Leprechaun, the quirky horror-comedy starring Warwick Davis, was released in 1993. According to IMDB, Leprechaun cost an estimated $900,000 and grossed $8,556,940. It also inspired five sequels and a prequel. The latest film in the series, Leprechaun: Returns was released in 2018. With the Leprechaun series seemingly at an end (for now) the best purchase value is Leprechaun: The Complete Movie Collection (Blu-Ray and Digital HD), which includes the first seven movies of the series. The eighth entry, Leprechaun Returns, can be purchased separately.
The premise of Leprechaun is simple enough. In the opening scene we learn that Dan O’Grady had caught the Leprechaun, in Ireland presumably, and forced the Leprechaun to lead him to his pot of gold. The Leprechaun follows O’Grady back to his farmhouse in North Dakota and then attacks him to get his gold back. O’Grady barely escapes with his life, but he manages to trap the Leprechaun in a shipping crate. To guarantee that the Leprechaun doesn’t escape he places a four-leaf clover on top of the box, which according to some legends is the being’s weakness.
Skip ahead, 10 years later the farmhouse has been sold to J.D. Reding. His daughter Tory Reding (Jennifer Aniston) is visiting from Los Angeles. She hates the country but is presumably there to help her father clean the farmhouse and make it ready to live in. The two have hired a local outfit, Three Guys Who Paint, to paint the house. The crew consists of hunky Nathan Murphy, Alex and Ozzie. Alex is a young boy of maybe 10 years. Ozzie is an adult who is shall we say, “touched”, not the brightest bulb.
To sum up, the Leprechaun is let out of its shipping container by Ozzie and immediately wants his gold back. Then, Ozzie and Alex follow a magical rainbow and find the Leprechaun’s gold hidden in a rusty old car. Ozzie accidentally swallows one of the 100 gold coins. The two hide ‘the rest of the gold, except for one piece which they take to a local coin dealer to authenticate. The Leprechaun kills the coin dealer and takes the coin back. The Leprechaun spends the rest of the movie trying to collect all 100 gold coins, attacking and killing people along the way. He will not rest until he has ALL of his 100 gold coins, including the one that Ozzie swallowed.
Looking back it’s hard to say what made the film a success, a cult classic that has persevered as a franchise when so many others are now forgotten. Certainly Warwick Davis, otherwise known for playing Ewoks and for his role in Willow, played an important role. The film could be a “career role” for the actor in some ways. His corny puns, exaggerated Irish accent and slapstick physical comedy are a trademark of the series.
Otherwise, Leprechaun is probably most notable as Jennifer Aniston’s feature film debut. Previously she was best known for her TV roles. She played played Ferris Bueller’s sister on the short-lived Ferris Bueller series. Then, she played a prominent role on the sketch comedy series, The Edge. Playing a spoiled L.A. brat transplanted to the country (North Dakota), Aniston spends most of the film running around in a colorful pair of tight jean shorts. You may also recognize the actor who plays Ozzie, Mark Holton, as Pee-Wee’s sworn enemy in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
With only four deaths Leprechaun is hardly a gorefest. According to its star, the film was originally intended to be a scary kid’s movie but was re-written to incorporate more gory elements, which could account for the film’s low death count and light-hearted spirit. One of the deaths will leave you laughing out loud, when the Leprechaun “pogos” someone to death with a pogo stick while singing a catchy jingle: “This old Lep, he played one. He played pogo on his lung.”
Instead, Leprechaun has some success with its comedic moments. Particularly amusing are the scenes in which the Leprechaun is made to shine shoes, as that is apparently also part of the folklore. Some of the film’s funniest moments come at the expense of cereal brand Lucky Charms. Apparently, Lucky Charms had been contacted about featuring the product in one of the film’s scenes. But when they saw a working print of the movie they pulled out. Furious at their action Director Mark Jones then inserted a scene in which the Leprechaun eats a generic knock-off of Lucky Charms (titled ‘Lucky Clovers’) and then spits it out. In one of the film’s final scenes, Alex uses a slingshot to fire a four-leaf clover into the mouth of the Leprechaun, famously shouting “Fuck you, Lucky Charms!”
In other words, if you never see Leprechaun in your life you won’t be missing much. Neither gory or scary, and only marginally funny, it’s just sort of an odd movie that stuck around for some reason. Any of the Child’s Play films are more worthy of your time, including the much criticized Seed of Chucky.
The best value for the Leprechaun series, as of January 2019, is the Leprechaun: The Complete Movie Collection (Blu-Ray and Digital HD set. Although there are other purchase options, this set offers the best value and offers the first seven movies in the series at budget price. The final entry, Leprechaun Returns, can be purchased separately to complete the set.
For other horror-related articles, please see:
- Chucky: The Killer DVD Collection (review)
- EMP Museum succeeds with Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film
- Final Destination 5 meets expectations
- George Romero’s ‘Survival of the Dead’ – dead on arrival
- Hellraiser: Revelations deserves another look
- Hostel: Part III a missed opportunity
- ‘Mega Piranha’ – so bad it’s good?
- Review of ‘Memory’ from 2006, starring Billy Zane
- Review – Zombie Diaries 2, aka World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries
- Seattle’s ZomBcon raised the living dead
- Seattle’s 2012 MIFFF opens with Mon Ami
- Shocker by Wes Craven is shockingly bad
- Tobe Hooper ‘Mortuary’ – brain-dead zombies and black fungus
- Wes Craven ‘Cursed’ falls short of potential
- 2002 film ‘They’ explores night terrors
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