Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday I hate more than all the others combined. It’s a pathetic excuse to get drunk, dress like an imbecile, and act like a fool. Guess what people? You’re all adults. You can get drunk whenever you feel like it. You don’t need a bullshit holiday to do so. Ever been to New York City on St. Patrick’s Day? It’s like navigating a mine field, except the mines are drunken idiots wearing green hats. That makes it no less dangerous though. Needless to say, I will be staying indoors on this vile day and watching movies. Most likely, I’ll be watching a flick from one of the cheesiest, most inexplicable horror franchises in history. That’s right, the Leprechaun series. The Irish in me feels I should acknowledge the dopey holiday in some way and I can think of no way dumber than watching Warwick Davis recite dirty limericks while making people’s asses explode. In case you’re of a similar mindset, I’ve taken the liberty of ranking all seven of the Leprechaun movies from worst to best.
I’ve pissed all over this movie so often that even I’m getting tired of ranting about it so I’ll keep this short: it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen and there is NO Leprechaun in it. I repeat, there is no LEPRECHAUN in a movie called LEPRECHAUN. That should tell you all you need to know.
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 movies, boring and incompetent. 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.
Leprechaun Back 2 That 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 and it is visibly not Davis. 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.
This is the standard case of a sequel not understanding what made the first film work. The hunt for gold is tossed aside in favor of the Leprechaun trying to find a bride, which is…just…fucking gross. Who the hell wants to watch that? Not many people apparently seeing as this was the last entry to make it into movie theaters. The rules make no sense at all here. The girl will become his wife when she sneezes three times? What? Who the fuck thought of that? And how does that work? Does that happen to any woman who sneezes three times in a row? Be a pretty messed up world if it did. Also, all the characters are either total idiots or completely unlikeable. You wanna smack the main guy constantly, his girlfriend is annoying, stupid, and shrill, and his boss is one of those obnoxious pricks that the movie believes to be way funnier than he is. There are, however, some scenes that work. The sequence where the Leprechaun gets wasted in a bar is pretty damn funny and the follow up in the coffee shop is appropriately gory and over the top. And thank god for Davis. He’s having the time of his life here, even when the script requires him to do things (like licking the female lead) that no one in their right mind would ever want to see.
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 shit 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-man-thing who turns into a robot-spider-man-thing. 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. I watched it shortly after sitting through Leprechaun: Origins and it is Citizen Kane compared to that travesty. 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 fucking 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 shit, 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 only watch one Leprechaun flick today (and truthfully, you probably shouldn’t watch any), make it this one.