That Movie Exists?! is a monthly series on movies that sound too incredible to be real -- but much to our delight, they are. This month: the hip-hop horror comedy 'Leprechaun: In the Hood.'
"Death to he who sets a leprechaun free
Steal his gold, it will corrupt your soul, y'see"
'Tis the opening line of 'Leprechaun: In the Hood'
The fifth installment of a franchise not good.
A simple tale about money and greed
Best enjoyed when consumed with a large bag of weed.
See how easy it is to write in couplet form? In a movie that somehow manages to set the Irish, little people and rappers all back decades, 'Leprechaun: In The Hood,' the fourth sequel in the sorta-popular 'Leprechaun' franchise, throws out any semblance of horror intended by the original films and leaves us with this: Warwick Davis, complete with Irish brogue and corny-dad couplets, dropped off in the titular hood of Compton, Calif., to duel with Ice-T, summon zombie flygirls (more on that later) and, yes, rap himself (much more on that later.)
To be fair, I genuinely enjoyed 'In the Hood,' mainly because it doesn't pretend to be anything other than high camp created with a Suge Knight-sized sense of self-awareness. But any movie with a character named Mack Daddy O'Nassas -- "He was a pimp," says one rapper to another. "Back in the day, Mack Daddy owned asses." -- deserves a spot in this column.
20 years ago, Ice-T and a friend use a map to find a leprechaun's hidden stash of gold. This will be the most plausible sentence you'll read in this paragraph. Gold is stolen, a necklace keeping the leprechaun in stone is removed, said friend is killed by leprechaun with his own afro pick and Ice-T manages to take the gold and get the necklace back around the leprechaun's neck.
Cut to present day: An aspiring hip-hop group, rebuffed by now-record label owner Ice-T, breaks into his home, steals his jewels and, after removing the necklace, unleashes the leprechaun to hunt down anyone connected with stealing his gold. Why break into Ice's home? The group is trying to get to the "Vegas hip-hop café," an obvious end point on the road to hip-hop superstardom.
It's hard to say which is worse: the rhyming couplets employed by the leprechaun or the forced, painful hip-hop slang written by a man who has presumably only read about the hood in The Atlantic. Maybe it was a contractual obligation to use a played-out hip-hop cliché every five minutes, but be prepared for "You want to be large?", "Ain't nothin' but a hip-hop thing," and "You must be trippin'" ad infinitum.
The couplets are no better. To wit, "Unhand me gold, you thieving hoods/You got more loot than Tiger Woods." Or my personal favorite: "Come closer, come closer, my fresh young lass/Let me take a look at ya before I tap your ass." Yes, Virginia, there is a leprechaun, and apparently he's as horny as the rest of us.
The film raises more questions than answers: What blackmail scheme forced Ice-T, a respectable actor in 'New Jack City,' 'Trespass' and 'Ricochet,' to take this role? (Had this movie been made after he joined 'Law and Order,' the excuses dwindle to zero.) Was our protagonist really about to fellate a leprechaun? Why does Coolio make a non-speaking cameo appearance? (Heads up to moviegoers: Anytime you're flipping channels and hear the phrase, "Yo, that's Coolio!" on television, put the remote down.)
There are some intentionally funny moments, however. If you can't laugh at the idea of Ice-T sharing a joint with a leprechaun before getting his finger ripped off, you have no soul. Same goes for lacing weed with four-leaf clovers to knock the leprechaun out to steal his magic flute. (Long story. Just go with it.) But it's the unintentional moments -- Ice-T delivering dialogue like, "I'ma kill that green motherf*cker" with the gravitas of Olivier in 'Hamlet' comes to mind -- that make this worth watching.
That, and the zombie flygirls, which the leprechaun summons "from the depths of the Netherworld." Notwithstanding that the term "flygirl" hadn't been used since Keenan Ivory Wayans was still on the air, the trio of women -- clad in gold lame, with green, fluorescent eyes -- exist to get Leprechaun some decidedly non-Leprechaun female companions. If that's the direction you're going, guys, don't half-ass it. Show the sex scenes, complete with "pot of gold" and "good things come in small packages" play on words.
Then we have the end, in which our villain raps. I could make a joke, but really, just click play. This is why the Internet exists.
I won't ruin the movie, but suffice to say at least one rapper becomes successful, thus prompting arguably the greatest rap backstory since 50 Cent was shot nine times in his car. Putting Leprechaun in the hood -- and, before this, in space -- is a beautiful precedent, implying, correctly, that there is no scenario too ridiculous to put a gnome with the humor of a Borscht Belt comic in. Nature reserve, Middle East peace talks, Wild West. It's all fair game.
But despite all the money and power, Leprechaun couldn't fully establish his street cred in one film. Cue 2003's 'Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood,' in which our hero utters, "What's up, ninjas?" The less said about that one, the better.