With 2013 just around the corner it’s an ideal time to revisit 1993’s Leprechaun, the quirky horror-comedy starring Warwick Davis. According to IMDB, Leprechaun cost an estimated $900,000 and grossed $8,556,940. It also inspired four sequels, with a prequel in the works. Scheduled for a 2013 release, WWE Studios (yes, the wrestling federation) is slated to release Leprechaun: Origins just in time for the 20th anniversary of the original. Leprechaun: Origins will be the first of the series not to star Warwick Davis, instead starring WWE wrestler Hornswoggle.
The premise of Leprechaun is simple enough. In the opening scene we learn that Dan O’Grady had caught the Leprechaun, in Ireland presumably, and forced the Leprechaun to lead him to his pot of gold. The Leprechaun follows O’Grady back to his farmhouse in North Dakota and then attacks him to get his gold back. O’Grady barely escapes with his life, but he manages to trap the Leprechaun in a shipping crate. To guarantee that the Leprechaun doesn’t escape he places a four-leaf clover on top of the box, which according to some legends is the Leprechaun’s weakness.
Skip ahead, 10 years later the farmhouse has been sold to J.D. Reding. His daughter Tory Reding (Jennifer Aniston) is visiting from Los Angeles. She hates the country but is presumably there to help her father clean the farmhouse and make it ready to live in. The two have hired a local outfit, Three Guys Who Paint, to paint the house. The crew consists of hunky Nathan Murphy, Alex and Ozzie. Alex is a young boy of maybe 10 years. Ozzie is an adult who is shall we say, “touched”, not the brightest bulb.
To sum up, the Leprechaun is let out of its shipping container by Ozzie and immediately wants his gold back. Then, Ozzie and Alex follow a magical rainbow and find the Leprechaun’s gold hidden in a rusty old car. Ozzie accidentally swallows one of the 100 gold coins. The two hide the rest of the gold, except for one piece which they take to a local coin dealer to authenticate. The Leprechaun kills the coin dealer and takes the coin back. The Leprechaun spends the rest of the movie trying to collect all 100 gold coins, attacking and killing people along the way. He will not rest until he has ALL of his 100 gold coins, including the one that Ozzie swallowed.
Looking back it’s hard to say what made Leprechaun a success, a cult classic that has persevered as a franchise when so many others are now forgotten. Certainly Warwick Davis, otherwise known for playing Ewoks and for his role in Willow, played an important role. Leprechaun could be a “career role” for the actor in some ways. His corny puns, exaggerated Irish accent and slapstick physical comedy are a trademark of the series.
Otherwise, Leprechaun is probably most notable as Jennifer Aniston’s feature film debut. Previously she was best known for her TV roles. She played played Ferris Bueller’s sister on the short-lived Ferris Bueller series. Then, she played a prominent role on the sketch comedy series, The Edge. Playing a spoiled L.A. brat transplanted to the country (North Dakota), Aniston spends most of Leprechaun running around in a colorful pair of tight jean shorts. You may also recognize the actor who plays Ozzie, Mark Holton, as Pee-Wee’s sworn enemy in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
With only four deaths Leprechaun is hardly a gorefest. According to its star, Leprechaun was originally intended to be a scary kid’s movie but was re-written to incorporate more gory elements, which could account for the film’s low death count and light-hearted spirit. One of the deaths will leave you laughing out loud, when the Leprechaun “pogos” someone to death with a pogo stick while singing a catchy jingle: “This old Lep, he played one. He played pogo on his lung.”
Instead, the film has some success with its comedic moments. Particularly amusing are the scenes in which the Leprechaun is made to shine shoes, as that is apparently also part of the folklore. Some of Leprechaun’s funniest moments come at the expense of cereal brand Lucky Charms. Apparently, Lucky Charms had been contacted about featuring the product in one of the film’s scenes. But when they saw a working print of the movie they pulled out. Furious at their action Director Mark Jones then inserted a scene in which the Leprechaun eats a generic knock-off of Lucky Charms (titled ‘Lucky Clovers’) and then spits it out. In one of the film’s final scenes, Alex uses a slingshot to fire a four-leaf clover into the mouth of the Leprechaun, famously shouting “F*** you, Lucky Charms!”
In other words, if you never see Leprechaun in your life you won’t be missing much. Neither gory or scary, and only marginally funny, it’s just sort of an odd movie that stuck around for some reason. Any of the Child’s Play films are more worthy of your time, including the much criticized Seed of Chucky. For an in-depth review of Parts 2-5 of the Child’s Play films, please see here, here and here.
Leprechaun is available in a budget 4-pack edition (2 discs) featuring the first four films of the series, with two films on each disk. If you are curious about the series, or just nostalgic, I would recommend this option instead of purchasing the films individually. The budget 4-pack can be found at big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart for approximately $5 or it can be also ordered from Amazon.com.