Forgotten Frights: Leprechaun

There’s a Leprechaun in me head,
and I wish that I were dead
For I don’t think he’ll e’er let me be.
Oh, he tempts me with his gold,
and if I were e’er so bold
I’d strangle him and leave him in the street.
—“The Leprechaun (You’re No Irish Laddie)”
Lyrics by Marc Gunn

leprechaunAh, the Leprechaun movies: that low-budget, R-rated horror series created by writer/director Mark Jones that starred Warwick Davis (Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Willow, the Harry Potter films) as an evil Irish sprite who, over the course of six(!) movies, spouted groan-worthy one-liners as he ruthlessly murdered anyone stupid enough to steal his pot o’ gold—sort of a low-rent Celtic Freddy Krueger. In case you missed any, here’s a quick primer to bring you up to speed in honor of today being Irish-Americans’ favorite holiday: St. Patrick’s Day!

Leprechaun (1993) is better known for being the big-screen acting debut of Jennifer Aniston, who went on to fame in the TV show Friends, but this story of a leprechaun who travels from Ireland to North Dakota to take back what’s his is clever enough to introduce a new type of supernatural baddie who wasn’t a straight-up knockoff of Krueger, or Jason from Friday the 13th. If you think about it, it’s sort of like that Mel Gibson movie, Payback, where he’s a crook just trying to collect the money he’s owed—only in this case, it’s a nasty sprite handing out gruesome punishments to the jerks who ripped him off. And Davis works really hard at selling the evil character he’s playing.

Besides, in spite of getting savaged by critics, the movie did well enough at the box office to get a sequel green-lighted, so that’s saying something, right?

Leprechaun 2 (1994) involves the little terror searching Los Angeles for a potential bride—he just has to find a woman who sneezes three times without anyone saying “God bless you” to her. Of course, that depends on him not killing her first for taking his gold…

Leprechaun 3 (1995), the first straight-to-video release, finds the Leprechaun popping up in Las Vegas, where he hunts new victims in the casinos and adds a new twist to his powers by using his bite to start turning one particular target into a leprechaun—a wereprechaun, maybe?

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) took the franchise to…well, it’s there in the title, right? Although, really, it should have been Innnn Spaaaaaaace! Sure, it’s a helluva stretch, but when you realize that both two other franchises, Friday the 13th (Jason X in 2001) and Hellraiser (Hellraiser IV: Bloodline in 1996), followed the same formula, with Hellraiser beating Leprechaun 4 to the finish line by a few months, I guess it’s not that much of a stretch.

Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) returned the action to Earth and co-starred rapper/actor Ice-T (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) in a tale of rappers, a magic flute, zombie fly girls, and—to quote the film’s entry at Wikipedia—“the Leprechaun rapping about being an evil Irish leprechaun.” That sounds…terrible.

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)—oh God, that title—provided an origin for the gold-obsessed baddie as he hunts down the latest group of unfortunates to steal his gold. This entry brought the Davis-led series to a close, and that was probably for the best—the series was getting progressively worse with every sequel.

There’s one other movie out there, 2014’s Leprechaun: Origins—a reboot of the franchise that was produced by WWE Studios, released by Lionsgate Films, and starred pro wrestler Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl. Critically panned, it apparently crashed and burned on release to theaters, sending the malicious sprite and the franchise to their final resting place. That’s…probably not such a bad thing.

Still, you know that someday some Hollywood producer is going to become aware of the dormant Leprechaun franchise and say, “Hey, why don’t we revive this thing?” Let’s just hope there’s a bit more thought given to the writing that results in a good movie for a change. I mean, even an evil leprechaun deserves a little Luck of the Irish, right?

Well, anyway…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!