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Review: Leprechaun (1993) – Why Am I Watching Every Movie in the Leprechaun Franchise?

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Why am I here? Why am I watching every movie in the leprechaun franchise? Is this masochism? I’m just  diving blindly into an 8-film franchise that, by all accounts, isn’t very good. I’ve never seen any of them, and they’re sort of the butt of a lot of jokes. The whole series is ridiculous, right? Or should I reserve my judgement, lest I, too, be judged?!

This is maybe a uniquely “horror fan”-kind of experience. There aren’t too many other fandoms where we’ll just barrell straight into a heap of dung, hoping to recover some hidden diamond. Am I already being too harsh on the Leprechaun franchise? Is it really that bad? Or will I find that there’s a lot to love about this under-respected series of movies?

Let’s talk first about Leprechaun’s place within the horror canon. It’s a big, easily-recognized series with a small, easily-recognized killer. As somebody that isn’t really familiar with the movies yet, I’d say Warwick Davis’ Leprechaun character is the real draw, right? Like… Nobody’s showing up for the setting and the story. This is Warwick Davis’ show. And his Leprechaun character (will he have a name? I’ll find out!) is definitely a quickly-identified horror icon.

Leprechaun 1993 Movie Image

There’s kind of a weird hierarchy in horror as far as the genre’s icons go. There’s kind of an inarguable top, wherein the most recognizable, most pervasive characters sit. This top, I feel like, is your Freddies, your Jasons, your Michael Myereseses. We can even include the Universal stable of monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy, etc.) These are your name-brand characters that even your grandma could identify.

Then, after that tier, there’s this class of horror icons that, while embraced within the horror community and recognized by the average Joe, just aren’t in the same class as Freddy, Jason, and Michael. This tier consists of, among others, Chucky, Hannibal Lecter, Pinhead, and Leatherface. They’re still huge names with t-shirts and Halloween costumes and merch. But, a new movie in those franchises just wouldn’t create the same fervor as a new Nightmare on Elm Street. You definitely know these characters, but your grandma might not!

Ok, so then, after that, we have this third tier, and that’s where this Leprechaun guy is. They’re definitely icons in this bracket of horror character, but they’re inarguably peripheral compared to some of the bigger names. I’d include Pumpkinhead here. The toys from Puppet Master, the titular Killer Klowns from Outerspace, maybe the Tall Man from Phantasm. They may inspire passion by the die-hard horror fans, but your typical guy on the street might blank on their name, or the movie/series they’re from.

Leprechaun 1993 Movie Still

So anyhow, that’s how I came to this franchise: aware of it, yes, but with very little understanding of the lore and the mythos and the story. To me, the Leprechaun movies are kind of an also-ran version of the Chucky movies. You’ve got a smaller killer, and maybe the thrill is that he can hide well? I don’t know. I never really understood the appeal, myself, so let’s jump in and see what happens!

The first thing I noticed about this movie is the sneakers. It is a VERY 1993 movie, especially in terms of footwear. We have La Gear. We got Reebok Pumps. There’s even a pair of Converses. It’s great. The whole movie is accidentally a vintage Sneakerhead’s dream.

The other, very 1993 thing is a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston. This was just before she became globe-conquering-ly famous, and it’s fun to see her before everyone saw her. You can tell she’s a star too. She feels like the linchpin of this whole movie, and a lot really rides on her to be entertaining enough to carry scenes where people aren’t being killed.

Jennifer Aniston Leprechaun

This movie also features one of the all-time great “That Guy!” actors in Mark Holton. You’ll recognize Holton as the bully, Francis, in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. He’s also on the basketball team in Teen Wolf. He’s got one of those faces that you can’t mistake, he’s just so unique looking. And Holton mostly plays second fiddle to a kid, the pair a comic relief duo that relieves a lot of tension. That kid is, seemingly, played by a young Julian Casablancas (it’s actually some actor named Robert Hy Gorman).

Ok, so, cast and setting aside, the story here is pretty bare-bones. In a little prelude segment, this guy comes home from Ireland, and tells his wife of an adventure wherein he was able to steal real gold from a real leprechaun. She’s understandably disbelieving, but nonetheless humors her husband as he packs all their belongings and whatnot. However, that evening, the leprechaun RETURNS FOR REVENGE! He kills the old lady and does his best to kill the old man. But, the old man is too wiley in his superstitious ways. He knows that he can trap the leprechaun in a box with a four-leaf clover on top. And he does, right before he has a heart attack and is unable to light the whole house on fire.

Leprechaun stays put for ten years, house gets bought, clover gets moved, spell gets broken, hell breaks loose. It’s a solid, tight little movie with some genuinely fun kills. A guy gets pogo-stick’d to death, which is awesome. There’s also a little bit of mythology thrown in for good measure. This Leprechaun dude (credited as Lubdan) HAS to shine any shoes you throw at him. So remember that in case you have to escape a leprechaun some day. Will they build on this bit of lore? I’ve heard it’s kind of an anthology with a different leprechaun each time. So, we’ll see!

Tweet your best Leprechaun takes to @billreick!

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