Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Saturday, March 16, 2019

A YEAR OF SLASHERS: Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)

From its dubious beginnings, the “Leprechaun” series has prided itself on putting its title character in all sorts of unexpected locations. From the countryside to the big city to Las Vegas, to the furthest reaches of outer space. Even the closure of Trimark Pictures, the series’ original production company, couldn’t stop the Leprechaun’s adventures. With the fifth entry, the Lep went to the hood. The sixth part would break with tradition by retreading old ground. The Leprechaun was going back to the hood. Or, as the subtitle insists on spelling it, “Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood.”

As always, we start with a clean slate. A well-meaning priest stole the Leprechaun’s gold, planning to use it to build a community center for his crime-infested town. He successfully buries the Leprechaun underground but succumbs to his wounds afterwards. A year later, Emily is told by a fortune teller that she’ll soon stumble upon great wealth. Just that happens when she tumbles into the abandoned community center, discovering the Leprechaun’s gold. This reawakens the ill-tempered imp, who goes on another rampage through the hood, seeking his gold and the blood of those who stole it.

“Leprechaun in the Hood” felt like a very dumb but generally good-natured parody of ‘hood movies. “Back 2 tha Hood,” too often, feels like a straight example of urban exploitation flicks. I do not care about the daily strife of Emily, her friend Lisa, and her boyfriend Rory. Their struggles with trying to escape tha hood are routine and uninteresting. A surprising amount of screen time is devoted to their daily struggles. The comedy that does exist in this half is extremely broad. Stoner Jamie’s coining of the phrase “ninja” is a decently amusing running gag. Otherwise, we’re greeted to degrading racial stereotypes, such as gold-digging girlfriends or an obnoxious big woman. Once the Leprechaun shows up and starts, you know, killing people, things improve slightly. But “Back 2 tha Hood” takes far too long to get going.

In the second half of the film, things start to pick up. Warwick Davis’ tiny terror indulges in even goofier shenanigans. He rips on a bong, a genuine moment of dumb comedy, especially once he uses that as a murder weapon. He gets locked in a fridge but is too high to care. The kills are disappointingly low-key. The Leprechaun mostly finishes his victim’s off with his claws, which is a far cry from the magical murders in parts 3 and 4. However, the movie does have some fun with its setting. The Leprechaun’s duel with a pair of racist cops is probably the best scene in the movie, as it involves comical dismemberment. When he gets in the cop car afterwards, realizing he can’t reaches the peddles, I laughed. Once the Leprechaun is on the phone, attempting to score a date, being smashed under the body of a pimp-mobile, and trading kamehamehas with a psychic fortune teller, “Back 2 tha Hood” finally settles into the right kind of ridiculous.

Aside from all the ghetto-set tomfoolery, the sixth “Leprechaun” film expands on the mythology in some interesting ways. The film begins with an animated prologue, explaining the Leprechauns origins, how they were fairies raised to protect kings’ gold. How, after the kings fell out of favor, most returned to the Earth. Except for one who, out of greed, started to horde the gold. Gee whiz, that’s actually a pretty epic origin for the most laughable of horror movie threats. The movie returns to older aspects of the series, reestablishing the Leprechaun’s weakness to four-leaf clovers. The general make-up remains the same but the Leprechaun is sporting slightly different duds this time, including an overcoat and a new hat. I can’t say I care for that.

Through it all, there’s Warwick Davis, cracking silly jokes and generally having the time of his life. Davis’ unending enthusiasm for the role – let’s face it, the guy is in “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars.” He doesn’t need these movies – is what kept the entire, ridiculous, hideously dumb but oddly endearing “Leprechaun” series afloat for six movies. “Back 2 tha Hood” is not the peak of the franchise. That dubious honor still goes to the one-two punch of Las Vegas and “In Space.” But it’s not without its moments either. Fans have sat through the rest of the franchise. Odds are good they’ll sit through this too. [6/10]

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