The wait is over. Finally, after all these years of turmoil, we can sit down and enjoy the eighth film in the beloved and treasured Leprechaun franchise. Leprechaun Returns arrives today on digital platforms just in time for Christmas! Which is the perfect holiday for a Leprechaun movie to be released. It’s not as if there’s any other holidays we closely associate with those greedy little creatures. Let me just glance over a quick list of holidays to make sure…OH. OH NO. Um…can someone call the marketing team behind this movie and let them know they may have made a miscalculation with the release date?
What’s that you say? There is no marketing team?? That’s crazy talk. This is one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year! Yes, yes I know, there’s another movie with ‘Returns’ in the title coming out in few weeks that people are also excited for. Something about a flying nanny? Don’t know much about that and sounds kind of silly to be honest. Good thing there’s no silliness in the Leprechaun series. I mean, if you can’t treat an Irish monster with indiscriminate powers who is obsessed with gold with the respect he deserves, that just shows that film standards have truly fallen.
On the off chance that you have missed the utter brilliance, polished decorum, and high production values that represent the Leprechaun films, I’ve taken the liberty of ranking them from worst to best. Obviously, films of such high quality are difficult to rank but I think I’ve handled the task well. If you disagree with my choices, I have a question for you: “why have you seen all these movies? I’m a total moron who had WAY too much time on his hands as a kid. What the hell is your excuse?”
Anyway, on with the rankings! (And please remember: I am an idiot)
This one is dead last for a very simple reason. There is no Leprechaun in Leprechaun: Origins. Oh sure, they say it’s a Leprechaun. They even have it chase after gold coins. But I’m sorry, you can’t make a deformed gray gargoyle whose only ever seen in close-ups your villain and then insist it’s a Leprechaun. Nope. If you made a movie called The Easter Bunny and cast a giant sewer rat in the title role, everyone would be calling bullshit on you. And if you tried to defend your actions (“No, it really is a bunny!”), you’d come off as a crazy person. Everyone who worked on this movie needed to be fired before production got underway.
Leprechaun In The Hood
In reality, it’s a toss up between this and Back 2 tha Hood as to which is worse. They’re both terrible and inexplicable. I believe In the Hood is slightly worse though cuz of how baffling it is. The Leprechaun movies all hinge on a simple premise: someone steals the little bastard’s gold and he goes on a killing spree to get it back. That’s it. Simple. It’s when the movies try to add in other plot points that we run into real trouble. In the Hood adds a magic flute (wtf) that brings wealth and fortune to whoever holds it, but it also has the ability to possess people…or something? I don’t even know. What I do know is that the three main characters are utterly reprehensible, the rap songs are terrible, and Ice-T seems at a complete loss to account for his presence (which, to be fair, can be said about most movies he appears in). Still, it does contain the line, “A friend with gold is a friend to hold, but a friend with weed is a friend indeed.” That’s gotta count for something.
Also, there is, in fact, a Leprechaun in this movie, so that makes it about a thousand times better than the previous film on this list.
Leprechaun Back 2 tha Hood
Sometimes, I feel really bad for Warwick Davis. He’s a talented actor (Willow rules) and I like the way he embraced this dopey series but man these flicks really must have tried his patience after awhile. He’s barely even in this movie. There are several shots of the Leprechaun from behind that are visibly body doubles. I imagine his contract must have stipulated that he only be on set for a few days. Can’t say I blame him for demanding that. I remember finding an interview with him on YouTube a few years after Back 2 tha Hood came out. In it, someone asks him if he’d return for another sequel. “I’d like to,” he responds, before adding with a tired laugh, “but you know, they’d probably just wanna send me back to the hood again.” According to Wikipedia, the writer/director wanted to set this on a tropical island but the studio said, “Nope. Go to the hood again, people liked that one.” No. No. We didn’t. We just rented it as a curiosity and most of us turned it off after a half hour. I’ve never been able to get though this or In the Hood more than once. I’m ranking it slightly higher than the first hood entry for two reasons: (1.) it sticks to the simple premise of the little monster wanting his gold back and (2.) the animated opening that explains the Leprechaun’s backstory is pretty cool. The flick is an utter waste of time otherwise.
So…here’s the thing about Leprechaun 2: it actually makes a lot of smarter choices than the first film. The Leprechaun has more interesting powers in this one, the film leans into the comedic angle a little more, the production design is noticeably higher, and the rules are a little more clearly spelled out. That’s the good stuff. The bad stuff? OHHHHH BOY. First of all, even though the rules are more clearly spelled out, they just don’t make any sense at all. For example, the Leprechaun’s bride (don’t ask) will become his after she…sneezes three times. How does that work? Does that only apply to his intended? Or is any woman who sneezes three times in a row doomed to marry a Leprechaun? This bring us the film’s other huge problem: the plot. The whole story hinges on a dopey asshole stopping the Leprechaun from marrying his girlfriend and…shudder…sleeping with her. So yeah, this entire movie is about a quest to stop Leprechaun rape. And that’s just…no fun AT ALL. Why the hell did they feel the need to add that in? Why can’t he just be mad about his stolen gold? THAT’S ALL YOU NEED. You don’t need sneeze curses and forced marriages and kidnapping and attempted rape. What do you think this is a Lars Von Trier film?
Leprechaun 4: In Space
Understand that my saying Leprechaun 4: In Space is ‘better’ than the previous entries is only meant to convey that it’s more entertaining than the ones listed above. It’s not good by any means. Not at all. It once again has the Leprechaun going after a bride (seriously guys, what is with that? Have I mentioned how FUCKING GROSS that is?), you can see the goddamn stars taped to a black back drop, and nothing that happens makes any sense. That being said, In Space is out of it’s head in the best way possible. The whole movie has a nice ‘fuck you’ vibe going for it. Reportedly, the way the studio came up with this idea was through some executive photoshopping the Leprechaun onto an Alien poster as a joke. Some coked-out producer saw the poster and said, “Whatever, let’s make it into a movie”. The result is a flick that wants to see how much crazy nonsense it can get away with. The Leprechaun arrives on the space ship by shooting out of someone’s dick (I swear) and things just get crazier from there. As you can see in the picture, he actually turns into a GODDAMN GIANT at one point, which, if you think about it, kinda defeats the purpose of making a movie about a killer Leprechaun. Whatever though, this movie doesn’t give a shit. I haven’t even mentioned the vaguely transexual-robot-doctor-character who turns into a robot-spider-monster-thing because of reasons. In Space is also so low budget it’s hilarious. The characters blow up the Leprechaun midway through the flick on a bridge in the ship, but he, of course, comes back to life seconds later. Then at the end, they shoot him out into space, blow him up again, and the director uses the exact same explosion shot from when they blew him up earlier, when he was indoors. Amazing. In Space is not great trash, it’s not even good trash, it’s just really funny trash. There are much worse things for a movie to be.
The one that started it all, for better or worse. Surprisingly, it holds up rather well. It treats this material as seriously as it possibly can while finding the time to throw in a lot of stupid jokes that make you laugh nonetheless. The rules make sense, the cast is appealing (I honestly don’t think Jennifer Aniston has ever been better, there I said it), and there is actually some genuine suspense. I also like the way it uses traditional lore about Leprechauns to help the characters defeat the little bastard. They were always shoemakers in fairy tales so it’s a hilarious and bizarre touch to have the green bastard literally be unable to walk past a pair of shoes without polishing them. In most horror movies, the characters just out run the monster or shoot bullets into it to slow it down. Here, they throw dirty shoes at the monster and he howls in pain as he polishes each and every last one. Come on, that’s funny.
Part 3 is the finest entry because it totally gets that this whole series is stupid. It doesn’t try to be anything else other than a dopey romp. It’s silly without constantly winking at you, cartoonishly gory without grossing you out, and the Vegas setting is just perfect. Like In Space, it’s zany and absurd but in a way that actually makes sense. It’s helped by two particularly appealing lead actors and a hilarious supporting cast. Apparently, no one told the leads they were in a cheap B-movie. They treat this material with the utmost sincerity and we actually find ourselves rooting for them. For god’s sake, the lead actor spends most of the movie turning into a Leprechaun and he somehow manages to make his plight both affecting and funny. The scene where he goes to the hotel bar, orders a shit ton of potatoes (cuz that’s what Leprechauns eat right?), and then has the horrifying realization of, “oh no, I’m turning into a monster” is absolutely hilarious. Then there’s the supporting cast. They’re pitch perfect; all despicable humans you can’t wait to see get their comeuppance. And they do in appropriately gory yet goofy ways. There’s the woman who the Leprechaun blows up, the cheap magician he saws in half, and the sleazy hotel owner who gets electrocuted by a robot-woman-TV-thing. What more do you want in a Leprechaun movie? If you see only one Leprechaun movie in your life (and truthfully, you probably shouldn’t see any), make it this one.
So, where will Leprechaun Returns wind up on this list? We’ll all just have to see when we tune in later tonight! We are all watching it right? I’m not alone in this? Right?