Franchise with Me: Leprechaun w/ Ben V.

One of the many horror franchises that didn’t even start out with a decent original film, the Leprechaun series is a cheaply made, creatively bankrupt, extremely problematic and often quite boring rip of the Child’s Play series. With the Chucky movies, you at least get a fleshed out villain that has a clear point of view. Leprechaun’s motives and rules always seem kind of murky. He doesn’t even begin cracking riddles/jokes/rhymes until the second or third installment, and they never explain why he looks like a werewolf demon. I thought Leprechauns were supposed to just be short Irish people with red hair, round glasses and maybe a corn cob pipe.

With all the wisecracks and jokes the series had to offer and his makeup, it’s pretty clear producers were trying to cash in on the residual Freddy Krueger madness. The difference here is that series, for as awful as some of them got towards the end, was always much more inventive in both visuals and storytelling than any Leprechaun installment could ever hope to be. Joining me for this eight film descent into madness is a good friend of mine from high school and a current Arizona public school vice principal – Ben V. Throughout this article all the text in BLUE will represent my writing while the text in RED will represent Ben’s.

Let’s get started with the one that started it all, arguably the worst and without question the most boring entry of the series, Mark Jones‘ 1993 original Leprechaun.

Leprechaun

directed by: Mark Jones ; screenplay by: Mark Jones

starring: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, Mark Holton, Robert Hy Gorman, Shay Duffin, John Sanderford.

runtime: 92 minutes

release date: January 8, 1993

other horror movies released this year: Jason Goes to Hell, Puppet Master 4, Needless Things, Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, The Dark Half, Return of the Living Dead 3, Body Snatchers, Warlock: The Armageddon, Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence, Hocus Pocus, The Good Son, Jurassic Park, Double Double Toil and Trouble.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

The original Leprechaun fails because it takes a ridiculous villain/premise and refuses to run wild with it. This is an exceptionally boring horror movie, with horrible, underwhelming special effects and a leprechaun that doesn’t talk shit. Leprechaun must talk shit, he’s a leprechaun, he’s gotta rhyme some sass to you because that’s what leprechauns do. Not in Mark Jones’ vision apparently. Here, Leprechaun is merely a killer doll, murdering sans punchlines and sporting a weird foot fetish to boot. This is explained as Leprechaun being a shoe cobbler before he was a leprechaun? Or during? Do you get turned into a leprechaun like a vampire? Why doesn’t he have a name? Are all leprechauns named Leprechaun? Is he the only leprechaun? These are questions that needed addressing but unfortunately Jones is not interested in any type of origin story or folklore. He only seems to be interested in four completely uninteresting cookie cutter characters over his star slasher. What a way to totally fumble an indefensibly stupid but potentially lucrative premise.

These four idiots are led by Jennifer Aniston (the best part of the movie), uncommonly good for what the part requires. My guess is producers figured she was the only good thing the movie had going for it so they really tried to amp up the focus on her…poor Warwick Davis. The other character is a really forgettable leading male that as of the time of writing this (only 2 weeks after viewing) I can’t even remember. I remember he sucked, but that’s all. The final characters are a mentally challenged painter played by Pee Wee’s Big Adventure‘s Mark Holton and the wiseass tweenager who takes care of him. Their whole reason for wanting the leprechaun’s gold is so the mentally challenged man can have an operation to fix his brain. FIX. HIS. BRAIN. WHAT. THE. FUCK. That shocking and problematic development is just sprinkled in there, nonchalantly.

All four of these people survive, with Leprechaun only killing two cops and some other lady. I don’t remember anything else about this movie I watched less than fifteen days ago. It’s a total forgettable failure. Ben, what did you think? How unenthused were you that this was the first offering of this franchise and what did that make you fear about things to come?

I’m pretty much in the same boat as you here, Mike: we watched this like 2 weeks ago and I had to read your recap to remember like any of this, minus Jennifer Aniston and her incredibly early-90s shorts. Honestly, if they made those today, I’d demand you bury me in a pair. On the subject of burials, I will be truly surprised if I don’t die of boredom before we’re done with this series, because this movie SUCKED. I suppose this is my own fault for expecting more of a movie that I was only familiar with because it was always on anytime I went to the Suncoast Video at PV Mall with my dad back in the late 90s/early 2000s, when going to the mall was pretty much all you had to look forward to. The writing -if any existed- was beyond clunky, and the biggest waste here was the lack of clearly defining what the Leprechaun could or could not do. Sometimes he had magic, sometimes he didn’t. Sometime he killed, sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes he was… going to chew off your ear… to make shoes… and sometimes he wasn’t?

My biggest issue here, though, was 100% this whole bit with the mentally challenged character. I was honestly tense! The whole time, especially -spoiler alert- after he swallowed a piece of the Leprechaun’s gold, and the Leprechaun made it clear he needed that coin back, I was waiting for a terrible one-liner before the mentally challenged character got eviscerated. I guess maybe in the early 90s we were less concerned with these things? But I have to think that at least someone in the writer’s room cringed at the utterance of “yeah, we kill the slow-learning guy! Brutally!” Like, even though he was played by the asshole bike thief from PeeWee’s Big Adventure, I still didn’t want to see him killed. Truly this film is scariest in its morality, not in any of its execution. And also it ends with the exploded corpse of the Leprechaun somehow still speaking, so you knew that things weren’t going to get any better as we rolled on. Also, you left out the best murder of the whole movie: the antique coin collector, who got pogo-sticked to death. A hilarious little bit in an otherwise forgettable, if not completely regrettable, movie.

Leprechaun 2

directed by: Rodman Flender ; screenplay: Turi Meyer, Al Septien.

starring: Warwick Davis, Charlie Heath, Shevonne Durkin, Kimmy Robertson, Clint Howard, Tony Cox, Jack Klompus

runtime: 85 minutes (shortest entry)

release date: April 8, 1994

other horror movies released this year: Interview with the Vampire, The Crow, In the Mouth of Madness, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Puppet Master 5, Brainscan, Robert DeNiro’s Frankenstein, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Serial Mom, The Pagemaster, Tammy & the T-Rex

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

Leprechaun 2 was the entry I was most excited for because it took place in Los Angeles. Loosely. Leprechaun 2 takes place in LA to the same extent that most would-be Hollywood-types “make it” in Hollywood – that is, they don’t. The movie does a great job of trying to humanize a place that I think most people still, for whatever reason, thing of as Shangri-La: the main character works doing overpriced, cheesy Haunted Hollywood tours. His first clients are Kimmy Robertson of Twin Peaks fame and Clint Howard, of being really ugly fame. Sorry if you read this, Clint. Sorry for everything.

Anyway, the plot of this movie is that the Leprechaun, inexplicably still alive in a tree in Central Park… er, somewhere in Los Angeles with trees… Burbank, maybe?… is going to get married. The movie starts with the Leprechaun back in time with a weird man-slave. He threatens to marry the man-slave’s daughter, the man-slave ruins the Leprechaun’s marriage spell, which involves the daughter sneezing 3 times without anyone saying “God Bless You” (seriously), and then the Leprechaun says he’s going to marry the man-slave’s next-of-kin that’s still alive in 1000 years. Like, why does this dude care? He’s going to be beyond-dead by then.

So then we fast-forward to the present. The next-of-kin is some girl who talks like she’s trying to suppress an Australian accent despite the fact that the actress is from northern California. She’s dating the Haunted Hollywood tour guide, who is kind of a total whiner the whole time despite dating way out of his league. The Leprechaun makes his way to Hollywood, bites off a producer’s finger, and then kidnaps the girl. Before this, however, the Leprechaun uses his magic to make a free-standing lawnmower look like the girl so that some dude, who runs the only go-kart track in Los Angeles who was trying to bang this chick behind the whiny Haunted Hollywood guy’s back, tries to feel her up and then he gets his face completely carved off. Hilarious bit!

Anyway, the rest of the movie is super cookie-cutter: the whiny boyfriend hunts the Leprechaun through Hollywood, finds his evil tree lair, and then hunts the Leprechaun down and kills him with a wrought iron spear. If you didn’t know, like we didn’t, because it isn’t a thing, Leprechauns are allergic to wrought iron. It causes them to die. While this movie started out by establishing some ground rules, and did a great job of setting the film in the seedy, real-life version of Hollywood that anyone who’s been there drunk at 3 am on a Thursday night (me) has seen, the whole thing fell relatively flat again. Hollywood didn’t play enough of a role, only one producer got harmed (not even killed… like… give the people what they want!), and the end of the movie wrapped up in a way that felt like everyone involved had gotten bored 45 minutes into the thing and decided, fuck it, let’s just end this however. I cannot believe we’re only a quarter of the way through these things. I hate you so fucking much for making me do this.

Well, I love you, Ben, and I’m happy we’re taking this journey into shitsville together. You’re right, this movie is very cookie-cutter but it’s quite an improvement over the dullness of the original. Here, Warwick Davis is able to be more animated and funny, and the death sequences are vastly superior to the original. Finally, there’s some cleverness (emphasis on “some”) in the death sequences, most notably, as you mentioned, tricking Go-Kart Romeo into french kissing a running lawnmower.

I also loved the movie producer part, where this would-be Harvey Weinstein gives Leprechaun his card to get him some work in showbiz. Leprechaun squanders this opportunity by viciously biting his finger off, but I thought this is where the story was going to go. I want to see the movie where Leprechaun is stuck at open casting calls all day, only to get beat out for a Lucky Charms commercial by Verne Troyer. I wanted to see how this mystical creature handled rejection on such a large platform and how all the insecurity and self-doubt led him to self-medicating with cocaine and other substances at sad Hollywood Hills parties. I wanted to see Leprechaun sitting alone at Silverlake Ramen, seeking solace in a warm bowl of Tonkotsu, while scrolling through phone pictures of his life back in Ireland and finally making the decision that, despite his best efforts to make it big, it’s time to head on home to mom. Instead, we got a rapey wife subplot and Seinfeld‘s Jack Klompus.

Leprechaun 3

directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith ; screenplay by: David Dubois

starring: Warwick Davis, John Gatins, Lee Armstong, Caroline Williams, John DeMita, Michael Callen, Tom Dugan, Terry Lee Crisp as Elvis

runtime: 94 minutes

release date: June 27, 1995 (Straight to VHS)

other horror movies released this year: Vampire in Brooklyn, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, Species, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight, Tales From the Hood, Castle Freak, Screamers, Ice Cream Man, Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh, Howling: New Moon Rising, The Addiction, Faces of Death V

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

Finally. After two films of meandering the fuck about, Leprechaun finally lives up to the ridiculousness of its premise. Leprechaun 3 is lovingly set in what should have been the location for the original – Sin City itself, Las Vegas. Leprechaun, as played by Warwick Davis, is a short, scuzzy, money-grubbing, toxic-ass prick with an arsenal of dad jokes — he’ll fit right in!

Much like every other installment, this centers around two extremely forgettable protagonists, a guy and a girl. She’s a Vegas waitress, he’s her nerd boyfriend. They cross paths with the Leprechaun after he is accidentally revived in a pawn shop owned by an Argentinian actor playing an Indian store clerk named Gupta. “Thank you, come again!” chirps Gupta, after a mystery person drops off the Leprechaun, frozen in carbonite. Gupta thinks it’s just a statue, but to his surprise, Leprechaun sprouts to murderous life after the gold medallion around his neck is removed. Culturally insensitive antics ensue, and Gupta gets killed before the protagonist dude comes in, finds the gold and makes a wish he’s winning jackpots at the casino. He’s then transported to the casino his girlfriend works at, where he’s magically winning at craps. The casino owner is pissed and tries to take it out on the girlfriend both professionally and sexually. God help us.

What ensues is a series of the most creative and ridiculous kills of the entire franchise including a woman in a Vegas Escort infomercial (but really Leprechaun) climbing out of a hotel tv and fucking the casino owner to death while turning into a robot, as well as Leprechaun making a woman’s ass, breasts and lips blow up like a Macy’s Day Parade float and then explode into red chunks of shit. It’s wild, it’s problematic and it’s not even good — just more compulsively watchable than what we got before. There’s also a good device for the kills – characters keep stealing the stolen Leprechaun gold from each other which leads Leprechaun right to them because can track his gold like GPS.

For me, this is the closest thing to what I expect from a franchise called Leprechaun. Stupid jokes, insane kills and even an Elvis impersonator. It’s not good, it’s not thought-provoking, it really shouldn’t even exist. But since I have to watch eight of these, encountering one that goes down this easy is a god send. Ben, what did you think?

Well, Mike, I feel like this was what I was promised the entire time! This was the first Leprechaun movie to say “fuck it, let’s have some fun!” and then really just roll with it! Granted, yeah, there are A LOT of problematic elements, but also, there was a lot of story building by way of ancient CD-ROM. Like, this is the first installment that laid out some ground rules. It also introduced the idea of making a wish if you had a piece of the Leprechaun’s gold, which was a fun morality litmus-test for character deaths!

Speaking of, as you said, these deaths were MONEY. The robot-lady fucking-to-death? A hilarious move that was on-par with the lawn-mower French kiss. The woman whose ass, tits, and lips all exploded at the same time?! GENIUS. Also, the Leprechaun spoke almost exclusively in limericks, all of which were dirty AND rhymed. My god. This movie was a blessing after the first 2 installments, the rare trilogy-piece that makes you almost forget the first 2 movies.

I am truly remiss over the fact that you forgot about the line “penis au gratin,” a line that we both died laughing over and that I don’t remember you recovering from for the entirety of the movie. Also, I am truly thrilled, after the letdown in Los Angeles, that they embraced Las Vegas. This movie is set in absolutely the seediest Las Vegas casino, but it’s one that feels EXACTLY like The Strat does today. No offense to the nice people running that place, but holy shit did it feel unsafe, and I rode a rollercoaster on the roof! This movie had a shitty Elvis impersonator, a shitty magic act, and a shitty hotel security staff, all of which are things you’ll still encounter in Vegas today! Really the only weird part of this movie was that the Leprechaun was aware of and somewhat obsessed with Elvis. Like, does the Leprechaun have access to American pop-culture between his spawnings? Does he just roam around until it’s time to kill on-camera again? Who knows, and I didn’t question it in the moment, because this installment was the first one where I wasn’t bored enough to think while watching!

Leprechaun 4: In Space

directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith ; screenplay by: Dennis Pratt

starring: Warwick Davis, Rebekah Carlton, Brent Jasmer, Jessica Collins, Guy Siner, Gary Grossman, Tim Colceri, Miguel A. Nunez, Jr.

runtime: 95 minutes (longest entry)

release date: February 25, 1997 (Straight to VHS)

other horror movies released this year: Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Event Horizon, Mimic, Cube, Wishmaster, An American Werewolf in Paris, Anaconda, Alien: Resurrection, Vampire Journals, Trucks, Funny Games, Perfect Blue, Spirit Lost

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

I think it’s absolutely brilliant that Leprechaun 4: In Space and Starship Troopers came out in the same year, because if you held them up, side-by-side, and looked at them, you’d think one was from a different century despite the fact that they both start so similarly. You kind of knew how bad this movie was going to be from the opening scene, where a CGI “spaceship” that looked more like a poorly rendered robot dong sails along in front of a background that would’ve looked bad on a computer running Windows 95. Also, the movie is called “Leprechaun 4: In Space.” Not Leprechaun in Space, or Leprech4un in Sp4ce, both of which seem like real missed opportunities. If you can’t even get your title right, there’s really nowhere left to fall but down.

Speaking of missed opportunities, this movie really screws the pooch on what could’ve been a brilliant tight-spaces thriller, and instead opts for full-blown-camp hoke. We follow a group of space marines, including a semi-butch female trooper (equality!), and a “hot” doctor. We know she’s hot because everyone catcalls and tries to grope her whenever she’s on-screen. Yikes. Anyway, the marines are headed to some mining planet where an alien keeps killing all the miners who are harvesting the planet’s gold. Can you guess what the alien is? THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S THE LEPRECHAUN! He’s holding a space-princess hostage. I cannot remember if she’s important to the mining or not. It really doesn’t matter. The marines blow up the Leprechaun and save the princess in the first 5 minutes of the movie. “Thank God, it’s over!” I rejoiced from my couch. Just kidding, there’s still 85 minutes to go!

The crew returns to the ship and… like, look, it’s not even worth getting into. I know I have a job here, but holy shit, I’m just one man and this was a hard slog. There’s a doctor on the ship who’s like 65% robot, which was almost cool looking, but he spoke with a terrible German (…?) accent the whole time and always made a face that was so cringy it made me physically angry, and later he gets mutated into a GWAR character. The space princess is later forced to go topless in a scene that makes so little sense another character has to explain why she took her top off. I’ve never seen nudity so gratuitous before. The Leprechaun is brought back to life because one of the marines accidentally swallowed some of his blood -gross- and the Leprechaun reformed inside the marine, then kicked his way out of the marine through his dick. I’ll admit, that last bit was somewhat rewarding. You knew it was coming (zing) and it almost paid off. All of this stuff sounds really “great,” but please realize you have to slog through 85 minutes of movie for any of this.

This was definitely the biggest missed opportunity of the franchise. The whole thing is just completely over-the-top, and not in a fun way. It’s like when you know someone is making up a story as they go along: it’s fun for the first embellishment, but the 15th is too much. Things were constantly happening in this movie and I was bored the entire time. Plus the Leprechaun was more like a Frank Reynolds impersonator than the Leprechaun we’ve grown to know and love thus far, and that made it even worse. He spends most of his dialogue having real Honeymooners arguments with the Space Princess, who is in love with him despite how abusive he is towards her the whole time. He gets blasted out of an airlock after growing 6 stories tall, with CGI so grainy you almost wonder if they made this movie using child labor somewhere.

Mike, what do you remember of this installment? Because I’ve been bashing my head with the Blu-Ray box ever since we watched it to get the images out of there.

It’s funny because, reading your description of this, you almost make it sound like it’s a fun bad watch, but it’s just a bad bad watch. The insane sequences you mentioned make up probably a combined total of 4 minutes of the runtime, so you’re left with painfully dull space garbage for the other 160 minutes. I think the easiest way for me to tackle this one is just list out the different qualities of a good movie and explain how Leprechaun 4: In Space differs.

Well written with three-dimensional characters and toothsome dialogue:

Considering I didn’t know what the hell was actually happening 95% of the time I’d say it’s not particularly well written. Given that I can’t remember most of these characters and could barely differentiate them while I was watching the movie, leads me to believe they are one dimensional at best. I’d say the dialogue is quite toothsome in the way a mouthful of broken glass is. The whole thing feels like it was written in a frat house on a crusty Toshiba playbook shared between six date rapists. The jokes are terribly constructed and revealingly misogynistic, the motives seemingly non-existent. The mad scientist character seems to be a cheap imitation of Dr. Strangelove that one of the frat bros remembered from his elective film class and the drill sergeant seems to be a played up version of their sexually frustrated lacrosse coach.

Well acted with honest portrayals that feel natural to the material:

Acting or all art for that matter is extremely subjective. Here, it’s extremely objective, objectively terrible that is. Yes, I just turned into Gordon Ramsay for this segment. Where’s the emotion, you donkeys?! You stupid pissers! That’s not how a human being would react to that ya daft twat, yer! Honest portrayal? Honest portrayal, FUCK YOU! I’m HONESTly thinking of eliminating everyone from Hell’s Kitchen: Leprechaun 4: In Space Acting and sending you all home packing if you DON’T GET IT TOGETHER! WAKE UP!

However, (back to Michael Margetis and not Gordon Ramsay now), as awful as the acting is it does in fact feel natural to the material. Because the material—(back to Gordon Ramsay now)–is A BIG FAT LOAD OF FUCKING YANKIE DANKIE DOODLE SHITE! YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU – FUCK OFF BACK TO THE DORMS!

Well produced with creative and interesting visual effects, executed to perfection.

It looks like a bad film school project, ambitious in its ideas but unable to see them even a quarter of the way through. Everything looks like it came fresh from the Halloween section at Savers. Combined with all the awful writing and acting, it at least seems on brand.

4 has to be the worst entry of the franchise I thought to myself, while pressing play on Leprechaun in the Hood

Leprechaun in the Hood

directed by: Rob Spera ; screenplay by: Doug Hall, Jon Huffman

starring: Warwick Davis, Ice-T, Coolio, Anthony Montgomery, Rashaan Nall, Red Grant, Dan Martin, Lobo Sebastian, Ivory Ocean, Barima McKnight, Jack Ong, Eric Mansker, Steven M. Porter.

runtime: 90 minutes

release date: March 28, 2000 (Straight to VHS)

other horror movies released this year: Scream 3, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000, Ginger Snaps, American Psycho, What Lies Beneath, Final Destination, Hollow Man, Hellraiser 5: Inferno, The Watcher, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Bless the Child, The Crow: Salvation

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

Wow, I thought Leprechaun 4: In Space was absolutely going to be the worst this series had to offer but then this came along. An indie horror film that looks like it was made with a Covid relief check by a small local film industry, Leprechaun in the Hood begins with Ice-T’s Mack Daddy O’Nasses in the shittiest afro wig Party City had available for rental, complete with platform shoes, bell bottoms and I’m pretty sure pajamas of some kind. He’s wielding a firearm and cursing, trying to rob some house that has Leprechaun’s loot in it. He accidentally awakens Leprechaun by removing his necklace and what ensues is a shitty fight scene where his partner falls through a brick wall that crumbles, revealing it’s actually made out of foam. It’s a real “fire your art department” moment. Mack Daddy O’Nasses somehow gets the necklace back on Leprechaun, so Leprechaun is frozen in time, and with the stolen loot, Mack Daddy starts a record label. Man, the 70s sure were crazy.

Flash forward to the year 2000, three aspiring rappers (two? one is just a hype man) are having a rough go of it. One, Postmaster P, has found God and preaches doing the right thing, but still tries to scam pawn shop owners with a Jimi Hendrix guitar signed and dated a year after he died. The other, Stray Bullet, is more about getting paid and comic relief hype man Butch seems to be more about just getting lunch. A real three stooges type of set up that goes awry quickly when they steal a bunch of money and gold from Ice-T, including a gold flute that makes people agree/like you when you play it. This is revealed to be the reason why Ice-T has a career. Besides having a magical flute that makes youth pastors enjoy your company, they also incur the wrath of Leprechaun, desperate to get his flute and the gold back.

Leprechaun proceeds to kill everyone in wildly uncreative ways (is #3 the only installment where kills are creative and fun?!) Leprechaun reveals in one scene that he can magically make people’s chests explode, so why not kill them all in one fell swoop? Much like the rest of the series, this installment makes little to no sense, especially when Leprechaun performs a 2 minute rap at the end that club goers are super into. That’s another thing, this one has the most ridiculous soundtrack, many of the tracks are original and diagetic within the film. The three stooge rappers improvise a terrible rap that samples Jesus Loves Me with a parable about fucking hoes. I’m sure this sounds glorious on vinyl. If anyone can locate the vinyl of this soundtrack, I’ll let them buy it for me.

There’s also a heaping scoop of transphobia mixed into the narrative that I found both problematic and lazy. They are friends(?) with a trans woman and by friends I mean they let her hang out while ridiculing her every chance they get. Of course, she’s also a prostitute and trying to get her ding dong game on. When she encounters Leprechaun, she tries to fuck him to which Leprechaun replies he’s “not in the mood for fruit.” Leprechaun later murders her while she’s trying to bang him. It breaks my heart to think there were probably kids terrified of coming out in the early 2000s at least in part because of this stupid fucking movie and it’s “I’m not gay, you’re gay” homophobic school yard antics.

For me, this is the worst one so far, even worse than Leprechaun 4: In Space. The story might be more competent, but this one is just tasteless and offensive around every corner. I absolutely hated it. Ben, what did you think?

Yeah, holy shit, the underlying theme of this franchise seems to be “Punching Down,” which is also a height joke, so I guess I could have written one of these. The transphobia of this one really soured the rest of it for me. Like, if we had stopped watching after that whole scene, I’d have been totally okay with it. After the trans character dies, the 3 stooges use her lube, a douche, and a heating pad to set the Leprechaun on fire. They then leave her presumably still-burning apartment and never mention her again. Like, no clearer sign that they were only using the trans character for cheap laughs (although literally nothing funny happens here) than that.

The rest of this movie is such a tonally imbalanced mess that it’s tough to tell what the point of making it even was. The Leprechaun in this one only uses “urban” slang and has the ability to possess an army of women, who only serve to… bring him more women to possess? Like what was the point of that? On the subject of pointless, we also get a really bizarre cameo by Coolio, who shows up and HAS NO LINES, which means they didn’t have to pay him as much.

“Hey boss, we have the cash for Coolio.” “Great! I bet he could come in and say something like-” “Naw, we just have the money for Coolio… to appear.” “Ah, okay, yeah, put him in the scene at the gospel church taking place in an old office set that we won’t even bother to try and dress up as a church.” “Cool, got it!”

I think this is the first installment of this franchise I actively hate. The whole movie takes place within this real morality-complex, in which Postmaster P transforms from God-fearing positivity-wrapper to cold-blooded survivalist, and we never get a real exploration of that change. I know, I know, asking for depth? From the Leprechaun franchise? I might as well be asking Joe Biden for my next stimulus check, but like, why did you include this angle if you weren’t going to get into it? Plus having an angle this quasi-deep only flattens the rest of the movie. The jokes are bad, the Leprechaun’s use of slang and pop-culture references feels cheesy at best, racist at worst, and the ending is an awful self-referential rap video starring the Leprechaun that I think is 100% grounds for Warwick Davis to get cancelled. For a franchise built on low-hanging fruit, this movie is just stomping the shit that’s already fallen on the ground.

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood

directed by: Steven Ayromlooi ; screenplay by: Steven Ayromlooi

starring: Warwick Davis, Tangi Miller, Laz Alonso, Page Kennedy, Sherrie Jackson, Donzaleigh Abernathy, Shiek Mahmud-Bay, Sticky Fingaz, Keesha Sharp, Sonya Eddy, Beau Billingslea, Chris Murray, Vickilyn Reynolds, Willie C. Carpenter

runtime: 90 minutes

release date: December 30, 2003 (Straight to VHS)

other horror movies released this year: Freddy vs. Jason, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Identity, Wrong Turn, Gothika, Underworld, House of 1000 Corpses, Final Destination 2, Jeepers Creepers 2, High Tension, Dracula II: Ascension, Beyond Re-Animator, Willard, House of the Dead

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

There are some blessings in life that you can’t chalk up to anything other than serendipity. For me, that blessing was drawing the long straw on getting to do the Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood write-up, because this movie… dare I say it?… is… actually… great?

The movie starts with a little animated sequence that actually gives us the Leprechaun’s backstory. It also gives us his real name, but it’s a real Baby-Yoda/Grogu moment in that you’re just going to keep calling him Leprechaun. Anyway, hard cut to a scene where a priest kills the Leprechaun by cursing him back to Hell. For some reason they’re fighting on the grounds of a rec center that’s under construction. This part is really not important, except to set up that the Leprechaun is dead to start off with. Dead and in Hell. Wow.

Later, at the rec center, still under construction, our main characters meet up for a cookout. Why that has to happen at the as-of-yet built rec center is besides the point and, probably more key here, never explained. Our cast is: Emily, a spurned girlfriend, Lisa, the female comic relief, Jamie, stoner and male comic relief, and Rory, Emily’s crappy ex-boyfriend turned drug dealer. Emily falls through a piece of plywood and into the remnants of where the priest sent the Leprechaun to Hell. She emerges from her fall unscathed and, better yet, with a chest full of gold. In a great turn for this franchise, the characters all use their newfound wealth for good! Except, just before finding the chest, a fortuneteller told Emily she’d soon come into riches, but she shouldn’t touch them. You can guess why.

At a party that Jamie is throwing for the whole block with his newfound wealth, the Leprechaun shows up. He gets high, kills a guy with a bong, and then eats a sandwich in what may be the most satisfying sequence in any of the films. Absolutely hilarious stuff. The party gets busted up and Jamie gets arrested for having a literal garbage bag of weed on the premises. “My grandma’s Italian, she loves her oregano!” Jamie shouts as he’s put into the squad car. Another solid bit.

Anyway, the movie starts to follow the same formula as usual: Leprechaun wants his gold, starts killing, etc. In a particularly effective scene, Leprechaun kills Lisa to send a message to the other 3 that he’s not fucking around this time. Leprechaun pursues the other 3. Leprechaun kills 2 cops and steals a cop car. The cop killing scene is particularly goofy, in that the Leprechaun cuts one of the cop’s legs off and then uses it to reach the pedals so he can steal their cop car, but this is also semi-brilliant. I literally made a “he can’t reach the pedals joke” just before he went back for the leg, so it’s almost like there’s some thought in this movie. Leprechaun chases the other 3 to the hideout of Rory’s on-off gang affiliates, who are also trying to kill Rory and friends for some gang-related reason. Leprechaun gets to the fight, kills all the gang members, and our main characters escape to Act 3.

The ending starts to slog a bit. The 3 remaining friends know they have to use a 4-leaf clover to kill the Leprechaun, so they pull some out of a bag of weed (seriously) and rub them all over a bunch of hollow-point bullets (double seriously). The fortuneteller returns and blasts the Leprechaun with magic because she’s actually a witch (triple seriously), but the Leprechaun kills her with mind control (okay, you know what, maybe this movie isn’t great, but it’s my review, so fuck you). Rory shoots the Leprechaun 3 times on 3 separate occasions, each time causing little golden bubbles to appear around the Leprechaun to let us know his soul…? his powers…? uhhh, that his “something” is running out. Kind of like when you’d hit an enemy in Sonic the Hedgehog, the Leprechaun starts losing all his coins, but Rory never hits him with that ever-elusive final-bullet. Instead, Emily pushes the Leprechaun off the roof and into some inexplicably wet and soupy cement, and we get what feels like a 5 minute sequence of Warwick Davis, in full costume, thrashing around and slowly sinking, in what is definitely grounds for like the 5th worksite lawsuit at this never-to-be-finished rec center. It’s also a great “I’ll be back” setup for a sequel we’ll unfortunately never get. The actual end of the movie is some weird shot of Rory and Emily on a motorcycle riding up to a basketball court to give Jamie a far-off head-nod, then the credits roll. An unfortunate failure to stick the landing, but holy moly, this felt like an actual horror film! Mike, could we be so lucky?! You know what they say: 6th time’s the charm!

It felt like an actual movie, a good movie. This can’t be! While Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood certainly doesn’t re-invent the wheel, it delivers on the promise of its premise quite well. It’s a fun, dumb horror comedy that never takes itself too seriously. Only took them six entries to figure it out.

I think the best move filmmaker Steven Ayromloii makes here is taking 15 or 20 minutes up top to establish the film’s characters before the Leprekilling begins! They aren’t phenomenal, three dimensional characters but they are a very strong two dimensional, uncommon for most horror movies, even rarer for straight to VHS horror movies. While none of the kills rival the absurd heights of Leprechaun 3, you get a lot of comedically satisfying set pieces.

In one scene, Leprechaun accidentally gets stoned at a house party but instead of hunting for his gold, he decides sneaking a sandwich from the kitchen is his most important move. Stumbling around blazed out of his mind, giggling, he attempts to pilfer a jar of dill pickles from the counter and when that doesn’t work out, he locks himself in the fridge with a bong. He’s chilling, literally, with a bunch of shelves full of munchies to his left. Although it might sound stupid to say, for a moment he’s not the one-note “I want my gold, blah-blah-blah” little killing machine. He’s just a high-ass fool trying to get his sandwich on. We all can relate.

Even if the movie just sort of stops instead of ending (Methinks they ran out of gold!), most everything leading up to that point is of a higher quality than we’re used to. Sure, the movie is obviously shot a very low budget and it has that Early 2000s DIY visual quality, but the characters are interesting, the kills are solid if not wildly creative and scattered throughout the screenplay are jokes that actually work beyond the “oh god, that’s so terrible it’s funny.” It’s not quite The Exorcist, but it’s better than it has any business being. How interesting they decided to halt the series for eleven years after this. You’d think this entry would usher in a sub series of “In the Hood Leprechaun” movies within the Leprechaun franchise. Thank God for that, I don’t think they would have been able to make two good Leprechaun movies in a row. Much like the movie, my review is just going to stop.

Leprechaun: Origins

directed by: Zach Lipovsky ; screenplay by: Harris Wilkinson

starring: Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl, Stephanie Bennett, Teach Grant, Bruce Blain, Adam Boys, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh, Brendan Fletcher, Garry Chalk

runtime: 90 minutes

release date: August 22, 2014 (select theaters) ; August 26, 2014 (VOD)

other horror movies released this year: The Babadook, It Follows, Annabelle, Ouija, Creep, Wrong Turn 6, Goodnight Mommy, Tusk, Unfriended, As Above So Below, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, The Woman in Black 2, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, What We Do in the Shadows, The Voices

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

After the best entry inevitably came the worst – Leprechaun: Origins, a bizarre non-origin story about a small cave demon terrorizing college students vacationing in Ireland. In this Leprechaun movie there are no jokes, no puns, no imaginative kills and most importantly, no fun. It’s puzzling to me why a series that has had its success in the horror comedy arena switch gears for something attempting to be legitimately scary. I guess that’s what happens when WWF buys your movie franchise.

Replacing Warwick Davis is little person wrestler Hornswoggle, but honestly, given the amount of screen time the creature gets, it just as well could have been played by a stunt man. The design of this creature is goofy and the filmmakers must know this, because they shoot it only in extreme darkness and quick glimpses. For god sakes, the shark in Jaws had more screen time than this special effects abomination. The creature looks like a rejected design from Neil Marshall’s The Descent, a bald, horned, grey-skinned demon that couldn’t elicit fear on the Disney Original Movie circuit.

The non-demon characters are somehow less interesting. The college students consist of the smart final girl, the nice boyfriend, the girl that loves sex and her dumb boyfriend. They all play their archetypes with performances that range from barely passable to eye-rollingly awful. The Irish townspeople aren’t much better. Basically, Leprechaun: Origins is a rip-off of An American Werewolf in London, where everyone who lives in this small Irish town knows about this creature but don’t care it’s killing college students because at least it’s not killing them. They take it a step further here by actively trying to sacrifice the college students up to the “leprechaun” so they can go about their days churning butter and watching soccer, without the fear that a Spirit Halloween Store decoration will murder them.

This is a wildly incompetent film and while it does look like more money went into it than some of the entries, it proves that this series works best with some fucking laughs. Where’s the funny, Ben? I can’t find it here.

I think the only time I laughed during this movie was when the Leprechaun monster used the girl-that-loves-sex as a decoy, so the smart girl accidentally put an axe through her head instead of the Leprechaun monster’s head. It was a scene that I know got a visceral groan out of you, but that was legitimately the only clever thing about this movie.

On the subject of not-clever, I don’t understand why WWE did this. At all. As a recovering pro wrestling fan, I remember when Hornswoggle was introduced. There was a brawnier Irish character who only went by Finlay, and Hornswoggle was his accomplice who dressed like a leprechaun, never spoke, and helped Finlay steal wins on a fairly routine basis. Hornswoggle was a hilariously bad concept that WWE double- and tripled-down on. He did not test well, he got terrible crowd and internet reaction, and Vince McMahon was like, “fuck it, full steam ahead, make ’em choke on the little bastard” until we all accepted that nothing was going to happen. There was a match where Hornswoggle wrestled a little-person Easter bunny. It was awful television that really made you reflect on your choices as a viewer and consumer. And then they made this movie and now I feel worse.

If you’re going to use your leprechaun-gimmick pro wrestler as the villain, why not just commit to the pre-established bit? I think Hornswoggle stepping into the Warwick Davis role could have worked, and the big reveal of this movie being that the creature was just a darker, more elusive version of Warwick’s Leprechaun would’ve been hilarious. Just think, the doomed teens thing they’re being stalked by some kind of wild boar or ancient Irish cursed creature, then we get a cheesy one-liner and a reveal of that hilariously bad little costume. It could’ve made for a huge laugh. Instead, they opted to run something that even Knott’s Scary Farm, the Walmart of haunted theme parks, would have thrown into the trash. I don’t even want to consider this film part of the franchise. At least I can rest well knowing it can’t get worse.

Leprechaun Returns

directed by: Steven Kostanski ; written by: Suzanne Keilly

starring: Linden Porco, Taylor Spreitler, Pepi Sonuga, Sai Bennet, Mark Holton, Emily Reid, Ben McGregor, Oliler Llewellyn

runtime: 92 minutes

release date: December 11, 2018 (VOD) ; March 17, 2019 (SyFy Channel Premiere)

other horror movies released this year: Halloween, Hereditary, Climax, The House that Jack Built, Mandy, Suspiria, Insidious: The Last Key, A Quiet Place, Annihilation, The Cloverfield Paradox, Truth or Dare?, Unfriended: Dark Web, The Nun, High Life, Summer of 84, Winchester, Slendar Man, Unsane

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ben

Well I’ll be dipped in green-tinted shit, it got worse! Leprechaun Returns retcons the entire franchise. That’s right, Leprechaun Returns is a direct sequel to Leprechaun, set 25 years in the future. We know it’s 25 years later because almost every character at some point states that it’s been 25 years since the first time the Leprechaun arrived, despite most of the cast being under 25. Like, how would they know? Oh, because the main character is supposed to be Jennifer Aniston’s character’s daughter. Neat! Except Jennifer Aniston’s character is dead. And not only is she dead, but everyone thought she was crazy because she was always talking about the Leprechaun. Except she never told her daughter about the Leprechaun, despite her daughter being the one telling her sorority sisters about the Leprechaun. Confused yet? Because I sure was. And we’re just getting started here!

This movie, like pretty much all the others, just sucks. It feels like it was written by those brothers who did all those parody movies in the mid- to late-2000s, the ones with all the terrible pop culture references that, if you watched them now, you’d spend more time explaining the reference than why it was supposed to be funny. There’s a part where a character doesn’t know what a Walkman is but later makes a reference to the filmography of Werner Herzog. Not knowing what a Walkman is but having knowledge of the director of Heart of Glass? I don’t think so.

The characters are all awful. Jennifer Aniston’s character’s daughter is somehow telepathic with ghosts. Well, just one ghost: the ghost of the guy from PeeWee’s Big Adventure, who is in this movie long enough to give the girl a ride to the house from the bus depot, say it’s been 25 years since the first movie, and then get killed from the inside-out like I was afraid he was going to in the first film. That’s right, where the original movie had some tact, this one kills the special needs guy, so you know EXACTLY what you’re getting into. There’s also a horny teenage couple, the female-half of whom only speaks in exposition, there’s the sorority house leader who only talks in eco-friendly terminology, there’s the slutty drunk friend, and then there’s a dude who is constantly filming things and looks like he’s 20 years older than everyone else. It’s… unsettling.

The Leprechaun is played this time around by Linden Porco, a Canadian, who sounds the whole time like he’s playing a Jewish Brooklyn uncle doing a bad Mexican accent. Most of his lines are indecipherable or, if they are decipherable, are lame sex puns. At one point the Leprechaun makes the slutty friend spit her beer up and then proclaims, “aye, I love a golden shower!” It’s 2021, I’m not here to kink shame, but… woof. Later the Leprechaun is temporarily decapitated and then says “aye, ye give great head!” Which isn’t even a good joke, because she took his head, she didn’t give it back. At least get the joke right.

The movie goes as expected: Leprechaun shows up, wants his gold, kills whoever he needs to to get it back. The weird part here is that the Leprechaun wants his gold to get his powers back, as per usual, but he also states -repeatedly I should add- that he can also regain his powers from killing. So like… why not… just spitballing here… keep killing? Which was about the only good part of this movie. The kills are pretty great: a guy gets chopped in half by a solar panel; a girl gets turned into a living sprinkler; a drone cuts a guy’s head off in a bit that was exactly the same as the Austin Power‘s steamroller shtick but even funnier here for some reason. Why do you need your gold when you’re the Elon Musk of murder: not the best to ever do it, but maybe the most entertaining?

In a small gesture of wokeness, the film allows the black character to survive, but not without getting absolutely impaled by a piece of shrapnel in the last 2 minutes for literally no reason. She and the white lead are hiding in the same place when the house explodes -spoilers, I guess- and only the black girl gets hit. Kind of suspect. The movie ends with the Leprechaun, again somehow not dead despite everyone doing exactly what the lore told them to do to kill him, hitching a ride to town on the back of a chicken-coop hauler while doing an “aw shucks!” thing. The Leprechaun in this movie was the third worst version of the Leprechaun (the first-worst being the one from In The Hood that rapped and the second being the mutant dog-monster from Leprechaun Origins, and I stand by this empirical ranking) and we don’t feel anything for him. He’s not endearing. He’s not particularly funny. In this movie, the Leprechaun is just kind of annoying, so we feel absolutely nothing for him in this weird little “foiled again!” beat. It would be like seeing an episode of Looney Tunes where Coyote finally catches Roadrunner and, after eating him, looks to us for compassion. Like, sorry moron, it’s not my fault you got what you wanted, and I wish you had lost.

The scariest part of this movie was when it was over on Amazon and the next suggested movie to watch was a 2021 release called like, Leprechaun Stories or something, and I thought we had to watch yet another one of these. Mike, I’ve been off the deep end here for a minute, please, take us out. For good.

This entry was so bland and this article is running so long, so I’m going to keep this to a single paragraph. Leprechaun Returns is better than Leprechaun: Origins simply because it’s actually a Leprechaun movie. We don’t get Warwick Davis, we get a terrible understudy who’s practically indecipherable in Linden Porco. We get a few feeble attempts at humor but we also get way more darkness than a Leprechaun movie should ever have. There’s a mean streak running through Leprechaun Returns that just doesn’t make any sense, not this late in the franchise anyway. The kills are somewhat inspired but have a flavor of cruelty that doesn’t fit the film well. The acting is better than most of these entries but the decision to include Pee Wee’s arch nemesis Mark Holton’s character from the original, only to have him to get violently murdered and his ghost be a punchline seems upsetting. Also, the decision to kill off Jennifer Aniston with cancer off-screen was off-putting. But what isn’t off-putting or upsetting is that, Ben V., you predicted that Leprechaun would retrieve the gold Mark Holton swallowed. Took them eight entries and twenty-five years, but it finally happened.

Now that we’re done with Leprechaun, I’m gonna go shower.

FINAL RANKINGS:

  1. Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood (6.5/10)
  2. Leprechaun 3 (5/10)
  3. Leprechaun 2 (3/10)
  4. Leprechaun Returns (3/10)
  5. Leprechaun (2/10)
  6. Leprechaun 4: In Space (1/10)
  7. Leprechaun in the Hood (1/10)
  8. Leprechaun: Origins (0/10)
  • – Michael Margetis

1.) Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood (6/10)
2.) Leprechaun 3 (5.9/10)
3.) Leprechaun (4/10)
4.) Leprechaun 2 (3.9/10)
5.) Leprechaun Returns (3/10)
6.) Leprechaun in the Hood (2.75/10)
t-8.) Leprechaun: Origins (1/10)
t-8.) Leprechaun 4: In Space (1/10)

Ben V.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: