell it, but I thought against it as it wouldn't have been funny.

As you can tell, the first seven minutes of this movie (and yeah, all that happened in seven minutes) are pretty damn awesome. And I hope you enjoyed reading about them, because that's basically your lot. From this point forward, the film can't sustain that level of awesome for any prolonged period of time. There are sporadic fits of awesome here and there, but they're overshadowed by everything else. The first thing that drags it down is the fact that the opening scene, and the front of the box, which has Ice-T's name and Ice-T's name alone listed next to the movie (poor Warwick Davis doesn't even get a mention), sold us something of a red herring, as he's not the main character. He's an important character, the secondary villain, but I was really hoping we'd be following him all the way through this film. I mean, I just watched him pull an arsenal out of his hair! How could I not want to film to be about him? But sadly it's not to be, and from this point on we're supposed to care about a bunch of geeks in a socially conscious rap group, made up of Postmaster P (Anthoney Montgomery), the only one who seems all that interested in putting a positive message out there, Stray Bullet (Rashaan Nall), the ambitious would-be Gangsta who's more than happy to get rid of all that hippy crap if it'll get them signed, and Butch (Red Grant), the fat smart virgin. When we first meet them, we see them on a stage auditioning for some contest that'll supposedly get them signed. They sound alright in an old-school way, but they don't exactly blow your skirt up. Maybe that's the point. Anyway, they're doing their thing, Butch seems to be mesing around with chemicals on the mixing desk for no reason I can think of, and then suddenly there's an explosion big enough to send P and Bullet flying off the stage and through tables. That was... unexpected.

So now they have to replace the recording equipment they destroyed, which they do so by trying to flog a bogus Jimi Hendrix guitar to a couple of stores, one owned by a stereotypical asian named Chow Jung Pi that there's not really much to say about, the other by Jackie Dee (Dan Martin, who anime nerds might be interested to know has provided voicework for "Trigun," and, "Akira," amongst others), who is a living, breathing example of one of those sporodic fits of awesome I was talking about. He sees through the guys scheme, tells them to fuck off, calls P's message wack and informs Butch, "Boy you need to get yourself some pussy, before you blow your dick off messin' around with all those chemicals." All in a voice that sounds like Darth Vader decided to become a lounge singer. He's in this movie nowhere near enough.

Eventually we finally get to see Mack Daddy again, and discover in the proceeding 20-plus years, he's given up pimping and appears to own his own hip-hop label. "Gangsta Hip-Hop," P informs us, in a tone that lets us know this is supposed to be A Bad Thing. He also doesn't seem to have aged at all in all this time, although he has lost the 'fro (BOOOOOO!). The movie makes no atempt to explain why he still looks the same. I mean, it would have been pretty easy, they could have just said that the Golden Flute he carries around with him prolonges his life Master Ring-style, but no, we're just supposed to believe getting a haircut equals getting old. He talks to the guys, and they manage to arrange a meeting with him to play one of their tracks. He listens to it for a couple of seconds with a look of pure distain on his face before having it shut off. His verdict is, "It's not much, but it's not the worst," which sounds pretty fair to me. He then says he'd be interested in signing them if they knock this positive message shit on the head and start rapping about firearms and vaginas. This doesn't go down too well with the the group themselves. Well, in all honesty, Postmaster P's the only one who has a real problem with it, Stray Bullet in particular seems like he's been waiting for someone to say this for a very long time. There's a little bit of in-fighting, Mack Daddy hears enough and tells them they've blown their chance, insinuates that he's had sex with Stray Bullet's mother, blah blah blah. It ends with them being no better off than they were that morning, not signed, broke and still without recording equipment, which causes Stray Bullet to suggest for them to rob Mack Daddy's home, that way they can buy new equipment with what they find, and make him pay for dissing them, with P once again being the only person person not down with this. I really don't get how P and Bullet are even friends, let alone how they can co-exists musically, they're such diametrically-opposed people.

Anyway, he eventually comes round to Stray's way of thinking, and next thing you know, they're in Mack Daddy's house turning shit over. Seriously, that's the next scene. And you'd think it wouldn't be that easy either. I mean, not only is Mack Daddy a very rich guy, ut he's a very rich guy with magic artifacts lying around. You'd think he'd at least, y'know, have security cameras or a front door with a decent lock. Mack Daddy comes in and finds them there, and then P accidently shoots him. I'll give the movie some credit here, it goes out of it's way to get accross that the shooting is an accident, done with a gun that P didn't bring with him, but found on the scene. However, once they're about to make off with all the gold they've found, which of course includes the medallion from around Lep's neck that causes him to return to life, and they turn round to see this strange little man rhyming at them (and name-dropping Tiger Woods, too), their first instinct is it PUMP THE LITTLE FUCKER FULL OF LEAD! Including P, who I guess thinks, "fuck it, I've already killed one person, may as well keep going." They shoot him so much, his arm flies off. It's...amazing.

Of course, neither Mack Daddy nor Lep are really dead. There's still over an hour of run-time left, after all. Mack is saved de to a piece of jewellery he's wearling (CONVENIENTLY!) stopping the bullet, and Lep, well... he's magic. No explaination needed. They make a deal in the men's room of a club over a shared joint ("A friend with weed is a friend indeed," Lep says. "Oh fuck off," I said) that Mack is to bring back all the gold P and his riends stole and return it to him, otherwise he'll kill him. Actually, that's not rally much of a deal, is it? He then shows he's serious by ripping off one of Mack's fingers, one that had a ring on it that was presumably originally part of his pot. The best thing about this scene is that it's very obvious watching it that this isn't the first time Warwick Davis has smoked a joint. He then leaves the stall and discovers rap music, and...

... oh God, he's going to rap at some point, isn't he? Sure, why not? If the Scottish can claim they invented rap (because white people absolutely positively need to believe they invented everything!), then why can't the Irish get in on the act too? It never hurt Everlast.

The guys use the gold they've found to buy new equipment off the same people that shunned their scam earlier. I love that, the fact that these places just accept gold as currency no questions asked. During both these scenes, P is scene mourfully hanging out in the background, obviously troubled by what he's done, playing around with the Golden Flute he took off Mack Daddy's body (obviously he wasn't remoursful enough for it to prevent him from robbing the presumed dead), and blowing into it. Both time he does, a strange tune plays, and the other three people in the scene turn to look at him, all slack jaws and dead eyes. They then shake it off and nothing comes of it. It's later explained that the flute can be used to make people think their music is better than it is, which would also explain why Mack Daddy is so desperate to get it back, but here it's just strange. Especially the fact that they feel the need to do the same thing twice. What were they, afraid we wouldn't notice the first time of something? Lep then goes on a rampage, killing the store owners that now have his loot (including using the image of Jackie Dee's dead wife, Jackie Cee, to seduce him), before deciding to go after Postmaster P and friends to get his flute back.

They've got problems of their own already though, as what they believe is the ghost of Mack Daddy has come looking for them to get the Flute back, causing them to take refuge in the one place he wouldn't think to look for them, that being with the outrageously gay crossdresser Fountaine Rivera (Lobo Sebastian). It's a one-note joke that's only funny if you find the sight of bulky, in-no-way feminine-looking men prancing around in pink dresses and wigs amusing. Facinatingly, this movie seems to find this concept the funniest thing in the world, but we'll get into that more later. Lep shows up and is greeted by Fountaine, who he initially dismisses with the pithy line, "I didn't come to play with fruit, I only came for me Magic Flute." I'm ashamed to admit it, but I chuckled. Anyway, Lep kills him (in a manner that makes it look like he's having sex with him, because there's no way they could pass up the chance to make that joke), before getting set on fire when Butch finally gets to put his knowledge of chemicals to good use.

Finally realising they're up against dark forces, they decide their nextport of call should be a church, specifically the one run by Reverend Hamson (Ivory Ocean... the actors in this movie have fantastic names), who agrees to let them stay one one condition- they must provide the musical entertainment for that day's sermon. They reluctantly agree, and predictably they don't go down that well, which probably has something to do with them singing about hoes. P uses the flute to bring the congregation back, including Coolio...

... wait... Coolio? Yeah, Coolio. Standing in the door of the church, looking as confused as I'm sure I do now. And then he's never seen again. This is one of the most random movies I've ever seen. The celebrations prove shortlived however, as both Mack Daddy and Lep show up to claim what they both believe to be theirs. Lep blows a hole in Mack's bodyguard using his magic (which makes me wonder why he doesn't just do that all the time), Mack Daddy runs for his life, and the guys outsmart Lep by trapping him in a safe. I've just noticed that at this point this film has become an adult Looney Toons cartoon.

Thinking the coast is now clear for a while, the boys decide to refocus on the audition that's going to take them to Vegas, with them using the Flute to win over the crowd. Again, it's amazing just how fast Mr. Positive Message is willing to sell out his beliefs and cheat to get ahead. Lep meanwhile finally remembers he can use magic, and summons help to get him out of his trap. Brilliantly, he calls on the help of "The Zombie Flygirls." I was hoping they'd be all rotting and slow walking, but sadly they turned out to just be normal (though attractive) women with green glowing eyes like they'd been exposed to too much Gamma radiation (sorry, geeky reference). One distracts the Reverend whilst another frees Lep, who then kills him by shoving his entire hand through his stomach from behind. I could complain about this and say that Lep's arms are far too small for him to be able to stand next to the Reverend with his arm through him, but you know what? Fuck it. It's a cool death scene and at this point I'm going to try and find enjoyment in this movie anywhere I can.

The guys are told be the owner of "Dope Disc Productions," (who's for some reason played by a chubby white guy in a cowboy hat) "The biggest Hip-Hop Label in history!" we're told by Stray Bullet, that they're going to the finals in Vegas. The Lep once again shows up to rain on their parade, forcing them to hand over the Flute, then using his magic to make Stray Bullet turn is gun on himself.

Not wanting their friend's death to be in vain, P and Butch come up with a plan to get the Flute. Are you ready to hear what their plan is? Their plan is to dress up as women to get close to Lep, who they've established has a thing for shemales from earlier, and get him to smoke a joint full of Four-Leaf Clovers. I didn't make a single bit of that up, I swear. They first convince the Zombie Flygirls to take a toke, and once they've turned back to normal (m, aren't they supposed to be dead? Shouldn't they just fall to the ground when the magic wears off), P gets them to tell him where Lep is. They go to him, get him to smoke the joint, and... oh Christ, he wants P to give him a handjob. I don't need to see this, if I wanted to see this I could type a whole bunch of keywords into Redtube...

... phew, he passes out before the deed is done. Butch and P then try to escape, but who have they forgotten about? Mack Daddy, of course, who turns up and shoots Butch, who mournfully begs his friend, "Notin a dress, Dawg," before uttering his last words, "They got pussy in Heaven, right?" I hope so, son. God, do I hope so. P, who had his back to us during this, then turns to face the camera, and... YES! YES! HE'S CRYING! THE MAN IN A DRESS IS SHEDDING ONE, LONE, MANLY TEAR FOR HIS DEAD, DRAGGED-UP FRIEND! STOP THE FILM! IT'S PEAKED! It's worth mention at this point to just how seriously the three man leads have taken this movie. You'd really think they were in "Menace 2 Society" or something similar, and I have to sayb I have grudging admiration for them because of that. Their efforts are misguided, but at least there was effort there.

P then decides being a Gangsta is the only option left to him at this point and shoots Mack Daddy twice in the chest. Strangely, this doesn't kill him. If anything, it makes him stronger, as he rises up laughing like a madman and actually helps P fight Lep, who finally does away with him by making his stomach explode (WHY DOESN'T HE DO THAT ALL THE TIME?! SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THIS TO ME!), and then it gets... confusing. Once again the medallion ends up flying through the air, and once again we assume it lands on Lep, freezing him. However, we then cut to a scene of P performing on stage (and I use "performing" in the loosest possible terms, because all he does is come out and chant the same line over and over again), in a black suit and shades, which once removed, show his eyes are glowing green. Lep is then shown in the crowd grinning, and informs the audience, "I taught him everything he knows." So... did Lep kill P? Is he now controlling him? Did they cut some kind of deal? None of this is made clear. The last thing we're presented with is Warwick Davis performing the song, "Lep In The Hood." And I don't even really care that much, I'm just glad it's over.

I can't really put into words how strange a movie this is. I mean, it's obvious what they wanted to do, they wanted to do what was trendy at the time, which was a horror-comedy. And if that is the way you want to go, then you can have worse starting points then having a killer Leprechaun going after some rappers. But the thing is, it doesn't work. As a horror movie it fails because it's just not scary. It's gory, I'll give it that. It doesn't skimp on the gore. But gore does not a good horror move make, at least it shouldn't. As a comedy it's vaguely more successful, there were a few moments that made me titter, but it's never really of the laugh-out-loud veriety. And it's hung up on the oddest things, like crossdressing. This movie, and presumably the people behind the making of it, seems to think that a dude in a dress is the funniest thing in the world. Now, I'm not going to say it's not funny, because it can be, but when you have three guys dressed up as women in the whole movie, and the entire ending is based around it, then I don't really know what to say.

Other than...



Get away from ye, ya shitty movie. Ya not that good and ya... smell of... doodie?

Okay, that's nt as easy as it looks.

Until next week, I'm The Cheap-Arse Film Critic, and my Grandpa asked me one time if I care whether I live or die. Yeah I do. Now it's too late.


Redunbeck said...

Even I would never dare touch a Leprechaun movie...A brave man you are.

For some reason, reading about this movie makes me think of Tales from da Hood, and if I remember that movie correctly...that probably isn't a good thing. Anything from or in da hood is just bad (notable exception being Boyz n The Hood, of course).

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

I was hoping to find this movie specifically at some point. I'm not sure I'll ever watch all the other movies, but the one set in space sounds tempting, and this one has a direct sequel, "Leprechaun: Back 2 the Hood," which might be worth a peek.

The Lam said...

First of all, I love that it was included in a 4-movies in one combo, capturing the very essence of a cheap movie.

I didn't much like this movie either. I enjoyed (to a certain degree) the first 3, but after sending him to space, I knew it was game over. I think Lep in the Hood was at least better than the Space one. I can't think of one horror franchise that produced a good movie when sending their titular character into space.

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

Thing was, I had found it on its own a couple of times, and both times it was over my budget, so I was amazed to see it on a 4-in-1 that I could buy.

I think, if I watch any of the other movies, it will probably be the space one. It just appeals to my sense of trash, that all these films sort-of hark back to the old drive-in days, and ending up in space would have been where all those movies went. I mean, I'm the only person I know who had an absolute ball watching "Jason X."

indyhermit said...

Wow, that is one long film review.

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

I can't do anything else.

The Lam said...

I too enjoyed Jason X much to all my friends chagrin. I got to talk to the writer and one special F/X guy when they were making it, it was wild.

Oh yah, as for Jennifer Aniston. I'm not surprised that she denies being in the movie. She's had so much success post-Leprachuan, so much that I can't see her actively trying to remember that she was in this movie. A shame, but such is life.

jeffrey said...

Aniston proves Leprechaun's are lucky.

venomtheevil said...



The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

I honestly don't think I can resist the temptation...

Mike said...

I can only assume LEPRECHAUN IN SPACE will logically be the next installment of this series.

jeffrey said...

Town, city, country, the "hood", or... space... I suspect it won't matter much to Lep where he practices his shenanigans.