So it’s St Patrick’s Day and I thought I would celebrate it as every other Irish horror fan would (though I myself am Scottish) – by watching all six of the Leprechaun movies, getting drunk and stuffing myself full of potatoes. Okay, that’s maybe not how all Irish horror fans celebrate today but I do know the one thing that us Scots and the Irish have in commmon – we love a wee dram. There’s no better reason to watch the Leprechaun movies than to have an excuse for getting absolutely legless. They’re bad movies. Some of them are terrible. Yet Warwick Davis is someone I always like to see working and he makes the title character all his own, even through the make-up and dodgy FX. So, with a top ‘o the mornin’ to ya, I present . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the Leprechaun series.
Leprechaun (1993) – And so it begins. Mark Jones is the writer and director and, therefore, the one to blame for a lame horror movie that would spawn numerous unwarranted sequels.
Someone steals a leprechaun’s gold and gets terrorised because of it. Having locked the wee green fella in a crate, with a four-leafed clover on top, it’s only a matter of time until things go awry again and the thing gets loose.
Cut to: ten years later.
A father and daughter move into the house containing that damn crate and things quickly turn green and horrid as the leprechaun is let loose and starts searching once again for his pot o’ gold.
Leprechaun is, clearly, a bizarre attempt to create a new entrant for the horror hall of fame and it worked in many ways. The character is well known to horror fans and certainly managed to get plenty of entries into a series that didn’t really have the steam to limp through one movie, let alone many more. The baddie comes across as an irritating mix of the djinn from Wishmaster and Funny Man (which actually came AFTER this movie) but is played with gusto by Warwick Davis, a man I always like to see being kept in gainful employment. I’d also have to say that the make-up for the creature is very well done and one thing that would remain a highlight of the series.
As for the rest of the cast; we get a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston in her first movie role and she does okay, especially in her ability to look cute while wearing teeny denim shorts. Ken Olandt is relatively inoffensive as leading hunk Nathan while young Robert Gorman occasionally irritates as the smart-ass little brother, Alex. Mark Holton plays a simple man and is also bearable though he is also the cause of all of their problems after accidentally swallowing a piece of gold.
In fact, some of Leprechaun works well for what it is – a ridiculous horror movie with a strange seam of humour running through it. The death scenes aren’t too bad and the novelty of seeing the leprechaun chasing people while on a little tricycle is amusing enough, for a little while. Sadly, the joke soon wears thin. I must say, however, that this may well be the only horror movie in which potential victims delay the killer by throwing shoes at him (he has to stop and polish them all). For good reason.
Ridiculous, full of plot-holes that you could drive a truck through (as is every entry in the series) and never actually scary, this is a movie best watched with a pint of Guinness or two and a willingness to laugh at the material rather than with it.
Leprechaun 2 (1994) – There’s no attempt at continuity here, this movie does not follow directly on from the first one and nor does it stick to the same rules when it comes to battling an angry leprechaun.
“She sneezes once, she sneezes twice, she’ll be me bride when she sneezes thrice” – that’s the plot right there. Once every thousand years the evil leprechaun (Warwick Davis) gets to find a bride and he does this by making her sneeze three times. If people nearby are rude enough to not say “god bless you” then she is his. Having been thwarted on his first attempt, the leprechaun is understandably frustrated at having to wait another thousand years but he does so. He also picks a direct descendant of the man who thwarted him the first time around. Her name is Bridget (Shevonne Durkin) and the lad who loves her, Cody (Charlie Heath), isn’t too happy about the situation. But who can help him? Probably not his drunk Uncle Morty (Sandy Baron), who spends his time fleecing suckers with an overpriced “terror tour”.
Leprechaun 2 follows a movie that was far from great and generally makes everything a bit worse. Charlie Heath is okay as the brave wannabe-boyfriend and the great Sandy Baron is as great as ever but Shevonne Durkin is a pitiful lead actress and drags down almost every scene that she’s in.
There’s now an additional rule that if you’re holding a piece of the leprechaun’s gold then you’re unable to be harmed by the leprechaun (hmmm, so the big man who accidentally ATE a piece in the first movie should have been invincible) and a new way to hurt the evil wee man is to use wrought iron (?!?).
Never mind the actors though, or even the ridiculousness of it all, this is all about the leprechaun going around town and having fun. He also gets very drunk, in one enjoyable scene pitting his drinking prowess against that of Sandy Baron.
Director Rodman Flender throws a couple of fun cameos in here and there (Kimmy Robertson and Clint Howard turn up for a couple of minutes while Tony Cox has fun in the aforementioned bar scene) and keeps things on track regarding the silly humour but it’s all just a bit of an insurmountable hurdle for fans to genuinely enjoy, excepting any scene with Sandy Baron in it. As for the script by Al Septien and Turi Meyer, surely the two were just having a laugh and thinking up terrible rhyming couplets for the leprechaun to spout.
Fun, but mainly in all the wrong ways.
Leprechaun 3 (1995) – Vegas baby, Vegas. Yes, the third in the Leprechaun series once again ignores all that’s come before it (with the exception of the main killer) and decides to have some fun in Vegas.
The leprechaun is this time taken to a pawn shop (there’s now a magical medallion that keeps it petrified) and it’s not long until someone greedy brings him back to life. Meanwhile we have young Tammy (Lee Armstrong), a magician’s assistant trying to make a better life for herself, and Scott (John Gatins), a bright-eyed and naïve young lad, meeting up with each other just before their world is completely shamrocked.
We also get an additional little trick in this movie with one of the leprechaun’s gold shillings granting whoever holds it a wish and this allows for even more outlandish trickery and “fun” to be heaped on to the proceedings.
Well, if you’ve endured the first two movies and want more ridiculous adventures for our titular baddie (Warwick Davis, as always) then this is the movie for you. More reminiscent than ever of the Wishmaster movies (especially the second movie that also featured a casino-set finale), this film veers from the sublime to the ridiculous every other minute.
We get the leprechaun meeting an Elvis lookalike and doing his best impersonation of the swivel-hipped one, we get a number of fake TV ads with our little green man in the central roles, we get someone actually turning “to the green side” and having this manifest through a developing Irish accent and a craving for all things potato and we get even more dire rhyming couplets.
There’s also some nudity thrown in there (hey, I may be shallow but it’s often appreciated when all else fails), a number of fatalities that result from wishes being undone and some semi-decent acting from Armstong and Gatins. John DeMita is also fun as a stage magician who has an ego bigger than his talent, Michael Callan is okay as Mitch and Caroline Williams has a bitter-sweetness to her performance as aging Casino gal Loretta.
Brian Trenchard-Smith directs this outing and David DuBos is on the scripting duties so one can only imagine that the two got together and had some clover-laced special brew before creating a movie chock full of the nonsense on display here.
Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997) – Space, often the place where franchises go to die (hey, I really enjoyed Jason X and Critters 4 but many didn’t and the least said about some of the Hellraiser sequels the better) and the place where the Leprechaun series reaches its nadir.
Brian Trenchard-Smith returns to the director’s chair (but it’s Dennis A. Pratt writing this time) and seems intent on making the very least of the obvious low-budget and silliness of the concept.
There’s no set-up, no explanation and no consideration for the poor viewers who will kill some braincells watching this as we start off with the leprechaun (Warwick Davis) wooing a princess. Unfortunately, his wooing is interrupted by a bunch of space soldiers who destroy him (yeah right) and take the princess away with them. Before you can sing “Danny Boy” the leprechaun is on board their spaceship and killing off everyone, one by one. Perhaps the beautiful Dr Tina Reeves (Jessica Collins) and soldier Books (Brent Jasmer) will find a way to last to the final reel and destroy the leprechaun?
If you set a movie in space or on a spaceship you can cheat and get away with quite a lot . . . . . . . . . . or you can make everything look as cheap as possible and clutter corridors with objects that look like abandoned luggage. Trenchard-Smith goes for the latter option, bizarrely enough, and with little else to elevate the movie in the entertainment stakes we’re left with something that feels far too lazy and uncared for.
To be fair, there are a couple of plus points. The acting isn’t TOO bad and there is some amusing banter between Collins and Jasmer. Miguel A. Núñez Jr. is a lot of fun onscreen (horror fans will best remember this man as the one who played Spider in The Return Of The Living Dead) and Tim Colceri isn’t too bad when left to play the stereotypically loud sergeant. There are also some good effects and that must be where the money went. One character is mutated just in time for a big finale and it’s a shame that this creation exists in a vacuum with no atmosphere or visual tricks to highlight the impressive work.
The lows, however, are very low. Most of the characters aren’t worth bothering about, and actually reminded me of “the other crew members” from Red Dwarf, and the film makes a big mistake when it focuses on crazed scientist, Dr. Mittenhand (Guy Siner). Mittenhand is just a terrible and unnecessary extra character to shoehorn in to the proceedings and Siner overacts terribly. While his performance may be intended as some kind of homage to Dr. Strangelove it comes across more as a celebration of the worst acting possible.
Rebekah Carlton makes an attractive princess and Gary Grossman is mildly entertaining as Harold, an assistant to Mittenhand, but I’m really just struggling to find the droplets of good amidst the sea of bad here. Pretty terrible though not unwatchable if you’ve already managed to get through the others.
Leprechaun In The Hood (2000) – Who knew? If space is where a franchise goes to die then, sometimes, “the hood” would seem to be the place for a decent rebirth.
Starting with a great intro that includes Ice-T wearing an afro so big he can hide a baseball bat in it, Leprechaun In The Hood somehow takes all of the goofiness and silliness of the series and makes it . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . work.
The plot sees Postmaster P (Anthony Montgomery) and his boys trying to make it big in the rap scene. They’re not getting anywhere, sadly, because the biggest music name in town (Mac Daddy, played by Ice-T) thinks that their positivity is ridiculous and he wants nothing more than the usual lyrics about guns, drugs and the occasional ho. Thoroughly fed up, and more than a little desperate, the boys break in to Mac Daddy’s house to rob the place. They’re interrupted, bullets fly and the leprechaun is once again brought to life (and, once again, played by Warwick Davis). Postmaster P also grabs a magical flute that the leprechaun really doesn’t want belonging to anyone else.
How long can the boys survive with both an irate leprechaun and an irate Mac Daddy after them?
I know I am going to get a lot of stick for this but, what the hell, Leprechaun In The Hood is the best entry in a series that really didn’t ever have any high standards anyway. It goes along with the same seam of silly humour but adds to it by spoofing the world of “gangsta rap” (kudos to Ice-T for going along with the joke) and also by letting our little green baddie mix it up with a crowd of individuals who let him rap, get him stoned and often try to give as good as they get.
The acting is above-average for the series with Montgomery very good as Postmaster P, Rashaan Nall just fine as Stray Bullet and Red Grant okay as Butch. There’s cross-dressing, fly zombie women, a barmy dream moment and a number of musical numbers. And some weed with clovers mixed in there – fantastic stuff!
Doug Hall is the writer this time, and Rob Spera directs, with the tone of things being handled just right in the way it offsets the ridiculous with the ongoing storyline of the boys wanting to make the big time.
The rap numbers may not please fans but they’re certainly a big improvement over the dull, unmemorable scores of the previous movies, and help to keep the film from flagging.
I’m pretty sure that few will agree with me but I’m used to that by now, I stand by my opinion that this is actually a fun movie and the one Leprechaun movie I wouldn’t mind ever seeing again. In the meantime, enjoy this rap.
Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003) – Oh dear. What worked so well the first time around is undone by a return to the laziness and poor judgment that plagued so many earlier entries in the Leprechaun series.
We’re back to the basic plot device here of someone finding the leprechaun’s gold and using it up before the little fella (Warwick Davis, of course) comes hunting for it. That’s really all there is to say about this one. It takes place, as the title tells you, once again in “the hood” but doesn’t have any of the fun with the hip-hop scene that its predecessor did.
As for the characters, they’re even less memorable than usual. Tangi Miller is okay as Emily, Laz Alonso is okay as Rory, Page Kennedy is okay as Jamie and Sherrie Jackson is okay as Lisa. That covers the main group of nominal goodies. They’re all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . okay.
Nothing else stands out in this movie. No other actors make an impression, none of the death scenes are gross or amusing enough to provide much entertainment and the finale sees the leprechaun pausing to gloat more times than any Bond villain ever has while viewers just sit and wait for the inevitable counter-attack.
I am actually scratching my head at this moment, thinking of something more to say about this film but it’s just far too bland too bother too much about it. It’s below average in almost every way and that’s an even bigger disappointment after the massive leap forward that the series took in the previous movie.
Writer-director Steve Ayromlooi must shoulder most of the blame here because those who have sat through every entry in the series will know what worked in the previous outings and it’s all thrown out of the window here. I can’t even really say I enjoyed any of the usual silliness, there were one or two amusing moments but the movie seemed to forget it was a Leprechaun movie for most of the duration. Now that’s not always a bad thing, for any movie, but when you’re part of an established horror franchise (for better or worse) then you really should make use of the main attraction. Perhaps Warwick Davis will hang up his well-polished boots for now.