I don’t know why, but I never saw a LEPRECHAUN picture before. You guys know I got a taste for straight to video trash, as well as little bastard killers. Nobody is as good as Chucky, but I had fun writing about THE GINGERDEAD MAN. Plus, the Leprechaun made it into space 4 years before Jason did, and I loved JASON X. (HELLRAISER won the space race, after false starts from HALLOWEEN, give credit where credit is due. But Leprechaun was there second.)
More importantly, it was St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m not Irish, and I can’t drink, so what the fuck else am I supposed to do on St. Patrick’s Day besides watch some Leprechaun pictures.
The first one is the one that stars Jennifer Aniston playing a Jennifer Aniston type. She’s an L.A. city girl who has to come with her dad to a barn out in the boondocks somewhere. Little does she know that the old Irish immigrant who used to own the place once went back to the motherland, trapped a leprechaun (Warwick Davis, RAY) and stole his gold. The leprechaun came home with him in his luggage and tried to kill him, but the old man used a four leaf clover (like a crucifix to a vampire) to trap him in a box. In Jennifer Aniston’s barn.
Mark Holton (Frances from the PeeWee Herman movie) plays a reta– I mean a lovable manchild who accidentally opens the box. And because he’s a lovable manchild, nobody believes him that he saw a leprechaun. Also they don’t believe him because he said he saw a leprechaun.
The lovable manchild and his actual child friend find the leprechaun’s gold, and the manchild accidentally swallows a piece of it, and then the leprechaun uses evil magic to try to get the gold back. etc.
Now, the idea of a movie about a killer leprechaun is pretty funny, but I didn’t enjoy this one all that much. There’s not enough absurdity to fuel it. It gets pretty boring. But I’m glad they treat it seriously and it seems like a real movie.
Because I didn’t really get into that one I decided to skip parts 2 and 3 and go straight for part 4, LEPRECHAUN IN SPACE. Unless maybe part 3 has a crazy EVIL DEAD 2 type ending there is no explanation of how the leprechaun got into space. He’s just in a space cave somewhere with a space princess who’s using him for his gold. He wants to marry her so he can become king of some galaxy or something, then have sex with her and kill her. He is not exactly the most enlightened leprechaun you’re gonna come across when it comes to gender issues, in my opinion. I mean maybe there’s stories I never heard about the Lucky Charms guy being a pig, who knows, but as far as I know this particular unnamed leprechaun is the Ike Turner of leprechauns. Minus the musical talent. (More on that later.)
Unfortunately for the leprechaun, his marital coup plan is interupted by some ALIENS-style space mercenaries brought in by a cyborg mad scientist working on an experiment to regrow his damaged body. I forget exactly why he was there but unfortunately I don’t think he knew about the leprechaun or that he was impervious to bullets. As long as they’re ripping off ALIENS it would be great if they said they were trying to get the leprechaun’s DNA for their bio-weapons division, but no dice.
What happens instead is the marines see the leprechaun and blow him up, but then one of them (the Bill Paxton type) pees on the corpse, and some (green?) electrical beams come up into him. Later, when he gets a boner the leprechaun busts out of his crotch. This might be an homage to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 where a dog pees fire onto Freddy’s corpse to resurrect him, but more likely it is just a half thought out idea that these guys thought might seem to make sense. They never explain what happened to the corpse that he peed on. Are there two leprechauns in space now?
There is all kinds of ridiculous shit that happens in this movie. A guy gets his DNA spliced with a spider. A tough guy cyborg marine has to wear a dress. The leprechaun turns himself giant, and gets blown out into space just like the Alien. The whole thing is so ridiculous that it seems like it would have to be enjoyable, but I really didn’t get into it. I think there’s two basic problems. One is that they make it really jokey, they are not really taking it seriously, and the acting is about porn level. The second is that the production values are so fucking shitty. There aren’t even TV shows that look as crappy is this, the sets are more like a school play. They don’t even bother to use green screens to put realistic stars in the space ship windows, they just have black felt with a bunch of identical white lights poking out of it.
If this had good production values, and it if it had a more serious tone, if it felt like a real ALIEN sequel, but had a leprechaun in it – that would be a classic right there. That is the movie I want to see. But not this shit.
Now, by the time of part 5, and especially since it’s called LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD, you would expect it to be even shittier. Or at least I was. But I was happy to find that IN THE HOOD is actually one giant leap for mankind compared to IN SPACE. The production values are way better – pretty good photography, shot on location instead of shitty sets, and even the acting is alot better (although iffy in spots).
The opening scene is in the ’70s, and Ice-T (with an afro) discovers the leprechaun’s gold, a magic flute and a statue of the leprechaun wearing a gold necklace. Of course, when his friend takes the necklace it brings the leprechaun to life. And it takes about 5 seconds to realize the leprechaun is a complete asshole, because he quotes Dr. King’s “Free at least, free at last, God almighty I’m free at last.” Man, talk about inappropriate. Ice-T should call him a racist but instead calls him “you midget Midas motherfucker.”
Luckily Ice manages to get the necklace back on him and escape with the goods. It’s weird because this mostly seems like a serious scene, but there’s a part where Ice pulls a baseball bat out of his afro.
Skip ahead to the ’90s and our protagonists, a “positive” rap trio trying to make a name for themselves. Ice-T (not playing himself, by the way) is now a very powerful rap mogul who could put them on the map. They manage to get a meeting with him, but it doesn’t go well.
This is the scene where I first realized I like this movie better than the other ones. I knew Ice-T was in this movie and I figured it was one of those half-assed roles alot of rappers do in DTV movies, he is just fuckin around trying to be funny. But that’s not what Ice-T is doing – he plays it just as seriously as he does that role on whichever LAW AND ORDER show he’s on. He plays it like it’s an actual menacing villain. In the middle of the meeting he makes them wait while he makes a phone call:
“Hey you, you listen to me. You don’t wanna fuck with me, okay? I hope you had sex last night, ’cause I’ma come over there and cut off your dick, then I’ma feed it to my pit, then I’ma burn the shit when it comes out of my god damn dog’s ass, you hear me? DON’T FUCK WITH ME, BITCH!”
Then he turns back to the kids and asks them more questions about their music. This could be dumb but all the actors treat it completely deadpan. Even when they’re doing broad jokes (they find out how to kill the leprechaun from a “Leprechauns For Dummies” book, they stick four leaf clovers in a joint to try to kill him, etc.) the actors seem like they don’t know it’s supposed to be funny, which is the complete opposite of most of these types of movies. They don’t even have wacky music on the score pointing out the jokes.
The rappers get in trouble with the leprechaun when they decide to rob Ice-T’s office. He has the leprechaun statue in a trophy case and they make the mistake of stealing his necklace, bringing him to life. They also steal his magic flute which they find out has hypnotic powers, and they use it to help their rap careers.
It keeps seeming like Ice-T’s gonna die, but he survives throughout the story so he is a threat to the rappers and a possible victim for the leprechaun. And that’s good because Ice-T is the heart and soul of LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD.
You know who could really learn from Ice-T is that fuckin leprechaun. Like in most of his movies, his dialogue is all rhymes. Horrible, stupid rhymes. The guy is just a complete jackass. I don’t know if you’ve seen this but Ice-T had a reality show called ICE-T’S RAP SCHOOL where he tried to teach white prep school kids to be rappers. The leprechaun could really benefit from going to this school. He thinks if he just makes a rhyme that says “Tiger Woods” in it that counts as wit. Leprechaun, you suck.
Different people have different reactions to seeing a monster leprechaun. One guy thinks he’s a kid and says, “I’m not gonna buy any Halloween costumes, so leave me alone.” I guess in the hood there are kids who go around trying to sell Halloween costumes. There’s a transvestite prostitute who has a different reaction, he’s horny so when the leprechaun shows up at his crib he tries to fuck it. That’s one thing that doesn’t usually happen to Freddy, let alone Chucky.
This one has even more crazy shit that goes down than IN SPACE. Not one but all of the heroes have to dress up like women this time. Maybe the weirdest scene though is where the rappers have to help out at the church in order to get sanctuary, but their song offends the congregation and everybody starts to leave. Out of desperation, one of the dudes blows the magic flute, and all the churchgoers get hypnotized into coming back in and sitting down. And then they notice two guys standing at the back of the church.
“Yo, that’s… Coolio?!”
Then they perform a horrible rap song. There are 2 or 3 shots to show that Coolio stands there and listens. Then you never see or hear from him again. Apparently, the magic flute is not only hypnotic, it also has the power to summon Coolio. That’s pretty cool but at least in this particular situation it didn’t really help, Coolio did not offer assistance or anything. Still, it’s good to know. If you ever need Coolio, blow the magic flute.
By the end of the movie, the leprechaun has an entourage of babes with glowing green eyes who he calls “me zombie flygirls.” And luckily he doesn’t rap until the end credits.
That would be my one complaint about this one other than the general annoyingness of the leprechaun: the music is terrible. And that’s a problem because it’s practically a musical. The rappers have this corny old school stytle and they’re just not very good at it. And the leprechaun doing a song called “Lep in the Hood”? Jesus. Even Ice-T’s song on the soundtrack is pretty terrible, he actually keeps saying “Straight shootin, darn tootin.” I don’t know how the fuck they got Ice-T using the phrase “darn tootin” but I’m sure it involved the magic flute. Otherwise though, an admirable leprechaun picture.
I figured part 6, BACK 2 THA HOOD, couldn’t be as good, but actually it is at least on par with IN THE HOOD. It even starts out Disney style with a big fancy book that opens up to LEPRECHAUN: CHAPTER 6, and the pages come to life with animated drawings as a female narrator gives us the (never before explained, at least in parts 1, 4 or 5) mythology of the leprechaun. It’s like the beginning of LORD OF THE RINGS 1. Turns out some ancient king summoned the leprechauns to protect his gold and punish the evil people who tried to steal it. But when the king died they all went back to nature except for one asshole who stayed behind and turned evil from being in the human world. So he’s one of those stubborn individuals like the old man who refused to leave Mt. St. Helens before it erupted, or one of those guys that was still fighting the civil war years later.
I only mention that backstory because it brings up some complex questions. There doesn’t seem to be any continuity in these movies. The place the leprechaun is at in the beginning of a movie is never connected to where he was at the end of the last one. At the end of 5 he seemed to have died but then all the sudden he was alive and wearing sunglasses and was the manager to a famous rapper. In part 6 he doesn’t have that, he doesn’t even have his zombie flygirls, and he’s after some priest who stole his gold to fund a community center for the children.
So I had decided these were actually different leprechauns, they weren’t the same dude. But now we find out there is only one leprechaun in the human world. So it is the same dude. I don’t get it.
This one has a comic relief type character, but otherwise it’s even more deadpan than IN THE HOOD. The lead is Tangi Miller (Felicity) whose performance is just as serious as she would give if she was in, say, MUNICH. They also got Kirk Sticky Jones (TV’s Blade) in the cast but he’s just the villain’s #2 in charge so he doesn’t get much to do except get hit by a bat and get his throat slashed by the leprechaun near the end.
There’s alot of good scenes in this one. The leprechaun tries to explain to the cops that it’s his gold they found on some guys, but they don’t believe him. So he starts fighting them, and one of the officers starts doing kickboxing moves on him. But he tears off the cop’s leg and uses it to reach the gas pedal when he steals a cop car.
For some reason the leprechaun doesn’t use magic powers like shooting fireballs anymore, so a guy is actually able to punch the shit out of him. But he can take it, because of magic. He can even take being burned to the bones in a furnace. Our heroes unfortunately don’t have the Leprechaun For Dummies book, but a psychic tells them about four leaf clovers. I have noticed that for some reason these movies never acknowledge that four leaf clovers are hard to find. In this case it was already established that (for reasons I do not understand) one character’s weed supply had been contaminated with clovers. And luckily they are four leaf clovers.
Anyway, point is, they put four leaf clovers into the tips of hollow point bullets. So this is a pretty good movie.
Based on the ones I saw I would definitely have to say that the two HOOD movies are the best of the series. Those are the ones I can endorse. I gotta say though, I am not a fan of the leprechaun in general. His rhyming is obnoxious, his sense of humor is worse than Freddy’s, and his accent and forced archaic language just makes him seem like a prick. Sometimes Warwick Davis’s acting is pretty good (for example, his reaction when a guy who interrupts his threats to answer his cell phone) but this character is no Chucky.
Part of the problem might be his motive. Usually when a slasher has some thing they’re getting revenge for there is at least a grain of truth to their moral outrage so that the victims feel guilty. Freddy was burned alive by his victims’ parents, the chainsaw family’s property was disrespected, Vincent Price got fucked over by various people, etc. But the leprechaun’s complaint is so fuckin petty. I know, “don’t steal shit” (paraphrase) is one of the ten commandments, but come on. This leprechaun leaves gold laying around, most of the time the people don’t even know they’re stealing it. If Bush is a bastard for executing retarded people (and he is), then the leprechaun is the same for going after a mentally disabled lovable manchild just because he found some gold in a pickup truck. There is just no validity to this leprechaun’s killing spree.
Still, I hope they keep making these movies. I would like to see the production values and almost-seriousness of the HOOD duology, but obviously it’s time to move on to some new settings and premises. Here are a few suggestions I got.
LEPRECHAUN SQUAD: Fed up with the bad reputation this leprechaun is bringing to the larger leprechaun community, an elite squad of good leprechauns come to the human world to hunt the fucker down. These would be some real badasses as far as leprechauns go. All kinds of scars, eyepatches, tattoos, and they have high tech equipment. They rapell in with their infra-green goggles on and go to work.
LEPRECHOPALYPSE: Some time after LEPRECHAUN IN SPACE, the leprechaun returns to earth to find that civilization has been destroyed in a nuclear war. Now he wanders the wasteland on an awesome green motorcycle trying to find mutants to steal his gold.
LEPRECHAUN IN IRAQ: This one is kind of like LEPRECHAUN meets THREE KINGS. It turns out that Saddam stole the leprechaun’s gold, and it was actually the leprechaun that hung him. (they could incorporate him into the actual camera phone footage of the hanging.) But the gold switches hands from Iraqi looters to American soldiers, making them all targets of the leprechaun. This would be more of an action movie because the soldiers would have even better ammunition than the drug dealers in BACK 2 THA HOOD. There could also be some wacky FORREST GUMP style humor where the leprechaun is involved in notorious incidents like the Abu Ghraib scandal, etc.
LEPRECHAUN IN DOUBT: This is more of a character drama about what the leprechaun does when nobody steals his gold. At the beginning he puts his gold in the bank. Then he gets so bored he starts to wonder if maybe he really wants people to steal his gold. His life has no meaning otherwise, he is defined by the theft of his material goods. We know from the other movies that he knows how to drive a car (“Well he was doing very well last night!”), answer a phone, smoke a joint, etc., so he must have non-gold related interactions with humans on occasion. But judging by his horrible personality and annoying habits those interactions must not go well. This is a sad story about loneliness and alienation, but also about self discovery and, ultimately, redemption. Definitely the most emotional of the LEPRECHAUN franchise.
LEPRECHAUN UNDER SIEGE: After the box office failure of LEPRECHAUN IN DOUBT, the Leprechaun will go back to what he does best: killing people who steal his gold. But this time it happens in an action movie context. At the beginning of the movie the Leprechaun goes to withdraw his gold from the bank, but he happens to get there just as a team of highly armed and skilled mercenaries are taking hostages as part of a plan to rob the vault. Now, using magic and sneaking around in small vents that nobody else can fit in, only the Leprechaun can rescue the hostages, or at least kill the guys who stole his gold. I guess probaly not rescue the hostages, but who knows.
LEPRECHAUN IN CONGRESS: After becoming a media hero for his heroic rescue of the hostages, the Leprechaun makes a successful bid for Congress and becomes chairman of the ways and means committee, where he learns to not only protect his own treasure, but that of the American people.
LEPRECHAUN IN THE SPACE HOOD: After the box office failure of LEPRECHAUN IN CONGRESS, the Leprechaun returns to more familiar territory.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.